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SOVA Closing/Changing Ownership this Sunday on H Street, NE

by Prince Of Petworth February 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm 12 Comments

1359 H Street, NE

Dear PoPville,

This is a bummer. SOVA is a nice place – totally chill with nice staff and good food and drinks. My band, Hollertown, played there every third Thursday and it was always fun. You never knew what you were going to get: wild drunken dancers, sedate and attentive quiet listeners or rowdy, loud conversationalists. Almost four years ago, I met the woman who became my wife there.

The owner writes us:

To all, It comes with deep regret that I must inform you that SOVA will be closing at the end of business, this Sunday, the 17th. This was not an easy decision, but it was a decision that had to be made, unfortunately. It was also a decision that had other people to consider, and who’s decisions mattered. I’m very very sorry. We were severely scared financially during the early years when business on the whole street was difficult to come by, and especially during the 3 plus years of street construction. We had some good nights, great nights even, but we also had nights where it didn’t make sense to even open the bar. To many of them. We grew with the street, and things got better. Just not better quick enough.

Continues after the jump.

There will be a new ownership group taking over the space. They plan on keeping the coffee side as close to what it is right now, but I otherwise don’t know what they’ll end up doing with the bar. The new group is already in the restaurant business, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was more of a staple for them, when it comes to food. I just don’t know. To be honest, it’s such a fluid situation, it all just materialized in the last several days. Most of the current staff will be retained, so it’s not as bad for them.

I wish there was more that I could say except to thank you all for all you did to contribute to SOVA in one way or another. All of you helped weave the fabric that made SOVA what it was. I very much thought we had some great shows and great entertainment, and clearly there were nights where the public thought so as well.

This week will be the last of everything, at SOVA that is. I’ll do my best to convince the new ownership to keep a portion of the business for live entertainment, but I can’t make any promises, of course.

Thank you all so much. This is very difficult to do, but I wish all of you the best.

Frank Hankins

  • SOVA Fan

    Oh that is too bad. At least it’s staying a coffee shop. I hope the new owners continue to get their bagels from Bethesda Bagels (closest thing to NY bagels you’ll find in this area).

  • Anonymous

    Bummer. I really enjoyed the wine bar – interesting crowd and they usually had eclectic music playing (like Poe’s “Angry Johnny” last time I was there – unexpected blast from the past). Boo hiss.

  • Anonymous

    I’m quite surprised– as far as coffee shops go this one seemed to be doing well. Especially on bluegrass nights when the bar was packed.

    I think it would be a good idea to have the whole place open during all operating hours as a coffee shop that also serves food and alcohol (kinda like Tryst). Have the upstairs be more like a bar on Thurs-Sun nights, but keep the downstairs open for people who want to chill with a book or whatever. There aren’t many places in DC that have a coffeeshop atmosphere past 9pm.

    • RP

      Because nobody can make any money in this town being a coffee shop after dark (and this is just more unfortunate proof of that).

      • Anonymous

        But wouldn’t just be a coffee shop, that’s my point. It would serve food and alcohol as well, and the upstairs would be just like any other lounge-type bar. I like bars that have a quieter, more chill section downstairs, where you can grab a bite to eat or have a conversation before returning to the raging. I also think closing the downstairs at night made it look like the place wasn’t open at all.

    • MG

      I think that with the change in atmosphere in the area, you’d be surprised by how many people in the H St area would support a coffee shop open past 9pm. I’ve lived in cities three to four times smaller than DC that have late night coffee spots and they are a hit for students, date nighters, readers, friends, you name it!

      In any case, this is still very disheartening news. SOVA is my go-to when people visit and I want to show them how much I love the neighborhood. And Bluegrass has been my staple Thursday night since I moved here.

      My advice to the new owners – keep the parts we love about the SOVA we know alive, but do what you must to increase patronage and increase revenues. Small business is difficult, so you’ve got my promise! I’ll continue to support you – so long as you keep bluegrass!

      • Anonymous

        Me too– I came from a much smaller city where the coffee shops were hoppin’ even at 4am. It seems a big city like DC could at least support at least a couple.

      • +1 on taking everyone who came to visit to SOVA to kick off our night and show them my neighborhood – good luck in whatever you do Frank!

      • The problem isn’t that there isn’t enough demand for coffee… it’s that coffee doesn’t produce enough income to support the costs of owning a business in DC. The land is worth too much. You just can’t expect to turn enough money selling coffee to support a million dollar property.

        (related: I’d love to see a coffee bar pop up. There aren’t enough places to get whiskey in my coffee!)

  • That Man A

    That sucks, this place is chill & i like the lay out

  • Jeff

    So sad! Frank had us play a bunch of shows there that absolutely ROCKED! Those shows reminded me of the great house parties I played in college…some of the best musical experiences ever. Great folks, totally mixed crowd(EVERY walk of life), along with really good coffee!
    My wife, newborn son and I were in there this morning saying how much we love going there and will continue to go. We had no idea about the change over. I hope they keep up Frank’s spirit. We’ll miss you!!

  • Will

    Whatever the new owner’s do they’d be fools to lose the Intelligentsia coffee, an smart to switch to pour-over.


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