U Street Cafe Abruptly Closed on Thursday

by Prince Of Petworth January 11, 2016 at 9:45 am 13 Comments

1301 U Street, NW

U Street Cafe (from the same owners as Tynan’s Coffee in Columbia Heights) opened up in the former Mocha Hut space back in 2009. Thanks to a couple of readers for sending word about their abrupt closure on U Street Thursday:

“This is awful and sudden news. Any idea why?”

If I had to guess, I’d say The Wydown probably killed them.


  • Jj

    This place was terrible. Hopefully to be replaced by something better.

    • Kevin

      Yeah, well, everyone’s entitled to an opinion, as they say. Even wrong ones.

      Mine is that U Street Cafe was terrific — comfortable and a good value in a neighborhood that is increasingly expensive to find a simple sandwich, omelette, etc.

      I will miss them.

  • Jeff

    This really bums me out and I’m going to miss this place. The staff was great and it was the perfect chill spot to hang with work or a book. They also served real breakfast all day which is hard to find in the new trend of lame gimmicky concepts.

  • Ellington Resident

    Having lived in the building above it for a few years now, I’m surprised how much trouble the businesses have on our block. Rents must be too much to handle. I am guilty of walking to Wydown for coffee or Smucker Farms for Bullfrog Bagels instead…

    I hadn’t been to U St. Cafe as much recently, but sad to see a relatively inexpensive, normal breakfast place go away. Breakfast >>>> Brunch

    • JohnH

      I think a heavily breakfast place is tough to maintain unless you are just slammed for breakfast/lunch (tough to do on weekdays). Even Wydown has applied for a liquor license, right? – i.e. trying to get revenue later in the day.
      I also think this area is slightly overhyped. I don’t want to use arbitrary examples, but the sidewalk traffic is not super heavy when I’ve gone by on a weekend day (outside of the metro exit). I think with additional residential being built, it will improve. But really once you go 50 feet north or south of U Street from 9th to 13th, it’s mostly been very low-density row houses.

    • Rich

      Having a single building taking up a block and having relatively low profile ground floor retail doesn’t help, esp. given the lack of diversity among places that have rented there—no real destination places, no actual retail.

  • I Dont Get It

    Oh no, I loved their omelets and they didn’t cost a fortune! Whenever I was there it seemed fairly busy.

  • otberbur

    When this establishment first opened, the cooked breakfasts (particularly the waffles) were quite good; the breakfast at one point got touted by Todd Kliman of Washingtonian. Over time, however, and particularly after the Tynan people took over, food quality and service suffered; I hadn’t been there in over three years.

    I don’t think the closing can be attributed to the Wydown. The Wydown offers great pastries and coffee, but no cooked food, and even in its heyday, the coffee and espresso drinks at U Street Cafe were never good, comparing unfavorably with the Starbucks at 13 & U. Over time, however, several more attractive breakfast options opened in the neighborhood, such as Ted’s Bulletin and the now-shuttered Blind Dog Cafe. The U Street Cafe format could work successfully with better execution.

  • Anonymous

    The food tasted like Sysco stuff that I got at the summer camp commissary back in middle school. I went there twice back in 2013 and had two terrible meals – bad food and miserably slow service. Never went back again.

  • TraderJames

    After Tynan bought the Cafe Deluxe restaurant chain management decided to fire all the managers and/or supervisors at the coffee shops and at the U Street Cafe. Everybody loved Reina (U Street manager) and after she was let go they lost a majority of their long term customers.

  • dave

    The building was sold, they are just starting to notify the tenants, etc.

  • Beplot

    While I never loved their food, I did go there a few times a month. U St Cafe served a distinct purpose in the neighborhood….quick, cheap, decent food with a friendly neighborhood vibe and great staff (at least in the past). While I think some traffic (on coffee at least) was lost with Wydown, I doubt many people were choosing U St Cafe over Starbucks (which has been there forever) for their lattes and espresso, so I don’t think that was their downfall. I blame high rents and lack of foot traffic, that whole block (except Alero) struggles.

    I hope a “so’s your mom” type deli/breakfast heaven opens in its place. A great place to pop in for a sandwich with a mini market for essentially. U Street needs a solid hole in the wall deli/breakfast pick up joint, not another hipster $30 brunch place.

    • Tigre11101011

      everyone wants their ‘own’ close by/on the corner ‘hole in the wall’ deli, mini market, or bakery. because, obviously, you want what you want now. there is a reason this doesn’t happen.


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