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“Argonaut was closed and padlocked with a no trespassing sign Sunday night”

by Prince Of Petworth July 26, 2016 at 8:55 am 71 Comments

1433 H Street, NE

This could be a terrible dagger for H Street if permanent:

“Dear PoPville,

Thought you’d be interested in news from H Street that the Argonaut was closed and padlocked with a no trespassing sign last night (Sunday). No official word, but the manager Shaaren’s latest tweet suggests it could be bad.”

  • Kingman Park

    I was just there on Friday and it looked busy. Wonder what happened?

  • aknomad

    Noooooo! Say it ain’t so!

    …I guess I have to accept this new reality of what happens when you let Georgetown kids move in!

    Just kidding; but not really at all…. Another good neighborhood gone.

    • P. Lecheval

      It’s true. The original, pre-fire version of the Argonaut, circa-2005, was immeasurably cooler than what it became.

  • Anon

    Landlord figured out a way to somehow break the lease and raise their profits? Certainly couldn’t have been the case that they were struggling for business

    • K

      Years ago I was told Joe Englert owned the building. And he is one of the owners of the Argo, and like half of H St. Which doesn’t mean he didn’t jack the rent.

      • Anon

        Even with an ownership stake in Argonaut, Englert could likely see far bigger profits selling the building to someone else or finding a big-moneyed sucker to take over the lease. It’s much easier to collect rent than it is to run a successful restaurant.

        • K

          I’ve been going to The Argo since they opened back in 2005. The restaurant keeps evolving with the street and every iteration has been great (Dive to neighborhood tavern to family restaurant). The Argo has always been special to me. Here is to hoping the speculation is wrong and they will be open soon.

          • K

            dang it meant to make this a stand alone comment and not a reply.

      • hillheaven

        Agree with Anon. Englert has a lot more to profit for himself as Landlord than sharing with the sweat equity partners who bust their butts every day to make the restaurant work. My guess is he’ll re-rent at astronomical market price to some new outfit and make a real killing that way now that he’s killed Argo and escaped its circa 2005 lease rates.

  • DCbyDay

    We were there on Thursday and they had no draught beers…

  • I was just there on Saturday for an early dinner. The A/C wasn’t working and it was very hot. They didn’t have draught beer available but I attributed that to whatever event they were having in the upstairs room. Very sad if they’re closing

    • Doc

      Why is everyone misspelling “draft?”

      • “Draught” is the proper way to spell draft – at least if you are speaking in British beer parlance, which has a slightly longer history than our stateside hoppy history.

  • kat

    The property was on the tax sale list this year.

    • H Street

      An entity called 1433 H St LLC has been on the tax-sale list pretty much every year in recent memory.

      • H Street

        And according to a Google search, 1433 H St LLC is operated by Joe Englert, who co-owns the Argonaut. So this probably isn’t a case of the landlord raising the rent, because the restaurant owner owns the building.

        • hillheaven

          Ah, but you assume that the landlord has the same interests as a “co-owner” of a restaurant that’s probably paying below-market rents, even if they are the same person. There’s a lot more easy money being a landlord than working your butt off as a restaurant operator. Especially if you’re not the one actually working there.. My guess is that the “landlord” alter ego just did a number on the restaurant tenant and its co-owners.

  • Anon

    Oh no! I love the Argonaut :(

  • northeazy

    They just dropped $80k on that retractable greenhouse roof thingy.

    The food was boring anyway. Maybe a celebrity chef can take over the space and make smaller portions for more money with gimmicky $14 cocktails. All the new residents of the Whole Foods building down the street will need a place to go.

    • neighbor

      Yes! I would love a place with chef-driven local seasonal small plates.

      • S

        go to Georgetown

        • Anon

          Huh? I take that was sarcasm, as there’s already a surfeit of such spots on H.

        • Glover Park

          More like, go to Shaw

        • andy2

          14th street is way more likely, Georgetown is full of tourists and chains.

  • KP

    The AC and refrigerant system for their tap beers have both been out for a bit now. Wonder if they’re just getting those fixed up.

  • MPB

    We live down the street and have been a few times — nothing special, AT ALL, IMO. Overpriced, not great food, terrible service (we actually watched several bartenders refuse to make our drinks from our server… so they must not get along well), and the cocktails were a total waste of money. Sure, the patio is great, but if the rest of the restaurant is terrible then what’s the point? That space deserves much better.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with most of this, but I do have to give it props for being one for the first 3 or so places on H street that helped make it what it is today.

      • MPB

        I mean, agreed, but such is the business life cycle. H Street, especially on that end, has really come into its own over the past few years and old standbys get cycled out. I do see more families here than anywhere else on H which is nice for the neighborhood, but I think the building/restaurant still needs extensive work if it’s going to maintain as a business.

        • Jesse

          one day you may decide to have kids and will realize how important it is to have places like the argonaut around.

          • MPB

            I realize how important it is to have places like this around — I did say that it was good for the neighborhood. But business is business, and bad/misplaced investing will cost you, especially on a property like that. We can only hope that something comes into its place quickly, if it is indeed closing or for sale.

          • Citypretzeldc

            Always this nonsense. No, lots of us don’t want kids. Get over it.

          • CRT

            And if only there were places in the city that catered to those without children – I know it’s so hard having to step over toys and booster seats to find a locally sourced small plates restaurant in DC.

          • anon

            why do you think it’s such a great space? I actually find it awkward and not ideally suited to a restaurant. From the odd shaped interior to the multiple levels. The patio is nice but the atrium is clunky and not aesthetically appealing. The Argo had heart and and a strong sense of community/place — it was appreciated for that more than its menu which wasn’t fabulous but certainly ok.

            I for one will miss it

    • CRT

      Couldn’t disagree more – been dozens of times and they have a solid burger and good fish tacos – it’s a bar, what do you expect. And overpriced? What do you think a burger should cost at a sit down restaurant in Washington, D.C.? $4? This isn’t McDonalds.

      • MPB

        It can be a bar and a restaurant, but to stay in business, it has to do both well. It’s not. It’s overpriced for what it is-the food doesn’t have to be fancy seasonal whatsit, but it should be executed well! In fact, I expect a simple menu like theirs to be executed perfectly! I heard so many great things about this place and wanted to love it with the patio and proximity to my apartment, but it’s just never done it for me.

        I think a lot of people look at what they would get at the Argonaut and find a better option on H Street. For a $50 meal (two entrees, two drinks +tax), I’d rather go to a handful of other places nearby. The service is terrible (my server and several bartenders argued with each other on who would make our drinks for our table the last time I was there). Argonaut hasn’t been that for me in the times I’ve gone, so we take our business elsewhere.

    • Pleasanter

      I always enjoyed their taco Tuesdays and Science Night. Sad to see it go.

  • HStRez

    Mediocre overpriced food, uncaring service, unreliable beer taps, but has somehow managed to survive 10 years or so. I liked it better when it was a dive bar pre-fire with cheap food, and have never understood the cult-like following consistently praising the place.

    Nonetheless, sad to see any local place close, and I usually dropped by for a beer to try and support them since they were local.

    • CRT

      Cannot fathom the “overpriced” comment. It’s about the cheapest place on the street. You think a restaurant on H should have $6 entrees? WTF?

      • markus

        Cannot fathom the “uncaring service” comment. They have the best staff in DC, not in a, “let me tell you what local farm this was grown on by orphans so I can feel superior” but the stay after work to chat with you at the bar, always friendly, care for eachother kind of staff. Amazing neighborhood joint. If you criticize for food, then you don’t get it. Always more “Cheers” than “Top Chef” and that’s just fine.

        • anon

          I’ve seen their staff give modest discounts or comp a drink to patrons rocking favorite sport team gear, including Premier League teams. Always found that very cool.

  • Jane

    It’s hard to believe this is more than a temporary closure. The food was meh, but they were somehow invariably slammed no matter when you showed up. Does the owner really think he could get something better and busier in that space?

  • Hoping this is Temporary

    I’ve been loyal to the Argo since they opened. They opened shortly after I bought my house, and I’ve been a regular patron. They have definitely changed over time and I think they are a great addition in the neighborhood. The owners are committed to the neighborhood and have invested a lot of time and money establishing the Argo as a local “go to” spot. I really hope this is a temporary closure and that they are open this weekend for bottomless mimosa brunch!

  • Kevin

    “This could be a terrible dagger for H Street if permanent.”

    Huh? The “dagger” reference is usually meant to convey a death blow. I don’t see that H Street couldn’t recover from the loss of the Argonaut.

    • Anony

      H Street has jumped the shark

      • ExWalbridgeGuy

        “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”

  • 15thNE

    Argo is my family’s go-to Wednesday night spot for HH and “kids eat free”. The waitstaff knows our beer order and that the ketchup must be hidden from my son until food arrives (or he will try to eat it with a spoon). There are places on H with food I prefer, but I love the Argonaut and hope this is just a temporary situation.

    • Jesse

      This. Well said.

  • a.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the health department shut them down. Last time i was there, cockroaches were crawling everywhere! Two ended up crawling on me before i could haul my ass out of there, the bartender acted like it was normal for it to be infested with roaches , gross

    • Hill Denizen

      That sounds like my worst nightmare. Between that and the comments about the issues with their AC/refrigerant system, it could very well be a health department issue.

    • MPB

      Oh god, yes, this happened to us, too! And their bathroom is … unique? How do I put it nicely? I wondered if I was even supposed to BE in that room. With the mop bucket, and the floor urinal. It was awful.

    • Anon Spock

      Health dept closures come with notices on the door.

  • e in rosedale

    This would suck. I’ve been a patron since they opened in ’05. The place was always authentic and unpretentious. Not to mention they went out of their way to connect with the immediate neighborhood. Really hope this is temporary.

  • A

    Maybe they went on a voyage after finally reading the Wikipedia entry for their name. That guess aside, it would indeed be sad if they are closing: has always been a solid option on H street, and one without an attitude.

  • Dadric

    Damn. If this is permanent, it just continues the slow death of H Street. With all due respect, it seems like a lot of the new people posting here don’t really know what Argonaut meant to the weird, neighborhood-focused H Street that drew so many of us that came to the area before places like Whole Foods dropped in. It may not have been the newest, greatest thing, but it didn’t need to be.

    • Hoping this is Temporary

      +1 to Dadric – The Argo is a reliable neighbor bar/restaurant/pub. Not every dining establishment needs to be some gourmet, trendy, overpriced spot. There is a need for a “basic” family friendly dining options!

  • NEhomeboy

    Now there are zero places to take my 1 year old to eat near our house. I know this is dramatic, but sometimes I our efforts to raise a family in this city are doomed.

    • JoDa

      Huh? I like the Argo and all, but there’s a dozen restaurants right up the street, and most of them are kid-friendly. Yes, Argo went further with the kid-friendliness, but the hyperbole is a bit much.

    • NEhomegirl

      > “Now there are zero places to take my 1 year old to eat near our house.”


    • SassyinDC

      What about outside at Maketto?

      • NEhomeboy

        JoDa – please name 12 I am honestly interested because outside of Grandville moors I don’t know any places on H that are happy to see a stroller on a Friday night.

        NEHomegirl- don’t be a jerk – there is really no need to an Asshat

        SassyinDC – I enjoy your sarcasm I will let you know how my 1 year old enjoys his coconut milk scallop crudo now that and side of mac and cheese cant be found.

  • Alyssa
    • Cleveland Park runner

      That was 2009–same problem this time?

      • todd

        That article was 7 years old. I think are closed for good this time.

  • Trinidaddy

    I’ll always be nostalgic about this place as a neighborhood institution, trailblazer and all that stuff. But the truth is, it has not been very good food-wise, especially after the fire. The wings were terrible, beer prices were meh and the brunch was so so, bottomless mimosas aside. I always struggled to recommend it as a place to go eat for anyone visiting. Sorry to say I won’t miss it.

  • Good memories at Argonaut. Brunch with kids, beers with pals, loud bluegrass…

    They’ve held down a rough corner of DC for a long time now, keeping it alive through shooting after shooting and their fire.

    If this is the end, thanks Argonaut.

  • Chuck

    Another big void if the closing is permanent — no more bluegrass on Thursday nights. That certainly wasn’t overpriced. It was free and the bands were good. Thanks to the owners for supporting bluegrass and acoustic music after Sova went under.

  • JandSilentDjango

    What in the flying fuck…I was just there on Sunday. That’s a damn shame. Does anybody have actual confirmation as to what happened?!

  • CapHill

    This Washington Post story says something about a disagreement among the owners:


  • titus pullo

    ArgonautDC [email protected] 27m27 minutes ago
    RT @argorunclub: Run club this Friday is on. Come run with us and show your support for @ArgonautDC ! @FrozenTropics #KeepArgoRunning

  • Cathy

    For those of us missing bluegrass on Thursdays, Mr Henry’s currently has bluegrass bands on Thursday nights in the upstairs dining room.

  • Abs

    Any updates as to whether it’s permanently closed? News from this week?


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