The Curse Continues – Chao Ku Listed for Sale

by Prince Of Petworth January 9, 2017 at 10:10 am 25 Comments

1414 9th Street, NW

Welp, if you doubted the curse of 1414 9th Street before…this is the former home to Vegetate, Cafe Eagle, Taqueria Mexicana, Eagle (again), Northern Restaurant and Secret Lounge and Sports Bar. And now it looks like we’ll soon add Chao Ku who only opened after extensive fundraising and renovations back in June. The restaurant is listed for sale for $350,000:

“Newly built out restaurant in hot Shaw market with cheap rent and outdoor seating opportunity.

Real Estate: Leased
Building Sq. Ft.: 2,542
Lease Expiration: 8/15/2026
Facilities: Brand new build out. All equipment in excellent condition
Competition: This built out restaurant is located in the heart of the District’s Shaw neighborhood.
Growth & Expansion: The restaurant can be easily converted to various concepts. There is a large outdoor patio opportunity.
Financing: Possibly
Reason for Selling: Focus on other ventures
Business Website: http://www.chaokudc.com/”

Stay tuned…

  • new

    I am really sorry to see this, I hope this doesn’t mean that they are definitely closing. We just ordered there for the first time Saturday and thought that it was very good.

  • Truxton Thomas

    Noooo! Man, they are such a solid takeout option—ma pao tofu as good as Great Wall and great veggie options. Please relocate—and stay in the neighborhood!

  • EB

    Nooo! Love Chao Ku! That Ginger Fish has become one of my husband and I’s favorite dishes in DC. It’s a local go-to for us – don’t go!

  • Andie302

    I’m surprised that people are singing the praises of this place. The first time I went I ordered something that someone else recommended and it was like a quart of buttered noodles with pork dust on top. It was nearly inedible, took a long time to wait for on my walk home, and when I waited the music was blasting super loud and a manager was giving a new employee a hard time. I vowed never to come back. Months later some friends raved about a different dish so I gave it a second try and it was just okay. I wanted to love this place because so far the Chinese options in the neighborhood have been subpar at best.

    • Truxton Thomas

      Our first takeout experience wasn’t memorable, but we’ve had it several times since and loved it. Good food and portion size. I will say the one time we ate in, the service was incompetent, but the food was great.

  • Neighbor

    Tragic. Chao Ku is great but that location is so inconvenient. In particular for fast casual.

  • siz

    this SUCKS. this place has become a regular take out spot for me the last few months. i love them and have been singing their praises. really sad to see this.

  • elbeech

    I too really like this place and will be disappointed if it closes.

    Are the restaurant owners the same as the building owners?

    • I don’t think so – space is leased until 2026.

    • fks Shawess

      I find this confusing too, from the way it’s worded. It refers to cheap rent but there is a listed sale price. I can’t tell if the $350k is to buy the space (which would seem cheap) or buy out the lease and maybe the concept.

      • I’m pretty sure $350k gives you the business ie Chao Ku and the right to the 10 year lease. You still have to pay monthly rent.

        • fka Shawess

          Got it. So this -may- stay Chao Ku, but under new management?

          • Technically it could but I highly highly doubt that. I expect it will be bought by someone and turned into their own vision.

  • JohnH

    I had hopes for this place – and a lot of people liked their food – but the problem is, it was a VERY specific menu. There wasn’t a lot of “universal” stuff on the menu which is kinda important for a take out place.
    While they may have done a lot of renovations inside, the outside is still incredibly uninviting – still very black like the previous occupants.
    I think if you do a quality fast casual place, for example, tacos! (no personal preference involved) – I think you’d do pretty well (as long as Chipotle stays away). There isn’t a lot of competition around – unless City Market lowers their standards for retail, it’s mostly just expensive sit down restaurants around and very little fast casual. Especially when the next phase of City Market opens.

    • JMF

      Agreed. It was uninviting.

      I live a block away. I’ve stopped in twice to get a menu and to ask an employee about take-out (we are always looking for new take-out options) but no one ever greeted me…either time. I was left standing in a darkish hallway or stairwell trying to figure out where to go…

      Great Wall Szechuan House it is. I love you Great Wall Szechuan House!

  • cam

    Count me among the sad ones. I only went once, and it’s my fault for not having gone back several more times. I meant to do that. I really liked the noodle dishes I had, and the plate of pickles was amazing.

  • northeazy

    Not surprising. The owner is the same person as Broad Branch Market in upper NW/Chevy Chase area, so he obviously has business experience. I think ultimately he was a victim of his own success. Broad Branch Market, despite being absolutely buried in a suburban neighborhood in a metro inaccessible far flung region of the city, did very well because they put forth quality product and had great word of mouth and a community vibe. Shaw is different. If you do not get a splashy City Paper article or a first bite review from Tom Sietsema or one of his underlings, you are dead in the water.

    • JohnH

      I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Tom Sietsema doesn’t really talk about fast casual places much to begin with. One place that has done seemingly well in Shaw is Pizza D’Oro which absolutely did not benefit from blog coverage, Tom Sietsema, etc. They marketed themselves well in the neighborhood, provided very good customer service and a welcoming store front. Now they’ve added a second location in Adams Morgan. I don’t think their pizza (all about their calzones) is amazing or anything, but it’s a reliable place to go that you know what you’re going to get.
      This place had a very eclectic menu (which is not ideal for a take-out spot), a not welcoming storefront and I live a few blocks from the place and never experienced any sort of marketing. I guarantee you have a welcoming storefront and have pretty good tacos, BBQ, wings or even just pizza/Italian – it would do pretty well on its own. There’s plenty of residents in that area between some of the long-time housing, as well as hundreds of apartments that make up the City Market and Jefferson place buildings.

  • ExWalbridgeGuy

    Is $350,000 a good price for something like this? That seems like a lot of money to pay to basically take over someone’s lease and kitchen equipment, but I’m not in the industry so don’t really know.

  • TropicBird

    I hate to say it but Starbucks broke the curse for the southwest corner of 18th & Columbia? So maybe?

    • JohnH

      Not that this would stop it from happening, but there is a Starbucks basically across the street.

  • Lisa

    The owner John Fielding recently opened Soapstone Market in Van Ness so the ‘other ventures” is legitimate.

    • Lisa

      In other words, this does not feel like a desperation sale rather he’s just throwing it out there to see if somebody bites. The year and 10 months it took to open was undoubtedly an unexpected blow financially, nevertheless it’s at least limping along until the upcoming 9th St. developments by Roadside and Four Points/Warrenton in the immediate neighborhood come to fruition. I have lamented for a while that they need a PR person as they were left off many lists they should have been on, and agree that the facade needs to be made more inviting.

  • Otis Gal


    • Otis Gal

      :( :( :(


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