“I was grocery shopping and saw one run right in front​ of​ me across the ​cereal ​aisle​.”

by Prince Of Petworth April 11, 2017 at 12:30 pm 82 Comments

3830 Georgia Ave, NW

“Dear PoPville,

Just wanted to share that rodents have made their way into the “new” Safeway in Petworth. Really unfortunate. I’ve reported it to the city but wanted to share with PoPville.

I was grocery shopping and saw one run right in front​ of​ me across the ​cereal ​aisle​. It ran​ from one bottom shelf to the other​. I was so ​shocked and ​disgusted that I just left my​ half-full grocery cart right there and walked out. I tried to tell customer service on my way out, but there was no one there.​ Also, I figured it was better to report to the city​, as I’m sure Safeway must​ already be aware.

​I moved to Petworth about a week or two before the Safeway opened. I had never been to the “Smelly Safeway” but from what I hear, it was pretty bad! I hope that our new Safeway doesn’t go down the same path.”

Ed. Note: The old store was known as the Stinky Safeway.

stinky safeway
Back in 2010

  • Mark

    This is unfortunate, but having been one of the first users of the new Coast Guard building at the St E’s complex I became aware that rodents sometimes take up residence during construction and it takes some time to eliminate them after completion. Granted, that scenario likely won’t shield SW from a health violation.

    • Lauren

      This Safeway opened Summer 2014 though…

      • MadMax

        Maybe they are R.O.U.S.

      • anon29

        I referred to the old one as the “Un – Safeway”. It smelled like a mix of animal and human urine. Lived across the street in 2012-2013.

  • textdoc

    OP, what kind of rodent did you see — a rat or a mouse?
    Both are gross, but I find the idea of a rat in a grocery store even more disturbing than a mouse in a grocery store.

    • Mojotron


      • FridayGirl

        Awww, I’d be okay with a capybara in the store! SO CUTE!

  • Dude

    Yeah- are we talking mouse or are we talking rat?? A mouse can be tolerated.

    • maxwell smart

      “A mouse can be tolerated” – oh hell no. I have a zero rodent tolerance.

      • Anon NS

        You realize how many mice you consume a year in cereal, right?

        • FoggyBottom

          and in wine, especially if two buck chuck is to your liking

  • Eileen

    This happened to me too a few months back. Perhaps I’m just disillusioned and/or my standards for this Safeway are pretty much nonexistent a this point, but I kept shopping. (Though I did stop in shock for a moment.)

    • Anononononon

      That was me a few months ago too. Stopped, jaw dropped, looked around to see if anyone else saw (nope), then kept shopping. Still needed food for dinner either way…

  • That stinky SW pic brings back memories . . . some good, some not so good.

  • theharleyquinn

    This Safeway has an awful checkout situation. Self-checkout machines break on the regular and the other lines are normally unattended or blocked off.

    • Ava16

      Sounds like every Safeway in the city…

  • pizza rat

    I shop here all the time becasue it is close. But this store is horrible. It is poorly stocked, I come across several empy spots on the shelves for things I want to buy every time I go. The vegitables start rotting before you get home. you get the picture. The walls are new, but there is no substance.

    I once saw a few birds in there, and I told the staff, and the said “oh yeah we tried to get them out but couldn’t”, and that was the end of it. oh well.

    If we are lucky one of the hawks around town will come in the store and get the mouse. That might call for a popville live stream. Would that even be possible without the help of Zardulu?

    • NH Ave Hiker

      Yea I find empty shelves frequently but it isn’t that bad. I’ve never had an issue with most of the produce.

      • thanks

        god that was so funny pizza rat, thank you for the sincere LOL – please let’s get a full ecosystem going on at the safeway

        • MsSunshine

          Pizza Rat has been replaced by Taco Squirrel in NY. Google it :-)

          • FridayGirl


          • Ally


          • Elvis’s Mom

            That was amazing. Perhaps the rodent in question was simply preparing for Taco Tuesday?

    • tke98

      The bird thing. Pretty common. I’ve seen them in several of the local Whole Foods (P Street, Tenley Town), too. They fly in and stay up in the rafters due to the high ceilings and it’s difficult to get them out.

    • eva

      I must just be jaded by the years of terrible supermarkets. I still think the Petworth Safeway and the Park Road Giant are serviceable grocery stores. Not fancy, but when I need to buy some fairly generic grocery products, totally fine, if sometimes crowded/slow.

      • JB

        +1. I shop here multiple times per week and it’s…fine. Just fine. I’m OK with that.

    • ET

      I find every Safeway sucky in the stocking department. I suspect that this is a bigger corporate policy issue. I mean seriously if you can’t stock your milk correctly then there are bigger problems.

    • Idontgetit

      Wait *another* pizza rat ID on here?

      • textdoc

        I think the other poster was referring to the (in)famous NYC subway Pizza Rat.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not surprising that a rodent can get into a building. I’ve seen mice and rats walk scurry through the front door of two different DC bars/restaurants, and neither were dives. The owners were upset about it, but there wasn’t a lot they could do to prevent it. A rodent running along the side of the building can go right through Safeway’s automatic doors. The store operator should absolutely know that this is a foregone conclusion, and should have the store treated for rodents on a consistent basis. It’s unclear if they are doing this.

    • FoggyBottom

      My wife and I noticed a rate scurry across the floor while dining at Blue Duck Tavern last year. Seems few places are immune, whether high or low brow

      • CapNoView14

        True, when I moved here 10 years ago the 1st thing I was told by my new boss was that rats own the city its apart of living in DC. So get use to it

  • Minda

    The old SW smelled like rotten seafood, but didn’t have a seafood dept. The giant at O st is further for me but totally worth it. Plus they serve beer.

  • Schaefway

    I understand you were grossed out, but don’t leave a cart of food and walk out of the store!

    • Kevin

      Alternatively, feel free to walk out of a store that sells food when you see rodents in the aisles.

      • FridayGirl

        I had the initial reaction as Schaefway but then I said to myself, “Well what was she going to do? Go around and re-stock everything? I wouldn’t!” Hahaha…. I think you may be on to something, Kevin.

        • MadMax

          Given the number of people I see “working” in grocery stores routinely doing nothing I think they’ll manage through this minor restocking inconvenience.

      • ExWalbridgeGuy

        #TeamKevin if there’s rodents at the grocery store then I’m out. Sorry, but the bargain when I walk into a grocery store is that there’s no rodents.

    • ET

      I was walking done Penn Ave. SE on Saturday and the rat patrol was out working on a known location.

      As for rodents, just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Every place with food likely has them and most places so work to keep them out, so if this is a real problem for you good luck living in any metropolitan area.

    • ET

      Sorry – this was meant to be a more general comment not in reply to your comment.

    • Ally


  • Dcdenizen

    Pretty sure every grocery store in DC haso mice. The question is how many, and what is management doing about it.

  • anon7

    D.C. has had a serious rodent problem for at least the past year. I have seen them all over the city. A while back, I was hanging near the DuPont circle fountain and saw like 10 rats having a party by a trash can.

    • anon

      That’s bc Dupont Circle is a Rat Sanctuary. https://www.yelp.com/biz/dupont-circle-rat-sanctuary-washington

      • FridayGirl

        +1. I saw this about 6 years ago when I first interned here in DC.
        (Although I have been seeing more dead rats near my apartment near U Street than I have in the past two years — both dead and alive.)

      • Jay

        Last year, they took out all the shrubbery in Dupont Circle to address the rat problems there. Anecdotally, I noticed the situation had improved afterward, but I don’t walk through there often anymore (especially after dark), so I don’t know if that has been sustained…

        • FridayGirl

          They probably all moved a mile up the street…. hahaha….

        • Anonymous

          The rat holes are back, despite the plants being gone. As long as the city (and NPS) insist on using rat-friendly garbage cans, this will continue to happen. If you work in rat abatement you must be having a field day. There always is work to do.

    • wdc

      I’ve seen them all over the city for 10+ years. My favorite was the mice at the small mammal house, just hanging out with the golden lion tamarins, eating the monkey food, like they belonged there.
      I’m curious to know when in our history people got so precious about rodents. We’ve always lived with them. Always. Was it when we made the switch to more processed/ packaged food? And now that food preferences are trending back to more whole/ natural foods, and the mice are coming with it, we can’t deal?

      • FridayGirl

        In dead seriousness, I have a feeling that at least a quarter of the answer has to do with the plague.

        • Ava16

          HAHAAH +1000. Was just thinking this.

        • wdc

          I’ll go with your 25% estimate! :)
          Although… now I need someone to research when the connection was made between plague and rats (and fleas).

          • MadMax

            Didn’t they recently determine it was gerbils, rather than mice/rats?

          • wdc

            That sounds like the premise for a Monty Python sketch. Beware the gerbils!

          • Elvis’s Mom

            There’s a Richard Gere joke in here somewhere…

    • MadMax

      Where were you hanging out prior to a year ago, because they’ve been a problem as long as I’ve been here, which is 10 years, and I’m guessing were a problem well before then as well.

    • mice exist

      past year? you think this is new?

  • anon

    I’ve seen mice at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan too. I think they’re endemic to grocery stores. I also find it weird there are birds in many grocery stores (such as the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter, P St and Friendship Heights Whole Foods, etc.). I know if would be impossible to keep them out of the loading dock doors, but don’t they poop on the produce?

    • MadMax

      Yeah but don’t worry that ounce of mist that gets sprayed on them totally cleans the poop off.

    • wdc

      You know where else produce gets pooped on? In the fields, where it grows. This is why we wash our food.

    • FridayGirl

      Really? That’s interesting. I feel like that’s a pretty clean grocery store. Then again, as long as the problem isn’t so serious that they’re out on the floor with the customers routinely, I’m a “it happens, moving on” kind of person.

      • INWDC

        I’ve spotted mice twice in the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan. And I’ve returned moldy/rotten produce at least 4 times over the past couple of years, as well as contracted food poisoning from their prepared foods 1 time. I go there because it’s a block from my place and I’m a dumb lazy human, but I have a feeling I’d have the same experience at any grocery store in DC (except maybe for Wholefoods or Yes…but they have their own set of problems). Since too many of my years have been spent in DC and not in another city I’d love to hear what others’ grocery store experiences have been in say NYC or SF.

        • FridayGirl

          Huh. I guess I buy most of my produce at WF or Trader Joe’s and get mostly packaged stuff (almost always frozen, or pasta sauce) from Harris Teeter, so perhaps I’ve just been out of the loop. I think you’re right that everywhere has issues.

          • INWDC

            Yeah, it’s mostly their produce that’s been a problem (though I did buy some fancy butter that had an expiration date that was about 4 months old!) but if Whole Foods were closer I’d probably resort to them more often for produce

  • anon

    It’s a city, people. I’d venture to bet that every grocery store in the city has rodents. Put together a large population of rats and mice, rotting food, and millions of ways for small creatures to enter buildings (meaning they don’t have to walk through the doors to get there), and you might see that the problem is inevitable. Yes, they should be working to keep the population inside down so they aren’t scurrying around while we are shopping, so that we can maintain the delusion that they aren’t there (but they are, always will be). Same for restaurants – I’ve seen them scurry by while eating in good, expensive restaurants in DC. And I’ve lived in two very expensive old condo buildings in DC, the kind with full time staff and on-site maintenance people, and in each place I’ve seen rats the size of large cats in the garbage room in the basement, and we’ve had mice infestations in the units in each building – management does then work to combat them, but it is, and always will be, an ongoing problem in a city.

  • Tito Jackson

    Not just a Safeway problem, but a neighborhood problem. Rats all around Petworth are huge and menacing. They used to poison them, sweep alleys, ticket hoarders, and pick up alley junk which kept them away for years but now the city is way too lax, and trash pick up in neighborhoods is way too lax and totally scarce at times. It’s mainly DPW & Bowser’s fault, but yeah, Safeway is way too relaxed on quality of their stores.

  • Guillermo Brown

    I blame, in part, the Wendy’s across the street. Terrible trash maintenance, numerous DOH violations, generally gross. Is that really the best and highest use for that lot?

    • stacksp

      So the rats leave the apparent ample supply of food amongst the trash at Wendys to cross the street and hang in the aisles of the Safeway?

      • FridayGirl

        Maybe even the rats think the Wendy’s is gross?

        • stacksp


      • Guillermo Brown

        Well, they start with Wendy’s but then cross the street for dessert.

  • Jonathan

    I am not surprised by this because DC have a rodent problems and rats congregate near food. I believe the Whole Foods in Glover Park was closed several weeks ago for rodent and other problems. I have seen birds flying around in the Petworth Safeway in the past.

  • ftoast

    FWIW there are several (what appear to be) rodent traps along the wall in the alley behind the building and in the parking garage.

    • DeanWillow

      Yep. I have noticed the traps too…yet I still shop there.

  • MadMax

    This is perfect timing for the Kitty Cat “Daycare” we read about yesterday. Sounds like a great field trip activity for the cat attendees.

  • Ally

    Somehow the OP leaving her/his cart filled in the middle of the aisle… for someone else to deal with… just seems kind of overblown and rude. This could have been handled with a phone call or email to management and to city officials. It’s just a mouse. Seriously. I agree it shouldn’t be in the store, but why all the drama?

  • Bort

    In other news, water determined to be wet. “Really unfortunate,” muttered disgusted area resident into the void before storming out of real life into oblivion, abandoning all belongings.

    * * * * *

    Then some dudes in an SUV picked the belongings up and someone else tweeted about it and then several hundred people discussed it on a neighborhood blog.

  • William Giery

    Food + Trash = rodents. That’s life in the naked city.


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