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One Step Backwards, Two Steps Forward in Cleveland Park!

by Prince Of Petworth May 31, 2017 at 10:22 pm 29 Comments


3435 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Or vice versa. Or at the very least we can call this a wash. Thanks to Justin for sending word that the 7-E opened, which personally only stings so much because this was previously home to two fantastic restaurants – Dino’s and Yanyu.

In more exciting news, on the other end of Cleveland Park’s anachronistic service lane – a flyer for the new farmers market kicking off Saturday (across the street on the west side of Connecticut).

Props to the Cleveland Park Business Association and Susie Taylor, among others, for making the Market happen:

“CPBA is pleased to announce the launch of Cleveland Park’s own Farmers Market every Saturday morning from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on the West sidewalk of Connecticut Ave NW between Newark and Ordway.

Join your friends and neighbors and shop with Garner’s Produce, Stachowski Sausage and Charcuterie, Happy Hens Barnyard eggs, Fresh Crunch pickled items, Les Caprices Belgian waffles plus other great local purveyors. We also hope that you will shop locally at your neighborhood businesses throughout the week.”

Ed. Note: Standby for updates on the Uptown Market and hopefully the inevitable death of the current “service” lane that keeps Cleveland Park in a choke hold of failed suburban car oriented planning. Speaking of which, God willing, historic designation or not, Sam’s Park & Shop – you’re next.

  • Zzzz

    Headline so fleek. Well done PoP!

  • MtP

    I am reserving judgment on the 7-11 – there were people outside being friendly and passing out coupons yesterday when it opened, and I really do like the signage. That being said, it is still just a 7-11 in a gorgeous corner spot, and I feel bad for St. Arnolds, because their patio is now basically a 7-11 patio. I am so excited for the farmer’s market. As for the horrendous service lane, there is an ANC meeting next Thursday that is going to be discussing flooding and streetscape issues, so anyone who is interested in improving the CP streetscape should go. Its 6/8/2017 from 6:30-8:30 at John Eaton Elementary

  • maxwell smart

    While I would have preferred something more exciting than 7-11, I have zero grief over the loss of Dino’s. When they left Cleveland Park, they co-opted the excuse that their business was suffering because Cleveland Park wasn’t “cool” so no one ate there, so they felt they needed to relocate to a hip area of town. It was a BS excuse – look at Sfoglina in Van Ness (an even less “hip” area) – it’s constantly busy and impossible to get reservations.

    Look, I went to Dino’s once in CP and frankly, it wasn’t good. The interior was dated and musty and the food was forgettable at best. Good riddance.

    • GBinCH

      +1. I went because of the hype but only that one time because of the food and service. I went for brunch and the food was overpriced and forgettable. It was supposedly bottomless but near impossible to get a refill on drinks. I’ll never go back.

    • wdc

      I have a friend who loved Dino’s. It was actually her Favorite Restaurant. So I went with her once. Even with reservations we got seated next to the bussing station and kitchen door; the service was mediocre and the food was sub-par.
      You’d think I’d learn my lesson. But no, same friend insisted that we try the new place in Shaw. Service was pretty good. Food was even worse than the first go-round, and more expensive.
      I simply don’t get it.

    • Joshua

      I went there many times and can’t recall ever having a bad meal. But it was definitely better when it first opened, and the space seemed way too big. If they would’ve done away with the upstairs seating area, it might have been more reasonably sized.

    • MtP

      +1000 for this. So much love for Dino’s, but I went there three times and it was unforgettable at best each time. And the griping about the neighborhood really got to me. Great point about Sfoglina. And look at Bindaas, just down the street – doing well. And Ripple (and several others) are surviving just fine.

    • Bobert

      Dino wasn’t wrong about the neighborhood bein less hip though (and thus less incidental foot traffic – though I doubt the current location gets more incidental customers than before). The food at the new location was pretty good from what I recall. Does it hold a candle to Red Hen? No, it does not (and it was more expensive if I’m not mistaken), but the food was still pretty solid.

      • maxwell smart

        My point stands though – if Dino’s had good food and service, the location would be irrelevant. Plenty of places in CP, Van Ness, etc. that are not trendy areas of town are doing great business. I found his attitude about the neighborhood extremely off-putting and have 100% zero desire to patronize his new location.

        • Bobert

          That’s fair – his attitude effectively blaming the CP residents for his demise was incredibly off-putting (and an obvious projection of his seeming immaturity). He could’ve simply relocated without the useless diatribe.

      • CHSC

        Why the comparison to Red Hen? Am I missing some connection?

        They’re not in the same neighborhood.

        • Bobert

          Pasta/”Italian” – Red Hen is my standard-bearer for that type of cuisine. (Sfoglina is on the list to try.)

          • CHSC

            Got it. Thanks. Sfoglina also on my list.

    • anon

      Used to eat out on that strip A LOT (multiple times a week for some time), but only went to Dino’s two or three times in all those years. The food wasn’t great, and the interior was a real turn off. Dino’s got left behind by other nearby restaurants who made their customers much happier.

    • Anony4This

      One of the reasons Sfoglina is succeeding is because Van Ness has a much larger population base on Connecticut Avenue. They have much more density, especially with Park Van Ness opening. Talk to the NIMBYish CP residents who live in houses, and they will say they support local restaurants but have not yet tried Coppi’s (it’s been there for 3 years already). They love their parking at the service lane because they can buy groceries, but they are not much of an economic benefit to the businesses in CP.

      • maxwell smart

        Sure, Park Van Ness is a largish new building, but there’s a decent amount of density around Cleveland Park – Kennedy Warren, the complex across from the zoo, Quebec House, etc. Yeah they are not directly right on top of where Dino’s was, but I’m sure that 1-2 blocks is not going to inconvenience someone enough not to eat somewhere.

        • Anony4This

          I don’t have the numbers handy, but Van Ness has a larger population than Cleveland Park on Connecticut. Also, Van Ness doesn’t have the equivalent of Cathedral Heights competition (similarly priced restaurants, cute outdoor seating) just to its west.

  • Joshua

    How is the service lane anachronistic? If you’ve ever tried to find a parking space on that block, you’d recognize its utility. Now granted, that sidewalk is dangerously narrow and I’m surprised that pedestrians aren’t struck there weekly, but as long as all those little shops have any say in the matter, I’m betting it will remain.

    • anon

      Agree with this – as someone who uses that service lane frequently, it is very useful. Sidewalk is indeed too small, and you have to have an eagle eye out for pedestrians who step into the lane without looking behind them to see if there are any cars coming when driving through it.

    • maxwell smart

      It’s the only block on Connecticut that has this configuration. It’s a nightmare for trafffic and makes the sidewalk incredibly hostile and unsafe. It provides something like 12 parking spaces – it’s unnessary and a detriment to the business, IMO. This is a metro accessible area and there is a parking lot nearby that is generally empty.

      • Anony4This

        22 spots. The businesses swear by it. The people who live west of Connecticut Avenue swear by it. The group of people who actually do most of the shopping on the business strip next to the service lane (according to the Deputy Mayor’s study of CP and the service lane study) are young, like to shop, and not vocal.

        • maxwell smart

          I think it’s more that the residents of this area have a lot of time on their hands and are resistant to change, so they come to ANC meetings and speak the loudest so they can make sure their little bubble remains impervious to progress. And as a result, they are getting a strip mall full of convenience stores and corporate chains. The area has so much potential to be a cool, vibrant area of town but is continually held back by a bunch of entitled busybodies.

          • Anony4This

            You sound like two or three of the new ANC commissioners in Cleveland Park.

          • Joshua

            I don’t believe that this service lane is singlehandedly holding back the vibrance of Cleveland Park.

          • Raya

            +1000

  • jpvt

    It would have been nice to see 7-11 be progressive and do something a little different with the space, but I guess that is too much to ask. Despite such a handsome location, walking in there you could be in any 7-11 in America.

    Fun fact – Tiny Japan has nearly 60,000 7-11s to America’s 10,000. Consider ourselves lucky!

    • textdoc

      Convenience stores in Japan are awesome. (Though I was never a big fan of 7-Elevens there — more a fan of Lawson’s and Family Mart.) Unlike here, where they tend to sell mainly junk food at ripoff prices, convenience stores in Japan have decent prices and sell things other than just junk food.
      .
      I especially miss the inari-zushi (envelopes of caramelized tofu, with sushi rice inside) from Japanese convenience stores.

  • Swaz

    One vacant store front gets filled, two more become vacant.

  • Hey all – I’m the ANC for this district (Fightin’ 3C04). As MtP pointed out, there’s a DDOT hearing about their streetscape plan. It’d be great to have more community voices there!
    .
    For those of you who are opposed to the service lane, the businesses strongly support the service lane and their buy-in will be necessary to get rid of it. From the conversations I’ve had, it sounds like the only way they’d be okay with the service lane going is if there were a commensurate (or larger) increase in foot traffic. The way Cleveland Park is zoned, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
    .
    I’m a little concerned that we’re going to be a corridor of nail salons and convenience stores if the community’s expressed views on change hold. Like with the national political landscape, we have to be the change we wish to see. If you want to see an increase in population density on top of the Metro station and down Connecticut Ave in Cleveland Park, then you can’t just post on PoPville or GGW about it, you have to show up at ANC meetings and push for it. You have to file comments with HPRB or BZA. It takes work.
    .
    There are a lot of people in Cleveland Park who think of Cleveland Park when it was at its peak – it had great restaurants and was the destination for people living in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, Van Ness, Cathedral Heights, and beyond. As those places have developed great places to eat and go out, the demand for Cleveland Park has decreased. As the city’s fortunes have spread east and south, Cleveland Park’s fortunes have decreased. Cleveland Park isn’t a destination anymore, but it’s hard for a lot of folks to admit that. It’s still a great, livable and walkable community. It’s an absolutely beautiful neighborhood with historic homes and two gorgeous conservancies. But if the commercial strip is going to be anything close to what it used to be, then Cleveland Park’s Connecticut Ave corridor will have to grow.
    .
    You can reach me at [email protected] if you want to grab coffee or a beer and sit down and talk about this stuff. I’m trying to do my best to help build a sense of community in my little SMD, so please, reach out, come visit our Cleveland Park farmers market or hit our Cleveland Park bar crawl this weekend.

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