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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Napa 1015 Closing Restaurant

As many of you already know, Napa 1015 is closing the doors of its restaurant operations October 24th. I think this a huge loss to H Street, but I hope (knowing that they own their building) that they will reopen once the economy improves, and that stretch of H Street matures a bit (i.e. gets more businesses). This is a very tough time for most of us, and local restaurants and bars are really feeling the hit as people scale back.

Though I visited only occasionally (I have some budget concerns) I never felt that I overpaid at Napa, and every meal I've eaten there has been memorable. If you haven't tried them yet, you might want to check them out before they close. And if you are a regular, I don't need to tell you to reserve a night for a last visit. The good news is that they will continue to operate the catering portion of their business. You can learn more about that from their website. Napa's food is excellent. Please consider them for your next special event. 

As someone who has worked (but doesn't currently) in the food service industry on H Street, you might also consider tossing your server a couple of dollars extra. With the tight economy, new work doesn't come as easy as it once did (and servers really do work much harder than it appears for their tips).

32 comments:

Jesse said...

It makes me sick to my stomach every time I think about Napa closing. So sad.

Jeff said...

I've had many great meals there. It's a real shame they have to close. I can't wait 'til they're able to re-open.

Campy said...

Crap, this is really sad. Now I feel like I should have gone there a lot more.

Anonymous said...

A bit surprising really. I was there on Friday night, and they were very busy, despite it raining cats & dogs.

1015 fan said...

wow so sad. I was never convinced H street could support a "date night" type of restaurant, and I suppose I was correct. It "seemed" expensive, but entrees are generally the same price as those at H Street Country Club. Napa 1015 just seemed fancy and expensive.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the problem was that H Street isn't ready for a date spot or a nice restaurant, but that Napa maybe wasn't quite firing on all cylinders. My biggest complaint about H Street is the lack of spots that do what Napa purports to do, Napa just didn't quite do it well enough for me. Hopefully they will reopen when the econmy improves and once the other ventures slated for this block get going. In the meantime, H Street remains increasingly ripe for a new spot that's more of a restaurant and less of a bar. Somewhere to get a bottle of wine, instead of a beer.

Anonymous said...

If they were not firing on all cylinders it was not for lack of excellent food, friendly and personal service (sometimes sloppy, but always friendly), and pleasant atmosphere. My guess is that it really is just economic -- the place has a fairly small number of tables and a nice full menu. Not much in terms of economy of scale and no huge tips to attract top-level serving talent. Add in the recession, the coming road construction, the Washington Times, and the delays in constructing/filling the residential developments on the Western end of H and you've got some bad luck too. Don't forget the time a car ran into their storefront!

I do think given the food and personal touch the place ultimately has what it takes to be successful and I do very much hope we'll see a re-opening (and better marketing!) once the climate improves. In the meantime, we'll be stopping in this week for sure.

Anonymous said...

Saturday night they served me a tremendous dish that could not have been any more appropriate for the nasty weather -- duck cassoulet with lamb sausage. On par with what I have eaten in Europe. Shame.

soul searcher said...

never got to make it down there. i regret not supporting them earlier now. but i will try to make it out before they close

not on parker said...

Napa 1015 should not be criticized for the price of its food! Mussels with fries at Granville Moore's runs $18.00. Pork tenderloin, buttery linguini, and fresh english peas at Napa 1015 runs $18.00. At the height of its business, Napa 1015 never charged more than $24.00 for an entrée!

Anonymous said...

Early in its existence, Napa lacked physical visibility. The size of their abode and lack of an overhang (thanks to the manufacturer incessantly fucking up the lettering and design) kept them more or less anonymous. Things did not improve tremendously thereafter.

Also early in its existence, Napa suffered two severe financial setbacks. Because they owned their building outright, they had to pay big money to repair severe water damage (which rendered the second floor useless) from a leaking roof. They also had to close for three months because a car drove through the front of their building. Not good stuff.

I suspect they will continue to use the building as a base for their catering business...

Anonymous said...

This was by far my favorite place on H St. They needed a bigger sign, as I knew where it was and obviously the address and I would pass it up sometimes. The prices were great for what you get and the service was spectacular. What a BIG loss for the area.

Russ

12:29 said...

All these comments make me hopeful that Napa will reopen as a full-service restaurant with time. I have heard that there will be another exciting addition to this block soon. By the way, does anyone know what is coming to the 1100 block that is referenced on the H St Main Street website? http://www.hstreet.org/Hstreet_construction.php

Anonymous said...

Yes, it's sad NAPA is closing. I ate their once, and everything was 4 star. I didn't find it expensive. I don't know why they couldn't attract more customers. Maybe H street still isn't ready for an upscale kind of place, but closing it down when they're still catering out of it seems like the easy way out.

As a mediocre front of house worker in the hospitality industry, I can tell you that sales are down, new shifts are impossible to pick up, but tips aren't that bad. I don't buy this economy is bad talk. The business is still out there, people need to drink. I am not sure what ideas Napa has done, but if you really want to make money, you have to want it.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about NAPA closing.I thought the food and service was great,especially the house made desserts.I think that economy had a lot to do with the closing.I wish them well and hope that they reopen

Annoyingmous said...

The failure rate in the restaurant industry is huge -- the odds are hugely against any restaurant succeeding. Recently in this blog, in response to people mocking the idea of a $3 cupcake, Joe Englert laid out numbers showing that even at such a high price, the store in question had to sell literally hundreds a day just to break even. Obviously H Street doesn't have Georgetown rents; but the operating costs of a full restaurant are significantly larger than a cupcake bakery, too. You have to do a *lot* of business. Somebody mentioned Napa being really busy on Friday; but to succeed, you have to be busy on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. And as someone else mentioned, for a small place like Napa, there are no economies of scale: your overhead/expenses per diner are high; and you can't make up for a lousy Tuesday-Wednesday by doing fantastic Friday-Saturday business, because you're constrained in how good your good nights can be by how many tables you have.

So it's not enough to be a good restaurant. You have to be a fantastic restaurant, or have some unusual quirk or other attraction . . .*and*, folks outside the neighborhood have to know that you have this fantastic food or unusual quirk or whatever. Otherwise, you're not going to attract people outside the neighborhood/walking distance to your place.

From my experience, the food at Napa was not fantastic. I'm not saying it was bad, not at all, so don't even try it -- I'm simply saying that it was not *fantastic*. It was usually solid fare; but that's not enough to draw someone from outside the area specifically to eat at Napa. Whether it's the quality of the food, or some other characteristic, you have to have something that pulls people in from all over if you want to be busy on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well as Fridays and Saturdays. The food was fine, but it wasn't exceptionally good compared to other good restaurants in DC; and there wasn't some other quirk that would generate interest across the city.

Frankly, it's hard to imagine a place with Napa's footprint succeeding as a serious restaurant unless they're simply outstanding, and known for it. Obelisk pulls it off in a very small place; but dining at Obelisk means a party of two is going to drop over $200, and they have the quality in every facet of their business to successfully ask such prices and be busy, too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what annon 1:00 stated. While NAPA tried, their food was okay-good, but not really great. When they cut their hours to save costs, you could almost see the writing on the wall.
I think they were ahead of their time and hope when stuff changes even more on H St, they will be able to re-open with a revamped menu...

SadNeighborsK&J said...

I have to chime in now. Having moved from Seattle, I have, on average, found the DC restaurant scene very lacking. We tried, and overpaid for, many of the downtown restaurants that turned out to be nothing above mediocre but are flocked to because of some chef name. We were so happy to find Napa. The staff were so personable and the food was yummy. Have you tried any of their shanks? The meat practically pushes the bone away. Their sauces are impeccable. I have yet to have a bad meal there and have always been happy with my check at the end of the meal.

We are quite sad to see them go. I am very much keeping my fingers crossed that they will come back a few years down the road. Right now, people are just coming in for the bars, which is not the same crowd that will stop in at Napa.

They may not have a 9 hole golf course, but they have their angle is the nicest staff you will find on H st.

oboe said...

I have to chime in now. Having moved from Seattle, I have, on average, found the DC restaurant scene very lacking. We tried, and overpaid for, many of the downtown restaurants that turned out to be nothing above mediocre but are flocked to because of some chef name. We were so happy to find Napa.

I liked Napa as a local spot, and am sad to see it close--mostly because I liked the proprietor--but let's not get carried away. There are a *lot* of good restaurants in DC.

Anonymous said...

There are also A LOT of highly mediocre restaurants here that seem to be popular only because they are popular. DC is like that.

How's this for H-Street sacrilege: The last two times I've been to Granville Moore's we were treated with seeming disdain by the disinterested "hostess" who sat at the bar (on weekdays when they were full but there was no wait) and we were served rubber fish with over-cooked vegetables and barely luke-warm Moules in a surprisingly watery sauce. I used to love the place, but lately the food at Napa had been a better bet. The crowds sure do not seem to have noticed though.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what's going in across the street from Napa, I heard rumblings of brick oven pizza?

Anonymous said...

Word on "the street" is that the guys that own Hamilton's bar are opening a brick oven pizza / new england-style seafood joint in the old Tropicana place. They'll also have outdoor seating. Looking to open in January, though you never know with the permitting/inspection process in this city.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy!! I cannot wait for yet another pizza place on H Street.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:07 -- I have no idea whether the food at the brick oven pizza place being discussed will be any good; maybe it won't. But your post seems to suggest that its natural competitors will be all the already existing carryout/delivery pizza places on or near H, which is just nuts. If 2 Amys wasn't around, I promise you the folks getting pizza there wouldn't be patronizing a place like Good Danny's instead.

Anonymous said...

Joe Englert said:

Anon 6:37---

I really am apologetic that you did not have a good experience at Granville Moore's the last two times. Please email me at joe@dcpanic.net and let me talk to you about them. I would love to have you there as my guest to right the situation. And please, if you don't have a GREAT experience please immediately tell the GM there, Brooke or Pat, they will make sure you are treated well and are served good food. Thanks and make sure to get in touch with me. Thanks

diane said...

Until a real pizza place opens on H St NE...who in their right mind would patronize Good Dannys for pizza anyway??? Try Bistro Italiano located at 320 D St NE. It is small inside so get there early. The pizza is great, and reminds me of what I used to get as a kid living in a Chicago suburb. Back then we didn't have all of these pizza chains, only the mom and pop pizza joints located in neighborhoods. They didn't deliver...we would go there. Bistro's crust is really great and their pizza is really Italian old world style. We had pizza in Italy a few years back and would not even touch any when we returned..but now..we go there every Friday night and indulge. Manga.
A few times the fries at Granville's we not crisp, but pale and limp..when brought to the attention of the wait staff (that I always find there and interested), new fries were immediately brought out...crisp and hot..If something isn't right, then do bring it to the attention of the waitstaff right away. Their kitchen is the size of a bathroom and I really think the product produced in that small space is great.

Anonymous said...

Bistro Italiano does deliver by the way. I love their white pizza.

diane said...

They do not deliver to the north side of H...I have asked...waaaa

Mamaliciousinthecity said...

I'm sorry to see Napa go, but only because the owner and staff were always so nice and attentive. Unfortunately, the food was mediocre at best. Nothing compared to Granville Moore's.
I strongly disagree that the economy or pricing at Napa had anything to do with its closure. I mean, could someone tell me what the heck the menu has to do with Napa? The hallmark of Northern California cuisine is its fresh ingredients. Nothing ever tasted fresh at Napa, although its possible any freshness was covered up by how overcooked everything was. Again, great owner and staff and adorable place, but the food was just not worth the walk around the corner.

Kiki said...

mama

1. Couldn't disagree more with your opinion.
2. Was it really necessary to post something so negative after the place has already closed? You don't think it is already upsetting enough to have to close down a dream?

Mamaliciousinthecity said...

Well, I'm sorry to be negative, but I don't think it makes sense to believe that it was the economy. I really would have liked to see Napa succeed - the place was adorable and the staff was great. With a better menu and improved execution, Napa surely could do well. They weren't that far off, but some serious tweaking of the menu and quality was required. Maybe some more interesting wines.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Gordon Ramsey could help?