Friday, September 16, 2016

Where are They Now: Revisiting a WaPo Guide from a Decade Ago

Fritz Hahn from the Washington Post tweeted link to a Going Out Gurus guide to H Street that he wrote a decade ago, and what's striking when you read it is that most of the places that he mentions are now closed, or have relocated. Here's a look at all of those places in order of appearance:

Horace and Dickie's: (809 12th St.) This fried fish place is still going strong, and may well outlive us all.

Showbar Presents the Palace of Wonders: (1210 H St.) Palace of Wonders opened in June of 2006, delighting patrons with burlesque and sideshow acts. In 2010 it merged with its next door neighbor the Red & the Black (1212 H Street) to form Red Palace, which closed on New Year's Day of 2013. The space is now home to Vendetta.

The Red & the Black: (1212 H St.) New Orleans flavored bar and live music spot that opened in June of 2006, and later combined with Palace of Wonders to create Red Palace, which closed in 2013. The space is now occupied by Vendetta.

H Street Martini Lounge: (1236 H St.) A cocktail bar that opened in October of 2005, and closed in early 2010.

Atlas Performing Arts Center: (1333 H St.) The Atlas opened in 2006, and is today home to a wide variety of arts oriented programing.

Phish Tea: (1335 H St.) This Caribbean restaurant opened in the spring of 2004, and was an early pioneer in terms of sit-down restaurants along the H Street Corridor. It closed in 2006, and the space is now home to the H Street Country Club.

Rock & Roll Hotel: (1353 H St.) This live music venue recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, and is decidedly still rocking.

R&B Coffee 
R&B Coffee: (1359 H St.) R&B was short for Rhythm & Beans, and the coffee shop had a tiny recording studio tucked into an upstairs room. It opened in January of 2005, but closed its doors in 2006. Sova took over the space in 2007, but was itself later replaced by H Street Coffeehouse.

H Street Playhouse: (1365 H St.) This black box theater played an important role in the arts scene and redevelopment of H Street. It opened in 2002, and hosted an impressive line up of plays until its closing in 2013, when the theater moved across the river to become the Anacostia Playhouse.

The Majestic by Gwen: (1368 H St.) The Majestic was one of the older spots on H Street. It was a low-key spot serving Southern food, along with dancing and live jazz and blues music. I'm actually not entire sure when the Majestic closed, but it's been some time, and there was a period in which other projects seemed to operate out of the space.

Rose's Dream -Night 
Rose's Dream (Now Rose's DeJaVu): (Originally 1370 H St., now 1378 H St.) Rose's Dream started out as a small upstairs bar operated by the same family that ran the Caribbean carryout downstairs. It was always a friendly place that hosted go-go shows, and karaoke nights. They suffered a fire in 2009, but later reopened in a larger space down the street. The original Rose's Dream space is now home to Avery's.

The Ohio Restaurant: (1381 H St.) The Ohio was not exactly a new business when it drew a bit of attention for its food in 2006 after an Ethiopian-American family took over and shook the place up. The Ohio served some very tasty soul food, sometimes with a slight Ethiopian twist. A visit there was never dull, and it is likely the only restaurant I have ever frequently where the wine list consisted solely of Manischewitz. The jukebox was peerless, filled with a mix of artists like Sam 
Cooke, Bob Marley, and Billy Stewart. But the plates of meatloaf and the pig's foot platters were not to last. In late October of 2006 one of the owners, Betty Ayele, was shot to death in her car while stopped at a traffic light in Del Ray. Betty turned out to have a dark past, one that involved drug trafficking, and eventually testifying against the notorious Murder, Inc. group in D.C. They were a gang notorious for, among other things, knocking off witnesses, and brazen daytime executions. Her murder was never solved, and the Ohio closed down shortly after her death. 


The Argonaut: (1433 H St.) The first of the Joe Englert associated places to open on H Street, the Argo rolled out in the summer of 2005 as a tavern serving bar food and cheap pints. Over the years it evolved into a neighborhood staple that welcomed both the crowds that gathered for pub quiz and science night, and the tables filled with families with young children. In June of 2010 the Argo suffered a devastating fire, but the owners rebuilt, and the place seemed to operate with a renewed vigor.          

The Argonaut closed its doors, for possibly the last time, in late July of this year. The cause is said to be a dispute among owners. Its license is currently in safekeeping with ABRA.


Capitol X said...

R&B Coffee sounds like it could've fit in to the new landscape really well! Bummed I missed out on it by arriving in 2010. Also bummed that Sova is gone because H Street Coffeehouse is just so boring.

And Vendetta is a great space but long live the Red Palace.

Ann said...

Thanks for highlighting this!

curmudgeon said...

I still feel the loss of the H Street Playhouse more than anything on H.

Anonymous said...

so sad I missed the Phish tea house, it sounds awesome! When I'm watching the weather channel sometimes they play Phish and I get so excited. But a tea shop that only plays Phish! YES!

Anonymous said...

History is always interesting. But on the bright side we now have a Nandos, Starbucks and Whoole Foods(soon). If we can get a chipotle, pot belly or Vapiano it would be great. It's awesome to see the established places finally move into the neighborhood. Much thanks to the historic predecessors who made that possible!

Anonymous said...

Don't need Pot Belly or Vappy pizza, we already have better places than those. There are two Chips a streetcar ride away at Union Station. We need the quality start up places. Remember H Street started Taylors and &Pizza.

I miss the H Street Playhouse too. But they are doing nice work in Anacostia.

Anonymous said...

Who the heck is praising the opening of Starbucks when we have so many GREAT local coffee shops here? Why do we need another Chipotle when there are two in Union Station? Who needs Vapiano when there's one in the next neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

Having a bunch of not so great local companies does nothing for valuation of the neighborhood real estate. Having real companies with a track record replacing the said local businesses benefits all of the land owners and gives folks options they trust. We need established businesses in the neighborhood to continue its growth, the land mark tenants attract others so ultimately it's just a factor of time. Inefficient under capitalized businesses will then fail to be able to pay rent.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:58: Huh? Personally I don't give too much of a shit about "valuation of the neighborhood real estate," at least as an end in itself, since the only real impact of that for me is that I'd be paying a higher property tax. I care whether the neighborhood is a good neighborhood that I want to live in. If, as a result of having such a neighborhood, the property values go up, OK. But increasing property values by themselves seem a stupid goal, unless you don't plan on sticking around, in which case don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Personally, I'd rather have a local shop than some cookie-cutter chain that makes the neighborhood just like every other neighborhood everywhere else. I chose to live here because I *didn't* want to live in Reston or Gaithersburg. Perhaps you would be much happier there.

Anonymous said...

Stop hating each other. Some people don't like change, They want predictability an homogeneity instead of variety. I think a home that grows in value is a nice safety net in the event you get laid off or fall ill. I prefer not to have only the same 5 or 6 eating choices in every DC neighborhood, but a successful business drive out competition aka Starbuck$

pat said...

Vendetta has subsequently also closed.

I wish i had a chance to check out a few places, but, I moved here in late 2010, and took a while to learn the different joints.

inked said...

Vendetta has definitely NOT closed. They changed up the menu, but they are very much open and operating.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:58 is working on an old model that really dint work so well ever. Lots of dying malls out there based on that model.

poo poo said...

person scared to submit an alias 5:12 is partially correct. success of the whole "mall" thing (including strip malls) depends on a variety of factors, including transportation infrastructure, density, adjacent demographics, timing, etc. Tyson's is one example of a mall that isn't quite dead yet. in fact, it is experiencing something of a lazarus effect. not that i'm advocating for massive chains on H street, but that's really something that supply and demand (read: the will of the people) will dictate. we've already experienced a few chains moving in, and it hasn't yet adversely affected property values.

them's my two cents.

Anonymous said...

The H Street Coffeehouse is also closed. It didn't last long.

inked said...

It is indeed closed. I'll be interested to see what takes over th space.

Mari said...

Great retrospective. It is good to remember the amenities or the 3rd spaces that helped make H Street what it is today.
I really liked seeing the dates of how long some businesses managed to stick around. The restaurant business is hard and when I saw the dates of some I was thinking, how much did the owner sink into that? Phish Tea was open for like 2 years? Think of the set up costs, labor, supplies, etc, was that money recouped in those 2 years?
Small businesses, who take a chance on neighborhoods that are not a sure thing, help make a place by providing some other place to go, and making the neighborhood walkable and signal to those corporate businesses like the Starbucks and the Whole Foods that follow. I do not long for the bad old days of when your neighborhood retail choices were ratty liquor stores selling wino vodka and greasy take outs selling grease meat masquerading as food.
I'm going on a tangent....

Anonymous said...

Down on the West End, don't forget the pre-Big Board spot (can't remember its name) and it's earlier incarnation as a bookstore that was in the space before that (circa 2005-2006).

More recently down West, the New Orleans place that predated Driftwood, the great little flower shop that was open at 5th & H before Micho's, the recently-closed mid-century antique store on the 500s block, the Jamaican patty place at the corner of 6th and H, 6th & H Sports Bar, Atlas Room, and the big open-air art space that was replaced by the Giant/360 complex...ahhh, memories!

Anonymous said...

Big performing arts spaces and huge fried fish sandwiches will endure

Anonymous said...

I miss French's Southern Cuisine.