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Dining in Cleveland Park


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Yes, the service lane... perhaps the only thing more controversial in Cleveland Park right now are leaf blowers. But all was neighborly Friday night around 8:30 at a bustling Dino. After a week of multi-city travel, I was in the mood for a really good meal and a cocktail. We tried some new menu items- Tuscan ratatouille, chanterelle pasta, and asian pears and pork belly along. Loved the homemade shrub cocktails- particularly the strawberry balsamic. Yum. As always. Thank you.

Did you park in the service lane? <_<

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 No, we did the only thing worse. We leveraged our Zone 3 parking privileges. Instead of walking the short 1 mile to the restaurant we drove and parked along Newark street. 

Shall we start another new thread on the bizarrely ill-designed Resident Permit Parking program?

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Shall we start another new thread on the bizarrely ill-designed Resident Permit Parking program?

I got *screwed* on the north side on the 1200 block of W Street because of a faded "residents-only" sign blocked by overgrown trees, a good 30-40 feet in front of the car. There were three things going against me seeing the sign, and the south side of the street was plain old 2-hour parking (make that four) - I naturally assumed it would be the same thing on the north. Very poorly marked, and $25 in DC's coffers - no way I was going to win that appeal. When I walked out and saw a ticket on my car, I had *no* idea what it could have been for.

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I got *screwed* on the north side on the 1200 block of W Street because of a faded "residents-only" sign blocked by overgrown trees, a good 30-40 feet in front of the car. There were three things going against me seeing the sign, and the south side of the street was plain old 2-hour parking (make that four) - I naturally assumed it would be the same thing on the north. Very poorly marked, and $25 in DC's coffers - no way I was going to win that appeal. When I walked out and saw a ticket on my car, I had *no* idea what it could have been for.

As a residents-only sign would have been installed only within the last year, since the "enhanced" RPP went into effect in Ward 1, I find it hard to believe that such a sign would be significantly faded. At any event, I'm always glad when we can get the suburbanites to pay something for the city services they use, since we can't impose the sort of commuter tax that every other city in the United States can charge.

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As a residents-only sign would have been installed only within the last year, since the "enhanced" RPP went into effect in Ward 1, I find it hard to believe that such a sign would be significantly faded. At any event, I'm always glad when we can get the suburbanites to pay something for the city services they use, since we can't impose the sort of commuter tax that every other city in the United States can charge.

I suppose you mean like the $10-15 in sales tax I paid to the DC Treasury that night while dining at Izakaya Seki?

Or the $20-25 tip I left to the server who lives in DC, who paid taxes on their wages?

Or the $90-110 bill I paid to the restaurant itself, which paid taxes on their income?

Stuff like that, right?

Funny thing is, I can't even remember which bill it is (though I think it was the one for $138.40), so you can just go ahead and multiply the above figures by 10, and that's how much I've left in DC's coffers *just at this one restaurant* in the past year.

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Okay, okay, uncle! You're obviously the wrong guy to pick on in this context, Don. I do grow weary, though, of people from the suburbs parking their cars illegally in the city and then complaining about the perfectly righteous tickets they get.

This is why I love you, Herschel. :)

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The above thread is great , but obviously mistitled as "parking in cleveland park"  or "parking in DC" or "how to vacuum up suburbanites money" or "getting ticketed in DC" might be more appropriate.  ;)

but a full thread on the culinary delights in Cleveland Park would be interesting, informative, inviting and fun.

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ever get the gyros at Byblos unless you want chemicals off the food service truck.  But the chicken is real for their souvlaki.  Their falafel is home made, and the Kofta and Kibbe are pretty good.  The daily specials are made with love.  And the grizzled pirate looking guy is Marco.  He called me Dan for 5 years before he finally remembered my name was Dean.  I would have rather changed my name than correct him!

I will miss Marco very much when I am in Shaw.

 

For my money, Fresh Med, right across the street, blows Byblos right out of the water.

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Has there been any consensus on why Cleveland Park tanked? Is it the younger demographic of Washington, DC? This place has always seemed to be a nearly perfect neighborhood, with the Uptown Theater (yes, I know, movie theaters are dying, but still), plenty of on- and off-street parking, a Metro stop, and lots of retail within walking distance of a considerable number of residential dwellings. I understand that 14th Street (and now Shaw) got "hot," but there comes a point when enough is too much. Cleveland Park is a great neighborhood. Are the shopping centers controlled by a oligopoly of feudal pricks? I can comprehend the growth eastward in DC (it had nowhere to go westward), but I've never quite gotten a grasp on the demise of Cleveland Park. I'll tell you this much though: I'll bet it's going to be very temporary.

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is that a hint?

Ripple, Ardeo Bardeo, Weygandt's, Indique, Vace, Fat Pete's (at least Tim Carmen rates), Cleveland Park Liquor (solid beer/wine selection). St. Arnold's is solid, as is Spices. Don't forget Atomic Billiards. At least 4 places have live music. And cross the bridge for one of DC's best dive bars - Zoo Bar. There's plenty of life in CP.

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Has there been any consensus on why Cleveland Park tanked? Is it the younger demographic of Washington, DC? This place has always seemed to be a nearly perfect neighborhood, with the Uptown Theater (yes, I know,

There has been a huge amount of discussion and argument on this issue on the CP listserv over the last several years.  A significant minority of contributors believe that a key factor is the 25% restaurant overlay cap, which limits the number of restaurants and bars, and the general reluctance of the neighborhood (via ANC & local citizen association input into key decisions such as the cap and maintenance of the service lane) to entertain changes in urban planning and regulation.  The DC neighborhoods that have experienced the greatest growth over the last few years have taken a more moderate or circumspect view of caps and voluntary/settlement agreements with ABRA (re hours, live music, etc.), and a generally more embracing view of growth and change via their local ANCs and citizen associations.  Unless and until the majority of the participants in the neighborhood governance process adopt these kind of views, CP is likely to continue to lag in its growth and evolution.

Dave

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The rents are wayyy high in CP. I know that's why Dino moved. At some point you have to think the landlords are shooting themselves in their feet. 

Yeah, Dean moved to a place in Shaw (theoretically, a hot neighborhood) with more square footage and better utilities, for a lot less money.

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The rents are wayyy high in CP. I know that's why Dino moved. At some point you have to think the landlords are shooting themselves in their feet. 

It's not only Cleveland Park.  There's really a shocking dearth of good restaurants on *all* of Connecticut Avenue, from K St. to Chevy Chase Circle, and on most of Wisconsin north of Georgetown (save 2 Amys), even though there's tons of expendable income nearby.  It's partly the high rents, of course -- but I imagine the rents downtown aren't much different.  What's *not* there along Connecticut and Wisconsin are many young and hip residents, of the sort who teem around 14th Street, Brookland, H St. NE, etc.

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is that a hint?

Ripple, Ardeo Bardeo, Weygandt's, Indique, Vace, Fat Pete's (at least Tim Carmen rates), Cleveland Park Liquor (solid beer/wine selection). St. Arnold's is solid, as is Spices. Don't forget Atomic Billiards. At least 4 places have live music. And cross the bridge for one of DC's best dive bars - Zoo Bar. There's plenty of life in CP.

I love Ripple. Was there recently, which reminds me, I really need to post about it.

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Guesses?

Screenshot 2016-07-31 at 12.24.32.png

Pro tip: If you want the early word about things, there are numerous websites to scope on the internet - it would not be difficult to figure out the majority of these: Screenshot 2016-07-31 at 12.28.46.png Note also that there are 78 restaurants for sale just on this one website.

Many people think the post-recession restaurant boom is continuing apace, but all you need to do is analyze cheezepowder's work, and you'll see data to the contrary.

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13 hours ago, Rovers2000 said:

I think this listing might be Sorriso based on the gas and wood cooking hood comment.  Though the 8 year statement throws me off.   If so its another sad loss. 

Business listings have been around for decades.  I used them in the 1980's and depending on what you were looking for there were plenty of businesses listed, including lots and lots of restaurants.  They had been around for a long long time before that.   I'd speak to the restaurant operators to see if they use them. 

Are there more restaurants listed now than in the past?  I wouldn't know.  But there were a lot then and there are a lot now.

One thing about them, from the restaurant side is that the cost of buying may easily negate the cost of building out from scratch.  Hoods are expensive.  A hood for a retail space in a one story shopping center isn't all that bad.  A hood in a multi story building can be prohibitive--if not provided for by the building owner.  You're speaking a cost that is dependent on linear feet.  If you have to go 40-50 feet or more...versus up 10 feet...that is an additional 10's of thousands of dollars.  Buy the restaurant and buy the existing furniture, fixtures, etc.  That is thousands of dollars in savings.  Are the deals worthwhile or not???  Oh man:  You have to speak to the operators.  Those that open multiple restaurants might have a different twist on this than those that open one.

Is that listing Sorriso?   Feels like it to me also...but there are a number of restaurants in that area that might fit that bill and the info in these listings is not always accurate.   They should be...but they just always aren't.

 

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On 7/31/2016 at 0:25 PM, DonRocks said:

Guesses?

Screenshot 2016-07-31 at 12.24.32.png

Pro tip: If you want the early word about things, there are numerous websites to scope on the internet - it would not be difficult to figure out the majority of these: Screenshot 2016-07-31 at 12.28.46.png Note also that there are 78 restaurants for sale just on this one website.

Many people think the post-recession restaurant boom is continuing apace, but all you need to do is analyze cheezepowder's work, and you'll see data to the contrary.

 

On 8/1/2016 at 6:30 AM, Rovers2000 said:

I think this listing might be Sorriso based on the gas and wood cooking hood comment.  Though the 8 year statement throws me off.   If so its another sad loss. 

 

On 8/1/2016 at 7:04 PM, DaveO said:

Business listings have been around for decades.  I used them in the 1980's and depending on what you were looking for there were plenty of businesses listed, including lots and lots of restaurants.  They had been around for a long long time before that.   I'd speak to the restaurant operators to see if they use them. 

Are there more restaurants listed now than in the past?  I wouldn't know.  But there were a lot then and there are a lot now.

One thing about them, from the restaurant side is that the cost of buying may easily negate the cost of building out from scratch.  Hoods are expensive.  A hood for a retail space in a one story shopping center isn't all that bad.  A hood in a multi story building can be prohibitive--if not provided for by the building owner.  You're speaking a cost that is dependent on linear feet.  If you have to go 40-50 feet or more...versus up 10 feet...that is an additional 10's of thousands of dollars.  Buy the restaurant and buy the existing furniture, fixtures, etc.  That is thousands of dollars in savings.  Are the deals worthwhile or not???  Oh man:  You have to speak to the operators.  Those that open multiple restaurants might have a different twist on this than those that open one.

Is that listing Sorriso?   Feels like it to me also...but there are a number of restaurants in that area that might fit that bill and the info in these listings is not always accurate.   They should be...but they just always aren't.

PoPville post - Sorriso closed on Oct. 30 after 13 + years.

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17 minutes ago, marketfan said:

Such a shame.  I am going tonight. Any insights into why Ripple had to close?  Is there a problem with the Cleveland Park location for restaurants?  And if so, why?  It is close to a metro,

13 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

It said it in the email:

"But, unfortunately, our reviews and recent acclaim have not translated to the bottom line."

My meal (above) was disturbingly "not very good," but everyone else seemed to really enjoy it, so I assumed I went on an off-evening (but to be honest, I haven't even thought of returning).

I was not clear.  I meant: do good restaurants have a problem attracting enough clients in Cleveland Park?  Or perhaps, it is inconsistent? Don, you had an off dinner but the other reviews have been excellent and I have always enjoyed my dinners there in the past but have not been since Ryan took over the ktichen.

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Just now, marketfan said:

I was not clear.  I meant: do good restaurants have a problem attracting enough clients in Cleveland Park?  Or perhaps, it is inconsistent? Don, you had an off dinner but the other reviews have been excellent and I have always enjoyed my dinners there in the past but have not been since Ryan took over the ktichen.

Well, it may be stating the obvious, but DC's demographic has gotten younger and shifted east. I think Cleveland Park will make a comeback (how can it not?) - the question is when. 

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16 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Well, it may be stating the obvious, but DC's demographic has gotten younger and shifted east. I think Cleveland Park will make a comeback (how can it not?) - the question is when. 

That was my first thought but Bindaas is doing well, isn't it? , I think that Sfoglina is doing well further up Conn Avenue in a resto desertthere as well.  So, I would be interested in understanding more about what to takes to do well in Cleveland Park.  A lot of people come into the neighborhood to see a film.  Why didn't they go to Ripple for a glass and wine and something afterwards or before?  We used to go to Palena often afterwards for a light meal and a glass of wine .

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Ripple always did well on the weekends.  Walk past on a Friday and Saturday night and the dining rooms would be full, good looking bar scene.  However, we were there this past Wednesday for happy hour and it was pretty slow. When we left at 8:30 much of the bar area was empty.  I even thought to myself, eesh this doesn't look good.

Ripple is (was) an expensive restaurant, entrees run in the mid $20s to $30+ range.  Thats downtown prices in what is a fairly quiet neighborhood.

other than opening weekends the Uptown does really attract much of a crowd.  They now rotate thru movies every couple of weeks to keep things fresh.  The only recent movies to last more than 2 or 3 weeks are the new Star Wars movies.

bindass does well, but its a small space.  Medium Rare is always busy, even on week nights.  Vace does good business.  Duke's seems to do well as does Cleveland Park Bar & Grill and Nanny's (both bars with lots of TVs).

The restaurant I'm worried about next is Spices, it's almost always half empty, although they seem to do robust take-out.  

Also I'm not sure who along that strip owns their space vs rents.

Finally they need to get rid of the stupid access road on the east side of Conn Ave.  Open that up to be more pedistrian friendly, sidewalk seating etc. make it more attractive.  But there is great resistance from the business owners and residents.  You want to start a pissing match on the Cleveland Park listserve, bring up the access road!

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39 minutes ago, marketfan said:

That was my first thought but Bindaas is doing well, isn't it? , I think that Sfoglina is doing well further up Conn Avenue in a resto desertthere as well.  So, I would be interested in understanding more about what to takes to do well in Cleveland Park.  A lot of people come into the neighborhood to see a film.  Why didn't they go to Ripple for a glass and wine and something afterwards or before?  We used to go to Palena often afterwards for a light meal and a glass of wine .

I don't see Bindass doing any better than Indique in the long-term, and Tweaked is right: Bindass is a small space (and Ardeo has always been pretty empty - note also that Ashok owns that building, I believe). Both Bindass and Sfoglina are novel, and I'm curious to see where they'll be in a year. Sfoglina is in a wealthy area with a dearth of good restaurants, and a lot will depend on how much people are willing to spend (don't forget, Aggio and Rock Creek failed) - I was shocked at how expensive Sfoglina was for what was on the plate (and in the glass). It has excellent pasta, and for now they have a near-monopoly with a semi-captive audience (there isn't much within five miles for an older clientele).

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I lived in that area for almost a decade, but long ago.  So many great attributes.  I also used to lease commercial space, retail space.  There are always "mysteries" and different dynamics.  I suspect the changing demographics of the city and the explosion of popular neighborhoods with people and restaurants galore is a significant element.  If you roam 14th street --lots of people;  similarly other neighborhoods draw diners

I like Mark Furstenburgs effort to address the issue:  https://remarkablebreads.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/cleveland-park-woes/

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The other item that I'd throw into the mix is that wine prices are a decent barometer of what's going to do well there.  Ripple's wine list had a few reasonably priced wines, but by and large it skewed quite expensive.  You're just not going to get late 20-early 30s charging that kind of freight except for special occasions.  And I say that as a big fan of the restaurant.  Really sorry to see Ripple go, but it was firmly in the 1-2X a year category, partly because of the wine.

The shifting neighborhood demographics are undeniably an issue as well, but Ripple is a block from the red line.  With good food (that box was checked based on my meals there) and a more modestly priced wine list, I do think they could have done better.  

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2 hours ago, Tweaked said:

 However, we were there this past Wednesday for happy hour and it was pretty slow. When we left at 8:30 much of the bar area was empty.  I even thought to myself, eesh this doesn't look good.

Say hi next time. ?

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It's just sad. Lots of good to great restaurants have left Cleveland Park. People that spend money at restaurants just are not going there, which suggests those folks that WOULD spend money, regularly, at a place like Ripple, well, they just do not live anywhere near Cleveland Park.

The only constant is change. For restaurants, you have to go where the people are, most times.

I'll miss Ripple and I really wish I could get back there before they close.

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Other restaurants that have closed in CP in the past few years have indicated that lack of parking, lack of foot traffic, and significant increases in rent have chased them out.

I live in Arlington but regularly used to visit Lavandou because we liked it there despite the parking issues.  Unfortunately, there is no longer a restaurant in Cleveland Park that compels me to overcome the drive and parking right now.  Admittedly, I haven't tried many new CP restaurants there but don't feel the need to.

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18 hours ago, DanielK said:

Other restaurants that have closed in CP in the past few years have indicated that lack of parking, lack of foot traffic, and significant increases in rent have chased them out.

Cleveland Park is a very desirable place to live, and I wonder if retail owners have assumed that this also makes it a desirable place to run a business (so, they may have overestimated the business rent-value, and places are saying "Screw it" and leaving). I don't actually know this, but it's a plausible theory. If there's high vacancy, then rents will drop, and the businesses will come back - of course it's a matter of "which" businesses.

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1 hour ago, Gadarene said:

There's virtually no foot traffic up there.  A shame for the restaurant.  :-(

What I don't get is, if Cleveland Park has no foot traffic, how do places like California Tortilla survive? It seems to me that Fast-Casual restaurants would need foot traffic (or easy parking) to survive - Cleveland Park has neither. I can't remember if Sam's Parking Lot gives a free hour - if so, that might explain it (although I think Yogiberry closed there).

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31 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

What I don't get is, if Cleveland Park has no foot traffic, how do places like California Tortilla survive? It seems to me that Fast-Casual restaurants would need foot traffic (or easy parking) to survive - Cleveland Park has neither. I can't remember if Sam's Parking Lot gives a free hour - if so, that might explain it (although I think Yogiberry closed there).

Maybe it's easier for franchises.

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Both (the great) Weygandt's and (the handy) Parcel Post place will validate parking, so I'm assuming other businesses in Sam's do as well.

But Sam's, ugh, another waste of space.  That place needs to be knocked down and redeveloped too.  Although I'm sure the historic preservation people would have a fit.

Also Don, a 7-11 in Van Ness only survived about 2 or 3 years.  So fingers crossed.

Yogiberry has closed, soon to be a day spa/waxing salon type place.  And the olive oil selling Secolari (sp?) has also closed.

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I worked near UDC for over 20 years and I think California Tortilla and fast casual places get a lot of lunch business from office workers like myself.  I only went to California Tortilla once, but did spend a lot of money at Nam Viet, Spices, Alero's, and Vace's over the years when I didn't feel like eating in our cafeteria.  I guess Nam Viet, Alero's, and Spices aren't really fast casual but they were quick and not that expensive.

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I think it's because that neighborhood is mostly families and older people.  Families don't go to Ripple.  If the young people who live in CP are out on a date they go to U St or H St.  The neighborhood has continually failed to support great higher-end restaurants like Palena, Dino, Ripple, etc.  The family-friendly restaurants, from Dolan Uyghur to Bread Furst to Alero, are doing great, as noted above.  I think a family-friendly pub-style restaurant like Meridian Pint would do great and there isn't really one right now in CP, Van Ness, or Tenleytown.

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On 6/11/2017 at 3:10 AM, Tweaked said:

But Sam's, ugh, another waste of space.  That place needs to be knocked down and redeveloped too.  Although I'm sure the historic preservation people would have a fit.

They tried to knock down Sam's some years back but, as you suspected, the preservation people had a fit.  It's apparently one of the oldest strip malls in the country.  Personally, I don't think that they cared one whit about the historic value. but they found that to be a convenient issue of which to hang their knee-jerk anti-development instincts.  

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Being a techno math monkey geek, I looked at the demographic report (undated) for Cleveland Park Sam's Shopping Center and then compared it to some other demographic reports for some other retail properties in the city.   Its simply not that great.  The Cleveland Park analysis uses a 1 mile radius for residential and walk around day traffic.  The others I looked at used half mile radii.  A 1 mile radius is 4 times as large.  Relative to other sites its simply not that great. 

And then....

As Mark Furstenberg noted:

1.  Realistically the East Side of Cleveland Park has no residential population.  It backs into Rock Creek Park.  That cuts the potential residential population by a lot.  (hence the close by demographics are thinner than other locations)

2.  For people on the West Side of Connecticut Avenue and Cleveland Park the new retail project at Wisconsin Avenue is a draw.  (Cathedral Commons). Its competition for a retail draw, that doesn't have the largest closest population to start with.

3. I'd also add that there are virtually no hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity.  That makes a significant difference.  The larger the hotel and the more connected to conventions and meetings the likelier those visitors will go to fancier, name, more expensive restaurants; often close by.  Anecdotally I leased the first DC Ruth's Chris at Connecticut and S in the early 1980's.  After the deal was done I asked why they chose the location.  I mean REALLY--why that location??   Among a variety of reasons it was near the Washington Hilton. (there were other reasons also).  I guess that still works.  The Ruths Chris is still there and its been over 30 years.  Also that property sold to a heavy weight real estate company for big bucks a long time ago.  Plenty of opportunity for that rent to be increased by big beaucoup bucks.  Its still there though.  Meanwhile there are a lot of restaurants near the Marriott at Wardman Park.  Not necessarily all great...but a lot more restaurant space then the nearby residential community might support on its own.

And then there are many other reasons.  Interesting that more moderately priced restaurants survive and thrive and the one's that are a cut or two or three above have had difficulties.  That is telling.   Aside from the demographics it is simply difficult to compete all the time.  It always is.  

Meanwhile I liked the comment about the beef hue at Nam Viet.  I think I'll go over to Nam Viet in Clarendon and give it a shot.  :D

 

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1 hour ago, DaveO said:

Realistically the East Side of Cleveland Park has no residential population.  It backs into Rock Creek Park.  That cuts the potential residential population by a lot.  (hence the close by demographics are thinner than other locations)

Not just RC Park, but the Zoo.

Also there's a huge hill for the 1/4 mile as you go east from Cleveland Park. So after the first 3 blocks, it's an easier walk to go the longer distance to Mt. Pleasant/Columbia Heights than up that crazy steep hill.

Don't laugh too much - my fiancee lived in Mt. Pleasant while we were dating, and even though we're in pretty good shape, I can't tell you the number of times that hill made us decide to walk to 14th St/U St instead of up Porter.

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