Earlier this week, Policy Restaurant and Lounge announced in emails and on social media that it would close its doors after 10 years of business, giving revelers attracted to the nightlife on 14th Street NW one fewer place to dance the night away and fend off their hangovers with bottomless brunch drinks the next day.
In it’s farewell address, the venue acknowledged the evolution taking place in a now-desirable destination for restaurants. More often than not, throngs of people spill out into the street at night from outdoor patios at Le Diplomate, Barcelona, and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace.
A post on Policy’s Facebook page says, “We’ve seen the 14th street corridor transform into one of the most beloved neighborhoods in our Nation’s capital and are humbled to have been a small part of this evolution.”
The closing announcement, which lists its last day as Saturday, June 22, was the third of its kind over a stretch of about five blocks in the span of a week. Latin-Asian restaurant and lounge Masa 14, which for years has boasted lines out the door, announced it will end its own 10-year run by the end of August. Drafting Table, a low-key spot to grab an affordable beer or take in a soccer game, closed last weekend.
It remains to be seen what will become of Policy, but it’s already been reported that a New York-based wine bar will replace Drafting Table, and an Atlanta-based tapas brand is moving into Masa’s space.
Rapidly rising rents are playing a major role in the churn of change coming to the neighborhood. Real estate broker Tom Papadopoulos, whose company managed the switch at Masa 14, tells Washingtonian that in the past 10 years the rent price per square foot on 14th Street NW has gone from around $40 to the $75-$90 range. Washington City Paper reports hearing numbers as high as $120 per square foot.
According to Papadopoulos, only Chinatown and Penn Quarter properties command higher rents in D.C. The result is an influx of chains (Shake Shack, Barcelona, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams) and company’s that are used to paying premiums in New York City, like the Meatball Shop or the Vin Sur Vingt wine bar replacing Drafting Table.
Nothing better illustrates how the neighborhood’s success has cannibalized itself than what Vin Sur Vingt co-founder Sebastian Auvet told WCP about why he’s moving in.
“We went to D.C. a couple of times and saw there was always a waiting list at Le Diplomate and Barcelona Wine Bar,” he tells the paper. “We thought, ‘Oh wow! OK, it has nice energy.’”
Now, Vin Sur Vingt will land less than a block away from Le Diplomate.
It’s been a busy week for restaurant shutdowns, and not just between in the area between Logan Circle and U Street NW. Here’s a look at recent shutterings:
- Following a Popville report that its retail sales had been suspended, Penn Quarter sushi spot SEI announced on its website that it’s closing after more than 12 years of business.
- Fiona’s Irish Pub, an Alexandria watering hole that opened in 2014, suddenly closed earlier this week. ARLnow reports that a months-old Crystal City location of the bar closed last Sunday and has yet to reopen. Earlier this year, Eater D.C. named Fiona’s one of its essential Irish Pubs.
- ARLnow also reported that an Egyptian restaurant, King of Koshary, has been operating in the House of Mandi space since last month. The House of Mandi closure removes one of the cornerstone’s of Northern Virginia’s Yemeni food scene.
- Latin-Asian Restaurant Masa 14 Will End a 10-Year Run on 14th Street [EDC]
- Logan Circle Gastropub Drafting Table Will Close This Weekend [EDC]
- How Rising Restaurant Rents Have Transformed 14th Street Into a Destination for Chains [Washingtonian]
- Why Out-Of-Towners Picked D.C.’s 14th Street NW For Their Next Restaurants [WCP]