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Russia House Faces an Uncertain Future After Sustaining Costly Damage

The business had planned to reopen soon after being closed for over two years

The interior of Russia House
Russia House’s dining room will remain dark for the foreseeable future.
Russia House/Facebook

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing war, at least one Russian-themed business in D.C. was targeted in protest.

Vandals targeted Russia House (1800 Connecticut Avenue, NW), Kalorama’s decades-old destination for caviar, vodka, and Eastern European standards like borscht and pierogis, on both February 25 and February 26, breaking windows, damaging a door, and scrawling what appeared to be anti-Russian rhetoric on the exterior walls of the historic building, according to WUSA9.

Owner Aaron McGovern believes the property damage may be related to anti-Russian sentiment following the attack on Ukraine. He stressed that the Russia House is a U.S.-owned company that “has nothing to do with Russia or the attack,” in an interview with the Washington Post. The vandalism is currently under investigation.

“Everything is in the police’s hands,” he told Eater on Tuesday afternoon, noting no additional vandalism has occurred. “We hope they catch these guys. It’s been classified as a hate crime.”

He says assailants smashed five large windows and knocked over a concrete wall, and he estimates repair costs at up to $20,000 or maybe more. Prior to being vandalized over the weekend, he says he was about three weeks away from reopening Russia House after a two-year hiatus during the pandemic. But now he has no idea.

“I am not opening with this current temperature,” McGovern tells Eater, saying he was targeted simply due to the name of his restaurant. “It’s sad — there are such short-sighted people out there. Our customer base [in D.C.] is built around immigration. Everyone is from somewhere.”

The Romanesque and Classical Revival townhouse that houses the Russian restaurant was built in 1906. Russia House opened in 1991 as a private club before becoming a restaurant and lounge, opening to the public in 2003.

Meanwhile, a Russia House in Austin, Texas (not related to the D.C. Russia House) changed its name to House over the weekend.

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