City Desk

A Diner/Tryst Yoga Comedy: Plans for 14th and T Revealed

(photograph by Pilar Vergara)

Hang on to your mats, gentrifiers. The much-anticipated revival at the former Church of the Rapture at 14th and T is getting closer and, this time, won't involve the laying-on of hands...unless that’s some new yoga move? Boundless Yoga is moving into 1840 14th St. NW, where it will share third-floor space with City Dance; the second floor will be a comedy dinner theater; and the ground floor is planned as a Diner/Tryst hybrid.

At least that’s the plan. Constantine Stavropoulos and Co. have to get by Dupont Circle’s ANC 2B first. Stavropoulos, owner of The Diner and Tryst in Adams Morgan and Open City in Woodley Park, is giving a presentation about plans at Wednesday’s meeting at the JCC, 16th and Q, around 8 p.m. Things could get sticky, we’ve heard.

The large space across from Café Saint Ex has been basically vacant since the church moved out a few years ago. We wrote about dashed condo dreams there at the cusp of the bust and, more recently, about artists kicked out because of the open elevator shaft.

That shaft will remain a defining feature of the building, which used to be a Model T assembly plant in the 1920s. (According to Stavropoulos, bumpers and lights were installed on the third floor, they’d paint cars on the second, and showcase them on the first, moving the parts with the giant elevator.)

The restaurateur and AU grad says unlike Open City (which is more Diner than Tryst), the new place will be a true blending of the coffeehouse/lounge/makeshift office that is Tryst and the 24-hour eggs-shakes-and-alcohol that is The Diner. They’ll be separate-but-not, he says, so Diner people can still be Diner people here and Tryst people can still grab a couch, but there will be opportunity for Diner/Trysts meet-cutes and whatnot. There’ll be a full bar, too, along with outdoor seating, pending liquor board and ANC approval.

So far, neighbors seem stoked, according to Stavropoulos. “Every single person I met, and I was out there all day Saturday, in some cases chasing after people as they were walking out of their homes, said ‘It’s about time,’” Stavropoulos says. One dropped what she was carrying "and hugged me." The owners of the respective businesses are working as a team and using the same contractor, although they may open at different times. Stavropoulos says he hopes to open his yet-unnamed venture in March or April of next year.

It’s a bit of a gamble for Stavropoulos and not exactly cheap—it’ll probably cost him $2 million or more by the end. “The landlord is putting up some allowances, but it is going to be quite a bit of an investment. I’m leveraging everything, the businesses, the house, the dog, the cat, everything… but we’re excited. We're hoping this will have a positive impact on the neighborhood.”

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  • IMGoph

    damn, this is good news. glad it's not going to be douche-y condos. i just hope they're able to get a decent amount of outdoor seating on both t and 14th.

  • loganmo


  • Spilly

    I can't wait!

  • Noah

    Totally kickin.

  • Motel

    I bet you can't, Spilly.

  • Scott

    Great idea with high quality business people at the helm. Go John X!!!!

  • Julie

    More comedy...YAY! Can't wait!!!! Great location!

  • Bologna

    Condos ARE lame. Finally - coffee, dinner, yoga, and comedy in one place. I never need to leave. Go Strvaksjpoloousloty. Crazy name. Great developer!

  • Rlb

    Come we need another pricey wannabe hip hangout where DoD contractors and assorted out-of-towers hang out to feel like they are in the city? Seriously...

  • Seriously

    Rlb, do you think an abandoned building with teenage mutant ninja turtles spray painted on it is any better? What do YOU suggest?

  • Bob

    Kids, don't get your hopes up. This comes under the Dupont Circle ANC 2B -- not Logan Circle ANC 2F. (A chunk of 2B runs over to 14th Street.) Remember that ANC 2B and their masters at the Dupont Circle Citizens Association have destroyed the 17th Street business corridor -- now they are turning their sites on 14th Street. Don't be surprised if the owner of The Diner says "enough" at some point in the next couple of months and pulls out. What doe those people want? Who knows. Cow pastures, I suppose. I hope this project happens, but I am trying not to get excited. My only options will remain $30 meals at Logan Tavern or nasty Chinese takeout.

  • bbbaby

    thank goodness for constantine and john x! we need some real good biz in the neighborhood. i've lived her for over 20 years! and i am excited!!

  • Lane

    Come on…do we need another pricey wannabe hip hangout where DoD contractors and assorted out-of-towers hang out to feel like they are in the city?

    Yes, we do. Currently there's nothing there (given that the community of squatter artists didn't pan out). If you want something truly hip, then you have to move to a neighborhood where the business rents are low. Meanwhile, on 14th Street, it would be idiotic to do something in a building that big unless it was going to attract people and make money. Bravo, developers!

    Unfortunately, Bob is right. The ANC there hates business. There's a good chance this is doomed.

  • Gwen

    The Dupont ANC should be embracing this with open arms. Clearly -- CLEARLY -- we want this, and a group of committed local businesspeople who care about the neighborhood are willing to invest considerable resources to create a vibrant new space. It would be idiotic to think that the abandoned ninja-turtle building is more of an asset to the neighborhood.

    And Lane has a point: With the rents so high, what else could the commission hope for? Something like the new Columbia Heights portion of 14th Street? This isn't big-box stores moving in and creating a little piece of suburbia on 14th -- this is local business at its best. Come on, Dupont ANC, don't stand in the way.

  • hanes

    ooh... my undies are too tight

  • C

    I had no idea that DoD contractors and out of towners made up the brunt of the Tryst clientele. I suppose you learn something new every day, though.

  • Neal

    Any more news? Would love to see this happen. Way better than condos.

  • John

    I agree with Gwen. What's up with the 2B ANC? I live in this neighborhood, and it's time for a change. Perhaps it's time to run against these tired old commissioners...election is in November!!

  • Dave

    ANC 2B Meets second wednesday of each month at the DC JCC.

    Go and make your voices heard.

  • Biff

    I'm resident and owner of a house on the 1300 block of T Street, a few houses down from Cafe St. Ex. While my neighbors and I are not keen on commercial businesses opening on our block, we're very excited about the redevelopment of the church (who were terrible neighbors to us). Constantine runs a good business and we'll definitely support him.

  • Doug A. Rogers

    I am running for ANC 2B 09 and fully support working with these businesses to ensure that they open at this location. I believe the Dupont ANC has been controlled by a vocal minority for too long and the vast majority of my neighbors want this project to go forward!! I pledge to build consensus between the majority of the neighbors and these local businesses.

  • Gerald

    This is a FANTASTIC idea for the community and for DC. I can't wait for this project to start and for CHANGE in the 2B ANC leadership. Keep up the good work John X and Constantine.

  • Cordelia

    Thanks for interesting article

  • Armadillo