City Desk

Dos Gringos’ Business Is Down 20 Percent

So the Post reports in the latest Paul Schwartzman development piece. Is anyone else surprised that the coffee shop has survived this long? I never see anyone in the shop during the week. Only on the weekend is it packed with customers either waiting in line for bad coffee or sitting at tables waiting for kinda gross food.

I'm not sure this has anything to do with Schwartzman's premise that Mount Pleasant is suffering a downturn because the neighborhood is a) too close to the Columbia Heights big boxes; b) filled with rabid NIMBYs; c) saddled with recovering from that massive apartment fire d) filled with opposing views of residents who either want a Red Derby or a McDonald's.

Mount P certainly has suffered. It has become way more known for fighting over music than having cool places to eat or shop. The best hangout is still the Raven (which is totally fine) and Heller's and Haydee's.There are very few reasons for residents outside of the neighborhood to come visit and spend their money.

In fact, there are very few reasons for Mount P residents to shop on the main drag. There is no doubt that the Target and the shops/restaurants around the Target are drawing residents from Mount P. I see that every weekend. It's this great migration across 16th.

So what do you think needs to happen in Mount Pleasant?

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  • Jamie

    I more or less agree. I lived in Mt. P for 10 years and main street barely changed and always sucked in that time. The wealthier residents there, an odd breed of overprivileged ex-hippies, have this strange vision of Mt. Pleasant Street. They want Mt. Pleasant Street filled with funky, non-corporate shops like bookstores and ice cream shoppes and yoga studios that nobody would actually ever shop at, while resisting any place that could sell alcohol, have entertainment, or otherwise be fun and profitable.

    All the while, the same folks are going to Adams Morgan, that place they don't want Mt. Pleasant to become, to get drunk at night and buy coffee at Starbucks in the morning.

    Never mind DCUSA. Mt. Pleasant just need look at 11th Street in Columbia Heights. There is Wonderland, Red Rocks, CoHi coffee, Rinconcito Deportivo, that new weird gallery, a laundromat, a hairdresser, Arthur's convenience store, and a couple other places. Upcoming is a wine and cheese bar and another bar/restaurant, Meridian Pint.

    Basically, it is a damn fine little neighborhood strip and all the shops do well. Why? Because unlike their Mt. Pleasant bizarro twins (Tonic, Radius, Dos Gringos, Marx Cafe) they don't suck. Red Rocks and Wonderland are both popular enough that they can draw people from outside the neighborhood, while still being neighborhood hangouts. CoHi Coffee makes awesome brew, if a tad slowly sometime, and is a cozy spot to hang.

    Sorry - but nobody ever went out of their way to have dinner at Tonic or Marx Cafe. It really comes down to that. A neighborhood joint may be able to survive because it's the only place that neighbors can walk to- but if you want to generate some foot traffic, to make it THRIVE and not survive, you need something that's better than just "good enough."

  •,_Washington,_DC MtPleasantStreet

    A) Banish the NIMBYs whose desire to "protect" Mt. Pleasant from change is an insult and a detriment to everyone who lives here.

    B) Bring in a consumer magnet. A unique restaurant that seats a hundred or, heaven forbid, a club that plays... ...NO.... NO ...NO!!!!!!..... live music.

  • sara.h

    I agree that Tonic, Radius, Dos Gringos and Marx Cafe suck. I used to like Tonic. Their burgers were decent and the tater tots were fun. Last time I went, after they completely changed both the menu and the decor, it was awful. The burger was terrible (i only ate half of it because it was just gross) and the tater tots tasted like they forgot to cook them after they came out of the freezer from Costco. There are good places to get food on Mt. P (adam express, for one), but the places mentioned by Jamie are just bad.

    it would be great if Mt. P had one place that was on par with Busboys & Poets in terms of price, quality and variety.

  • Stating the Obvious

    I don't know about the rest of MTP, but I'd go to Dos Gringos more if the inside wasn't a jungle gym full of Yipsters and their children and the system of ordering wasn't such a clusterfuck.

  • fan.notes

    I agree with Jamie. Just look at 11th Street. It seems like 11th Street studied Mount Pleasant and figured out how to do things right.

  • Jamie

    What's I think makes 11th St such a good role model is that it's TINY. It's all in two blocks, 1/4 the length of Mt. Pleasant Main.

    Yet it's businesses are all distinct and each fills a niche, and does it well.

    And Wonderland, love it or hate it, is the cornerstone, insuring a steady stream of people from within and without the neighborhood. This creates a fertile environment for other night spots to succeed, and improves safety dramatically because of all the foot traffic they generate.

  • MSP

    I'd settle for a single, decent non-fast-food restaurant, grocery store, or bar along MtP Ave. Dos Gringos seems straight out of a Warsaw Pact country. Tonic is a clubhouse for wannabe yipsters and Marx seems content to drive people away with their God-awful, high-volume Euro-dance-party music (at least on weekends when I tend to go out). To shop for meat or produce along MtP is to take your life in your hands. Not holding my breath, though. Any neighborhood that lacks the foresight to prevent an absolute glut of laundromats, dollar stores, and bodegas is beyond hope.

  • Jeff

    It's simple, to echo what others are saying -- quality. If you could get a great, NY quality piece of pizza by the slice, an awesome pastrami sandwich, an amazing loaf of bread, etc., I'd be there all the time. I used to go to Dos Gringos, but why go to a place where the owner acts like I'm lucky to be so blessed as to eat there? Why eat mediocre food with my hard earned money when I could make better myself? The real question is, why does D.C. have such a hard time attracting quality retailers -- the kind who not only survived but thrive all over NYC and even cities like Chicago and Boston -- stores that take pride in their appearance, serve quality food and beverages at fair prices, that sort of thing? I feel like what is happening now is a long overdue correction of retailers who became accustomed to no competition requiring them to provide good products suffering ... it is just flabbergasting to me how difficult it is to get a decent sandwich, a decent chinese meal, a decent bagel for god's sake, in this town ...