The restaurant boom in recent years isn’t without its victims. With competition more fierce than ever, many businesses called it quits this year. Here are 10 we were sad to see go.
ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen
The Southeast Asian Chipotle spin-off had great potential when it first launched in Dupont Circle in 2011. If things had gone well, maybe people all over the country would be eating bowls of steak laab and chicken satay. Alas, the chain grew to just 15 locations (eight in DC) before Chipotle pulled the plug. Not even a @saveshophouse Twitter account could save it.
Straw Stick & Brick Delicatessen
Before Petworth was a hip dining destination with cocktail bars and one of the city’s best restaurants, couple Carolina and Jason Story gave the neighborhood an artisan edge with hand-crafted charcuterie and gourmet sandwiches. Carolina’s father owned the building, but after health issues, the family decided to sell the property and the business this summer. “I’m happy with what the business became,” Carolina says. “It’s just that it wasn’t what we thought we were going to grow old doing.”
This Mediterranean restaurant in Woodridge was the kind of neighborhood spot you’d love to have in your own neighborhood. The welcoming dining room was bright and airy, and the casual menu of croquetas and Basque seafood stew was a step above your typical round-the-corner watering hole. Fans can still head to Mola, a home-style Spanish spot in Mount Pleasant, from the same owners.
Pedro & Vinny’s
This burrito cart, a staple at 15th and K streets NW, was the very best sidewalk vendor in DC. For just $6, you could get an enormous tortilla overstuffed with carnitas, rice, and beans plus friendly banter from owner John Rider. But with competition from all the new food trucks and restaurants in recent years, sales had declined 70 percent, Rider told the Post in May. “It wasn’t just one dagger that killed me. It was one after another, after another,” he said.
This hip, healthy-ish Chinese spot in Shaw served dan dan noodles and mapo tofu on the cheap. Alas, it lasted only eight months. Owner John Fielding, who also runs Broad Branch Market, blamed the restaurant’s demise on costly build-out delays and construction across the street. But also: Donald Trump. “I don’t know if that’s a huge part of it, but I do feel like if Hillary had won, there would have been a little bit more excitement and jazz in the city,” he told us. “Everybody’s just been kind of stagnant.”
People used to line up before opening to snag a table at this Silver Spring dim-sum destination. But with renovations to the shopping center where it resided, Oriental East’s 27-year run came to a close in September. The management hinted that the Cantonese restaurant could still resurface “if the opportunity arises.” Fingers crossed.
Cleveland Park has had a rough few years with a slew of restaurant closures, including Nam-Viet, Dino, and Palena. But seven-year-old Ripple seemed, from the outside anyway, on the rise before it shuttered in June. After all, chef Ryan Ratino was a nominee for “rising culinary star” at this year’s RAMMY Awards, and the new American restaurant had just received a three-star review in the Post. Still, the accolades didn’t make it immune from competition in other buzzier neighborhoods and dragging sales. At least now you can now catch Ratino’s creative cooking at his own restaurant, Bresca, which just so happens to be in one of those buzzier neighborhoods.
Like a lot of restaurateurs, Pizzeria Paradiso owner Ruth Gresser was hoping to find success in the fast-casual game. At Veloce in downtown DC, she one-upped a lot of quick-grab pizza options with fresh doughs, organic tomato sauce, housemade sausages, and a custom oven. But dinner business was slow, competition was tough, and breakfast pizzas never quite caught on. The restaurant closed after two-and-a-half years this month.
This waterfront happy hour spot closed in October as part of the Wharf’s redevelopment. Granted, the laid-back destination for margaritas and fish tacos will return in the next few years with “a new pier, a new coat of paint, and thankfully new bathrooms.” But will it ever be the same? In the meantime, the owners are opening a scaled-down version of the restaurant called Cantina Bambina at the Wharf early next year.
The Shaw Bijou
Between its young-gun chef and pricey tasting menu, everyone had an opinion about the Shaw Bijou (often to its detriment). Still, whatever its faults, opening and closing within two and a half is truly tragic. At least chef Kwame Onwuachi hasn’t wasted time moving on to his next venture: Kith and Kin, an Afro-Caribbean restaurant at the Wharf.