Charles Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." The past few months have brought much change to the Glover Park business scene on Wisconsin Avenue. One might view the changes below as positive or negative, though Lao Tzu’s advice on change was, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them—that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Here’s how the times they are a’changing recently across multiple industries in Glover Park:
The Theodore’s furniture store at 2233 Wisconsin Ave has been in business since 1969, started by Theodore Kanter. Business operation was handed down recently to his daughter Janice Kanter, who had helped run the store with her father for many years. This summer, Janice sold Theodore’s to the Cantoni Group - a national furnishing and design company based in Dallas, TX with showrooms in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and now Washington DC. They are keeping the history alive with the co-branded name, “Theodores by Cantoni”. Cantoni was founded by South African Michael Wilkov in 1984 after inspiration from a trip to Italy. Wilkov prefers to hire design consultants rather than salespeople, and his three DC designers are J.R. Hodder, Laurie Oliver and Marian Kerolos.
In Bocca al Lupo
The Italian restaurant In Bocca al Lupo at 2400 Wisconsin Ave was a great addition to the neighborhood about 1.5 years ago, with regular live music, excellent Roman pizza and an excitement that had been missing from the main drag for a while. Alas, the fat lady has sung once again - the economics just did not work for the pizza restaurant and they closed a few days ago. Business is tough for restaurants in DC, with high rents, food cost inflation and a limited pool of hourly wage employees. Bocca followed Arcuri, Kavanagh’s and Faccia Luna in vacating the space as pizza - other than largely delivery operations - has become a challenging endeavor. They just couldn’t fill enough seats to turn a sufficient profit – a common theme among Glover Park restaurant ventures in recent years. Owners Carolyn and Massimo Papetti still have their I’m Eddie Cano restaurant up in Chevy Chase across from Politics and Prose.
New York Sports Club
Washington Sports at 2251 Wisconsin Avenue has been a popular and convenient workout place for neighbors for decades. Washington Sports re-branded all its locations as “New York Sports” this summer and then promptly announced the closure of the Glover Park location. New York Sports has two other DC locations – downtown and in Columbia Heights - and they are offering existing members a transfer membership to local Gold’s Gyms as well. 2251 Wisconsin now is 100% vacant, as Rite Aid vacated the level below 5 years ago and their space has been empty ever since.
Pearson’s Wine & Spirits
Four years ago, Pearson’s (which has been in business for 90 years) was sold to Clearview Partners, a real estate investment group that owns and operates a number of liquor stores in the area. In the spring of 2022 they began marketing the real estate for sale for $4.5 million, down to $4.3 million over time, while asking for a lease-back to continue to run the business. In September of 2023, businesspeople Gurleen Singh Chatha and Amarpreet Kaur Mann (assume husband and wife but their relationship is unconfirmed) signed and recorded an option to buy the property as well as the liquor business. The option term, price, and conditions are undisclosed, though the exercise of it is not yet recorded. Gurleen appears to have experience managing a restaurant and a liquor store in Virginia and Maryland. Gurleen has not yet responded to requests for information.
Sunoco becomes Amoco
The Sunoco gas station occupying the triangle of land at the north end of Glover Park at Calvert Street was sold to British Petroleum (BP) earlier in 2023. In 2010 BP was responsible for the largest marine oil spill in history, which happened in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in massive protests against the company and its retail stations. In 2017 BP began bringing back its Amoco branding to gas stations – coincidence? Maybe they should have done it years sooner. In any case, the Amoco-branded BP-owned station now operates at 2450 Wisconsin Avenue. The unfortunate employees there have been the target of at least two violent robberies (one with a hammer) amid this DC-wide crime wave. Their prices seem better than Sunoco; maybe it’s my imagination or maybe it’s just this deflation in energy recently…
As reported previously, Sherwin Williams the paint store is taking the space formerly occupied by Laliguras, a Nepali restaurant at the Calvert Center at 2332 Wisconsin Ave. The store is relocating from Georgetown where a developer will build a four-story apartment building soon. Build-out of the paint store is underway and should be opened in a couple of months. Hey, now I don’t need to drive three blocks down to Monarch Paint to buy paint every 5-10 years or so. Cool. I’m sure the landlord is thinking that you take what you can get in this commercial real estate market. Maybe it will result in a price war, like CVS and Rite Aid where one gets driven out. Stay tuned….
Here is a quick rundown of many of the vacancies on the Glover Park business strip. This is where the Winds of Change need to blow a little harder:
2348 Wisconsin Ave – formerly Bourbon, vacant 8 years.
2400 Wisconsin Ave – Heritage India space vacant 7 years, now In Bocca al Lupo too.
2408 Wisconsin Ave – former Mason Inn vacant 6 years
2340 Wisconsin Ave – former Social Beast and Town Hall vacant 2 years
2134 Wisconsin Ave – Field English Custom Tailors vacated, will be an apartment building.
2251 Wisconsin Ave – Rite Aid 5 years ago and now NY Sports vacated, 100% vacant, 25,000 sf.
2121 Wisconsin Ave – 11,000 of 110,000 sf advertised for rent (office building)
2233 Wisconsin Ave – 47,000 of 150,000 sf advertised for rent (office building)