Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big Chair Coffee Has Closed. Good News?

[UPDATE: Big Chair is NOT ACTUALLY CLOSED. Sources were mistaken. However, they are still actively looking for a buyer, and this revelation does not explain why they were closed all last week...]

It's a bittersweet moment for Anacostia, yet one that won't inspire too many misty eyes: Big Chair Coffee has closed.

Never fear, it's not because Anacostians don't like coffee, it's just that we like good coffee (and cleanliness), and Big Chair's steep decline after it's major fanfare Winter 2010 opening was too much for most of its eager patrons to handle.

Rumor has it that the owners are in talks to sell the shop to someone new -- who would, I hope, take Big Chair's failings into account and make this place the neighborhood java joint everyone was hoping for from the start.

Regardless of what happens next, let this be a lesson to others that might come next: just because Anacostia is an under-served market doesn't mean that the neighborhood has lower expectations. We like nice things, too.

[See comments for ideas on why it closed / stopped being a go-to spot.]

original photo courtesy of Washington City Paper


IMGoph said...

Now that the store is closed, can you explain some more about what the problems were? As someone who didn't frequent it often, but did stop in, I wonder what the specific problems were.

David Garber said...

Good question.

Their biggest problems were:

1) Inability to produce orders in under 20-30 minutes.

2) Hours. Never really opened before 9-9:30. This was a coffee shop.

3) Coffee wasn't good. (of course this is an opinion thing, but that's was a pretty common complaint)

4) Lack of identity. Was it a coffeeshop? Was it a restaurant? Was it a take-out place? Was it a bar? Not knocking diversity, but it struggled having a clear identity that people could easily latch onto. The lack of specialization meant that nothing was really great.

5) General cleanliness. Wouldn't say it felt "dirty" in there, but often suffered from smelling bad and just not feeling 100% put together as a functioning place.

6) Lack of efforts to improve. Despite the great friendliness of the ownership, they never seemed eager to take advice from patrons or friends about how to improve. I think they were more interested in having a business than having a coffee shop / bar.

Ms. V said...

What DG-Rad said....

7) lack of professionalism... never really know who was working there

8) Decor.... they really needed better decor upstairs. It was uninviting and not a place you wanted to stay all day like in other coffee shops

Cole said...

I must agree with the decor. It was all mis-matched and not in a way that made sense.

I also went in one day to order breakfast and was told, "the cook is out today." o_0. So, you serve food but don't have a cook?

I hope the space can be reopened / restructured by someone with a better plan.

I would love to have a nice coffee shop in the neighborhood.

Sariane Leigh said...

Bottom-line, they offered low quality, fried, unhealthy sub-standard services and decor. Anacosia already has enough of low quality health options. Why spend the time, money and energy to open a business and not give the community the best? The coffee shop could have been so much more.

Anonymous said...

I've heard some of the owners complainting about how the Uniontown & Bar Grill, Stole It's Costomers Base Every Since It Open Across The Street..