Category Archives: Not So Long Ago

Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and S

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM jumps all the way back to the top of Wisconsin to S St. Nowadays it’s home to the Homemade Pizza Co. and Cafe Divan.

As we’ve seen in earlier entries, several stores on Wisconsin Ave. were simply of an era gone by. That includes a video store and a whole store for books on tape. And this week we add another dead, or nearly dead, industry to the group: travel agents. In the space that currently houses the Homemade Pizza Co. there once was Adventures in Travel. And according to Google, this company is still around, now located up in Glover Park. Who knew there were still travel agents?

By 1997, this space hosted the late great Spiral Yoga, which closed last year.

Next to the travel agency was a frame store called Rowe House. It eventually moved across and down the street to next to Wagner’s Liquor. Sadly it closed a year or so ago.

Next to Rowe House was Apricots Deli, with the ubiquitous Gyros poster you see in all Greek restaurants.

Both of these spaces were eventually combined into Cafe Divan, a fantastic Turkish restaurant that offers sit-down service as well as take-out. They even run a small hotel!
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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Prospect

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM moves up Wisconsin a few doors from last week. The stretch nowadays hosts the Adidas store and Uggs.

Back in 1993, there appears to have been a tailor up the steps called Georgetown Custom Tailors. The sign frame still remains, but the sign itself is long gone. It looks like the store showed off its wares in small boxes along the stairs. Nowadays those boxes are gone and the upstairs space holds either apartments or private offices.

Next door, was a store called Ladies & Gentlemen Footwear. It being 1993, there’s a large sign in the window for Dr. Marten’s. Other than that, it appears to have been a typical shoe store.

Adidas has been in here since at least 2004. GM’s not sure when then moved in or whether anything else was there between it and Ladies & Gentlemen Footwear.

GM can’t quite figure out what is in the next store down. It looks like a couple of suits are in the window, which would suggest it was a clothing store, but no name is visible on the storefront.

Like the Nobody Beats the Wiz building, this building appears to have benefited greatly from a new paint job between then and now. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Prospect

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This week for Not So Long Ago, in honor of the new iPhone 5 that probably will be announced this week, GM stops by the Apple store.

Nowadays this stretch of Wisconsin Ave. hosts Ann Taylor Loft, the Apple store, and Nine West. GM can’t make out what was in the Ann Taylor Loft. It appears that there was a store called “Black and White” on the upper floors.

As for the actual Apple store address itself, there stood a building that Apple knocked down to build its store. GM believes that building was built in the 1980s and replaced a parking lot. In 1993, it hosted a diner called Boogies. One commentator described it thusly:

In the early 1990s, there was a branch of Boogies Diner in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC. They tried to sell trendy clothes in a diner atmosphere.

The clothes smelled like grease, and the restaurant area smelled like leather. Suffice to say, the concept did not work.

It lasted less than a year. Enough said.

According to this article, it opened in 1990, so the 1993 photo testifies to at least three years of greasy leather and leathery food. Sometime after 1993, the French Connection UK moved into this space (and occupied it until Apple bought the property). GM’s not sure if anything was in here between Boogies and FCUK, but if there was it probably wasn’t for long.

Finally, on the right in the space where Nine West currently is there was nothing. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: M St. and Potomac

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Today for Not So Long Ago, GM finally gets back to M St. Specifically, the corner of M St. and Potomac.

In 1993, from right to left this corner held Fettoosh restaurant, Smash Records, Colorfax (a copy store), and Fettoosh Express.

Fettoosh served middle eastern fare. It was open well after 1993, and only closed a few years ago. It was replaced by Morso in the summer of 2010, which was open for about five minutes. It lost its chef before it even opened, and pulled a middle of the night disappearance a couple months later. It’s been empty ever since, although GM hears that Spike Mendelsohn is opening a Good Stuff Eatery here.

Smash Records, a favorite among teen punk fans, closed up shop in 2006, and eventually reemerged in Adams Morgan. The space was replaced with Annie Creamcheese, a vintage clothing store that seems to cater to a similar crowd. It looks like Annie Creamcheese has taken over the old copy store space too.

Fettoosh Express was a take-out space for Fettoosh. Morso similarly opened a “Morso Express” in this space. It also closed at the same time the main restaurant did. GM hears Good Stuff will also use this space, although it’s not clear whether this will be the take-out part of Good Stuff, particularly since Good Stuff is nothing but take out.

GM’s always wondered about this block. It looks like these windows might have originally been garage doors. Anyone know the history?

Here are the photos:
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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Prospect

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM stops by a store whose departure (both from Georgetown and then later from rest of the city) left a large hole in people’s hearts: Olsson’s Books.

Olsson’s Books was started by John Olsson in 1972. At its peak it had nine stores across the Washington area. The Georgetown location, though, closed in 2000. Here’s a photo from the inside taken by the Post right before it was closed:

Since Olsson’s left Georgetown, this space has bounced back and forth between different clothing stores, most recently under the name Miss Sixty. Miss Sixty closed last year, and after a long vacancy, the store will soon open as an Ann Taylor Loft.

In 2008, Olsson’s still had six stores still open; GM frequented the Dupont location. But competition from big box stores and the Internet left the store struggling. It declared bankrupcy in June of that year and then abruptly closed all its stores in September.

Sadly, just over two years later John Olsson died of a heart attack.

While John and his stores are gone, GM can attest that they live on in the memories of all who loved them both. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Q

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This week for Not So Long Ago, GM goes back to Book Hill.

Starting from right to left: today these storefronts hold the new restaurant Bookhill Bistro, Manny and Olga’s Pizza, and Sassanova. In 1993 these spaces were occupied respectively by Pad Thai Restaurant, Maison de la Rose, and Georgetown Kids.

Pad Thai was, obviously, a Thai restaurant. By 2004, at least, the restaurant was replaced with the Antique Print Gallery. Soon thereafter, the space became District Fine Arts, which itself closed in 2009. After a length vacancy, the Book Hill Bistro opened up shop. GM’s been by, it’s a cozy little space, but the menu is a bit limited and too pricey. He hopes they can adjust into a nice neighborhood joint soon.

Maison de la Rose appears to have been a flower shop, however GM was unable to find any information about it. By 2004 the pizza chain Manny and Olga’s of the deliver-very-late promise moved in. They’ve been there ever since.

Georgetown Kids appears to have been a children’s clothing store. Looks like it was a great place to stock up on Oshkosh-B’Gosh. GM’s not sure when Sassanova moved in, but they were definitely there by 2004. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Dumbarton

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM stops by an old favorite for a lot of Georgetowners: the late Au Pied du Cochon.

Au Pied du Cochon means “With a Pig’s Foot”. The Georgetown location was probably named after the famous Paris brasserie of the same name, which has been open since 1947. Several other Au Pied du Cochons exist throughout the globe, including a rather well regarded one in Quebec.

Georgetown’s Au Pied du Cochon was not without its sordid history. Most famously it was the location where in 1985 Soviet defector Vitaly Yurcenko escaped from his CIA handlers by sneaking out the bathroom window and running up Wisconsin Ave. to the Soviet embassy in order to un-defect.

The restaurant closed in 2004. GM would like to say he misses the old place, but frankly he thought the service and the fare did not live up to the atmosphere. Not that having Five Guys is remotely better, though. Hopefully someday it will revert back to a French bistro.

It looks like the restaurant once spread over to the space next door. A rather dramatic and unfortunate renovation of that neighboring space took place in 2004. Now the building is faced with metallic formstone. And it’s empty. Oh well.

One last cool item: in both pictures, you can see an old ad for The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (i.e., the A & P) on the side of the far right building. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Dumbarton

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This week for Not So Long Ago, GM moves down Wisconsin Ave. a bit further. The main subject of the photo was the subject of some recent news: the old Georgetown Theater.

As you can see, while the theater (and more particularly the sign) wasn’t in great shape in 1993, it has significantly degraded since then. It looks like pretty much nothing has been done to the facade of the theater except neglect by the Heon family.

One of the bits of news about the theater that came out in this recent attention is that the National Jewel Center is moving out by the end of the month. It’s interesting that in 1993, both the two stores to the north of the theater were also jewelry stores. Nowadays the stores are still of the run-down cheap variety that populate this section of Wisconsin, but they mostly sell clothes. In GM’s opinion, like the theater they look a lot worse now.

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and O

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM finally strolls down from Book Hill a few blocks. The block in question is the east side of Wisconsin Ave. just south of O St. Today it holds BB&T bank, which even by bank standards has a terrible street presence. So it comes as quite a surprise to see that this now staid building once was about the most garish buildings on Wisconsin Ave.

In 1993, this building housed a Nobody Beats the Wiz. Unlike the chain’s locations up north (which GM was very familiar with while growing up), this location was not a full service electronics store. It just sold music and movies.

On the corner there was a flower shop called Peter’s Flowerland. On the other side was a shop whose name started with “Brav”. GM’s not sure if that was short for Bravo, or something else. Nowadays the space is a Subway. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Q

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This week for Not So Long Ago, GM once again returns to the Book Hill section of Wisconsin Ave. In particular it is the ragtag Georgetown Cafe location.

Georgetown Cafe was a greasy spoon restaurant that seemed to have its strongest appeal among late night revelers. It wasn’t spotless in 1993, but it sure looked a lot better than it does now (the cafe closed in the last year or so, but it hasn’t changed at all since then). GM understands that the landlord is looking for a restaurant to move in, so if you’re looking for a space, drop GM a line and he’ll put you in touch.

As for the other establishments, on the left in 1993 appears to have been an art gallery. As we’ve seen in some of the other old Book Hill shots, the character of upper Wisconsin as an upscale art/antiques district was not fully in place in 1993. So places like this were sort of forebearers of the Book Hill of today. Although in this particular instance, the space is now occupied by the Dog Shop, not an art or antique shop.

On the right in 1993 was a clothing store with the name “Le Petit Par[something]” (Le Petit Park? Le Petit Paris?). Sometime before 2004, Computers Plus took over this space and continues to operate a computer support shop since.

On the far right, you can just make out the side of Reed Electric, which was torn down in 2007 for the construction of a Commerce Bank (which became TD Bank).

Here are the photos: Continue reading

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