Friday, November 19, 2010

Well, I Have Your Ellwood Thompson's Update

So, earlier in the week when I wrote about IHOP opening, I mentioned that I hadn't heard any news about the next door Ellwood Thompson's organic market.

If I can be totally self-aggrandizing here and quote myself, I commented, "Washington City Paper's Lydia DePillis reported back in June that the anticipated [Ellwood Thompson's] opening date would be January 2011. However, I've recently walked past the site and it looks like little progress has been made."

Saying I told you so is really attractive, right?

Via PoP and Washington City Paper, Ellwood Thompson's has officially backed out of their deal with DCUSA. Considering they've been "coming soon" for so long, I don't think this necessarily surprises anyone.

Jim Graham was quoted by WCP as (pretty aggressively) claiming, "I was the one who sent them there. Little did I know how conservative, really timid, they would become...they're going to pay for this very bad decision."

I'm going to assume this last sentence is in reference to the financial penalties they've incurred, and not some Soprano's style revenge that he's planning......

Ellwood's (which is a small, Richmond, Va-based grocer) will face $1 million in fines for prematurely breaking their lease with DCUSA.

Apparently, DCUSA is continuing to court other organic grocers, in hopes of filling the vacant retail space. However, as a few PoP commenters accurately noted, it'll likely be difficult now to convince a grocer to lease here. Giant is only 3 blocks away, and the Target directly above the site is now selling groceries too.

I, for one, would love to see a Whole Foods or possibly a Trader Joe's here. However, as the 3rd and H street grocer pursuit would seem to indicate, neither chain is attempting to aggressively expand their DC presence.  Yet, given the proximity of two relatively inexpensive grocery options, I think only a Whole Food's, TJ's or some other expensive niche retailer would be able to grab enough market share here to merit the investment.

I'm sure Columbia Heights residents will be waiting with baited breath to see what happens next.

Update: In keeping with the convoluted nature of Ellwood's entire attempt to come to DC....DCist now reports that Ellwood Thompson's owner Richard Hood has stated that they are continuing to work with DCUSA to open their Columbia Heights location.

"I don't know why Jim Graham is saying this. We are not in default. We continue to work with the landlord to make this happen," Hood said.

ARGH. I'll keep you updated as more information rolls in about Ellwood's coming/not coming. Don't be surprised if it's another 2 years until we have the actual answer....

Update: The plot thickens. Washington City Paper noted at 9:35am on 11/20:

"Graham reiterates that he has spoken with Drew Greenwald, president of DCUSA owner Grid Properties, who says that Ellwood Thompson's is 'in default four times to the tune of $1 million.'

'We don't know what Mr. Hood is talking about,' Graham says."

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