I was disappointed last fall to learn that DC area gelato and espresso chain Dolcezza was about to shutter almost all its retail outlets, particularly the one I frequented in Bethesda, MD. You can imagine my delight while searching for a post-lunch jolt today to find the Bethesda location remains open. Makes sense in our COVID times, given the shop’s small footprint and few tables should favor a takeout trade.
It seems the shop remains open until an unspecified end of the holiday season. Here’s hoping they stay around for Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day…… well, you get my drift.
Many of us are finding our favorite coffee shops closed, sometimes with some notice, sometimes with none, as retail as a whole continues to suffer from the intense shocks of our COVID age. A couple recent moves:
Dolcezza, the DC area gelato and coffee purveyor, has decided to close all its shops over the next month, except for the coffee bar at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum (which is temporarily closed), and two outlets in Fairfax, VA. The company’s focus seems to be shifting to wholesale sales of its gelato. A big loss.
Another DC chain, Peregrine, closed its outlet on 14th Street NW in late June, saying it was due to increasing rents. This strip of retail and restaurants has been one of the hottest stretches of commercial retail in the area over the past 5 years, with rising rents crowding out many independent and local businesses in favor of high end chains. They continue to operate two other outlets in DC and a pop-up in The Pug, a bar along the H Street NE corridor.
In moves not related to COVID pressures, Milwaukee’s Kickapoo Coffee has completed its name change. Say hello to Wonderstate Coffee. And DC cafe and bar Colony Club has changed its name to Doubles. The name change reflects a move away from negative associations with colonialism, particularly given the gentrification in its Park View neighborhood, and ties to their in-house ping pong table.
Our final stop on our tour of DC gelato/specialty coffee shops is the Bethesda, MD outlet of Dolcezza. An area chain that is up to nine locations, including inside the Hirschorn Museum at the Smithsonian, they are noted for producing their own very high quality gelato (they use terms like crafted and artisanal quite a bit), and fitting out their shops beautifully. The Bethesda shop is a spot I know quite well, as for the past two years it’s been the nearest place to home to get a decent espresso.
The Washington DC area has a couple local chains (Dolcezza and Pitango) and a stand-alone cafe (Gelatteria) which have two main offerings: specialty coffee, and high-end gelato. Sounds like fodder for a taste test, so I recently visited all three for a comparison.