Barracks Row’s Las Placitas To Give Way to Matchbox Expansion Plans

Las Placitas and Matchbox - Barracks Row, May 13, 2015

Las Placitas and Matchbox – Barracks Row, May 13, 2015

Barracks Row’s Las Placitas To Give Way to Matchbox Expansion Plans

Character of Capitol Hill Continues to Changes As Higher Rents Attract Richer Clients

by Larry Janezich

The owner of the building housing Barracks Row institution that is Las Placitas at 517 8th Street, SE, will not renew the restaurant’s lease when it expires in October, and Matchbox – located next door – will expand into the space.

Matchbox Food Group co-owner, Drew Kim, told CHC, “Matchbox Capitol Hill is reinvesting back into the community and neighborhood after six years on Barracks Row.  We will be expanding our bar and seating and offering space for small groups.  We are doing this under the support of the previous tenant.  We also listened to our regulars and are adding in…more bathrooms!”  After renovation this fall, the new space will open in the first quarter of 2016.

Las Placitas opened on Barracks Row in 1990, at a time when 8th Street was a risky destination for residents.

Matchbox, which is laying plans for a national expansion, owns 12 restaurants in the area – three on Barracks Row: Matchbox, Ted’s Bulletin, and DC-3.  What is now Matchbox Food Group opened its first restaurant in Chinatown in 2002.

Las Placitas is the latest in a trend of retail and older bar/restaurants giving way to higher paying establishments.  Examples include Homebody, Frame of Mine, Sneed’s Barbershop, and XOXO Cleaners.  Some of the older bars/restaurants, on the other hand, have fallen victim to national chain retail able to afford higher rents, such as Remington’s which will become a Sprint outlet and a 7-11 convenience store, and the L’l  Pub which was taken over by CVS.


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25 responses to “Barracks Row’s Las Placitas To Give Way to Matchbox Expansion Plans

  1. Hill Feller

    I’m sorry to see Las Placitas go (who knew that they had been there since 1990!) but glad to see Matchbox doing well. Healthy neighborhoods grow and change and that is what is happening here. Good for the neighborhood and good for Matchbox.

    Generally speaking, it’s interesting to see existing places establishing bigger footprints. CVS getting bigger, Matchbox, could there be a space consolidation trend afoot? I’ve always been amazed that a place like Senart’s could function with such limited seating and, though I really like Beuchart’s food, they are operating in a tiny space, too.

    In addition to the other restaurant changes you mention, don’t forget that Mr. Henry’s has a new owner and management and has brought back live music upstairs. I was there the other night for dinner and it was jazz night upstairs –I looked in for a second and it was PACKED. Like barely any standing room. They are obviously doing well.


    • bud

      What a coincidence that Hill Feller, the resident apologist for Larry Quillian, has inserted a wholly irrelevant, ham-handed advertisement for Mr. Henry’s into the discussion. Bravo!

  2. Deborah

    Very disappointing to hear…… Makes you wonder what the future holds for any small business on 8th Street – between the high rents and so many people who say they want to support small businesses but shop on line instead….

  3. Maggie Hall

    ‘am upset! Las Placitas – after Alberto’s and The Broker – were the front-runners to ‘brave’ 8th Street. They were a hit from the moment they opened. You don’t mind if a business decides to close or move on – but when they’re kicked-out because the landlord has been offered a much higher rent, it’s sickening. But then maybe Las Placitas were happy to go. Can’t image that was the case but guess we’ll find out. Meanwhile ‘am intruiged to know what the Matchbox owner means by: “…we are doing this under the support of the previous tenant….” Hopefully it means that Las Placitas has been given something of a golden handshake!

  4. ET

    I like both places but I am bummed by the loss of Las Placitas – I loved their pork and their small atmosphere. 8th street (and really all of DC) is hostile to anything that doesn’t have deep pockets. Guess the (bigger) money to be made by the buildings owner was just too good to pass up.

  5. fresh air

    OOHH NO!!! Am very disappointed. We’re losing diversity on Barracks Row.

  6. Brave new world

    Deborah is right, I should never have ordered all those tacos online. My actions have led to the downfall of Las Placitas, for shame!

  7. This is terrible news for the neighborhood, losing a long-time restaurant that reflected so much character and has been a real community institution. There are neighbors from various blocks around the Hill that regularly go there as a group for dinner. Matchbox is no substitute.

  8. Moira

    This makes me want to cry. I understand neighborhoods change, but the Hill is losing a real community institution – one that was there when most people were afraid of 8th Street.

    • Michael

      Spend more money at locally owned small businesses. That’s the only way you can help keep them in the neighborhood.

      • Merry

        Small resteraunts like las placitas can be packed 24/7 and still not be able to compete with a chain that can absorb these rent increases.

  9. This is very, very sad new. I am kind of feeling like I did when Bernie died from Chats, like I lost one of my best friends. These guys are like family to me. I even worked for them a brief moment in time. Matchbox certainly is NO Substitute. Might be time to move out of the hood.

  10. Kathleen

    interesting to me how many different people have said that this has crystallized a feeling they’ve had that 1) the neighborhood is changing, and 2) it’s time to contemplate a move.

    • William S.

      The neighborhood is certainly changing but I’m not contemplating a move.

      There are upsides and downsides in all the changes: the Maples looks great, the Hine project looks very poorly designed (I love the density but it’s a huge pile of architectural blah in the middle of the neighborhood), all of the development down PA Ave past Frager’s is great, hopefully the Redsk*ns won’t come back to Stadium / Armory, I don’t really care one way or another about the CSX tunnel though apparently some people do, I wish they would run a streetcar from Eastern Market up 8th to H St NE, etc. etc.

      I don’t see any reason why somebody would move off the Hill but I could see some folks that are not fond of 8th St’s becoming a food destination wanting to move away from that area and go closer to, say, E Capitol, but that sort of shift is always happening.

      When I look at the bigger picture and where the Hill east of about 8th St used to be, I can’t cross my arms and say “the change must stop here!” Most of the change over the past 25 years has been for the good of the neighborhood and the city.

  11. Maryann Mazza

    Its real sad you’re not renewing Las Placitas lease . Las Placitas was great and should be there forever 😫 Matchbox should be expanding in another direction 😁😁😁😁

  12. Gabacho Gordo

    I suspect that Matchbox having “the support of the previous tenant” means they are paying Las Placitas to vacate the premises so Matchbox can assume the balance of their lease. If the owners of Las Placitas know that when their lease is up they won’t be able to afford the going rate, it’s actually smart to move out early. The “sublet fee” from Matchbox probably exceeds what they’d earn by operating until the bitter end.

  13. E. Masquinongy

    Thought there was a sister restaurant to Las Placitas on Pennsylvania Ave. Does anyone know?

  14. CapHillSophia

    That’s a different restaurant–La Plaza–on Pennsylvania. The owners of Las Placitas do have another location so hopefully this will not be the end of them. This is where my husband and I had our first date, and where we brought our family and friends the evening before our wedding to celebrate. The owners were so accommodating and helpful, and everyone had a wonderful time! While I love Matchbox, I hate to see the small businesses be run out.

  15. Omg…..Frame of mine is gone? Loved that place!

  16. Todd

    XoXo cleaners is one of the examples you use?

  17. Dundee

    Eastern Market and 8th Street are really becoming homogenized. The flea market is already like a Pier One cast off. Bleech…the worst of gentrification

  18. Pingback: The Hill is Home | Hill Buzz

  19. Mark

    Oh no!!!! Just this past week I brought my family who arrived from abroad to Las Plac for their first meal in America. I remember visiting the other 8th street Las Plac (where Ugly Mug is now).

    We can’t stop change or market forces but that does not make this any easier. Our little strip truly is becoming homogenized and boring imho. Pacifico Cantina? H*ll no.