Sparky’s Espresso Cafe on 14th Street is now closed. According to store neighbors, employees showed up to work late last week only to find the gate that fronts the institutional coffee shop bolted.
While employees have not yet learned the future of the restaurant which sits down-block from the Black Cat music venue, the owners have left cryptic clues for the public. A sign taped above the deadbolt notes that Sparky’s is “in transition” and promises that the restaurant will eventually relocate to an undisclosed location with a focus on “vegetarian oriented fare.” Meanwhile, the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration has used the front window of the cafe to post a liquor license application for a new restaurant using the trade name “Cork.”
According to the sign left by the cafe owners, Sparky’s will temporarily reopen at its location on Thursday, June 28 and Friday, June 29 during which patrons “can say goodbye.” Calls to the cafe for additional information were unreturned.
For more than a decade, Sparky’s Espresso Cafe has served as an anchor of the 14th Street corridor. Located just south of S Street, the cafe proved a gathering spot for musicians, artists, political activists and crowds of indie kids attending shows at the nearby Black Cat. In recent years, the cafe served as a popular wifi location. Laptops often outnumbered lattes in the cafe’s red vinyl side booths.
The 14th Street corridor endured a decades-long strugglefor resurgence following the 1968 riots which burned or displaced most businesses along the street. For most of its existence, Sparky’s anchored a neighborhood which saw little investment. In 2005, competition came with the opening of nearby restaurant and coffeehouse Busboys and Poets at 14th and V Streets. Additionally, 14U Cafe (at 14th and U Streets) opened its doors earlier this year featuring similar fare and later operating hours. This spring, the hours of operations for Sparky’s were cut back to 8p.m. on weeknights, where the cafe had previously been open until 11p.m.
Rapid development in recent years has increased property value and brought new business to 14th Street. The high-end home furnishing store Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams recently joined other, new high-hend home furnishing stores now surrounding the former cafe. Soon, FedEx/Kinkos and a new flagship store for clothing retailer Universial Gear will also claim a home on 14th Street.
Those interested in attending the temporary reopening of the cafe can do so this week.
Sparky’s Espresso Cafe – Temporary Reopening
Thursday, June 28 – Friday, June 29
1720 14th Street, NW (between R and S Streets)