Adios Lee Loo

Our reader Cozmot reports that an eviction notice has been posted at the Lee Loo Lounge (6th & G Streets NW).

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I had not yet been to Lee Loo. However the few times the restaurant came up in conversation with locals the same basic sentiment came across “nice owners, we try to support them, but it doesn’t seem like they know how to run a restaurant.” I certainly don’t want to kick anybody while they are down – but what should Lee Loo have been doing differently?

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  1. 1

    Cozmot says

    Probably the biggest mistake they made was to think that the corner of 6th and G streets NW was a good location for fine dining. It's not. We saw this at Nick & Stef's Steakhouse and, later, Drinx at 6th & F streets. What finally worked there was a sport bar, the Greene Turtle, and they seem to be doing very well.

    Lee Loo couldn't even get a lunch crowd because for a while their lunch menu was their dinner menu. That doesn’t work anywhere. They did have a great hamburger for lunch, but it wasn’t on the menu or publicized. By the time they had a real lunch menu with lunch entrees and lower prices, it was too late.

    Likewise, when they finally put less expensive entrees on their dinner menu, they had already lost that crowd.

    There must have been confusion about what Lee Loo actually was. The owner (at least of of them, as this was some kind of family venture) was a designer by profession, not a restaurateur. He took great pride in transforming this previously sketchy space. The end product, however, looked more like a cocktail lounge than a restaurant. The name of the establishment,”Lee Loo Lounge,” contributed to this. They later added “Restaurant,” but again, it was too late.

    “Lounge” and “Restaurant” notwithstanding, there was also the “Lee Loo” part. I first thought it was a Chinese restaurant. Who wouldn’t with a name like that in Chinatown? The owner, however, said it was actually of French origin. I’m no etymologist, but dammit, that sure sounds Chinese to me!

    Finally, there was the problem of the manager, who came from Oyamel on 7th Street NW. I could never figure out what this guy was doing, exactly, at Lee Loo. I went to lunch there several times and he was always sitting with a woman in a corner table looking at a laptop. Whatever he was doing it wasn’t putting together a lunch menu or more reasonable dinner menu. By the time he finally did that (or someone else, because for all I know, they may have fired him by then), I was no longer going there.

    There were a number of us in the neighborhood who tried hard to support this restaurant. My wife and I went there with friends and family. There was a community social event there. And I never talked it down to people. I just kind of gave up when it was clear that they weren’t learning. It was too hard on my wallet.

    I wish that family well and hope that we get some kind of dining establishment there that works (Silver Diner anyone?).

  2. 2

    pqresident says

    Cozmot is correct. there will be a better lunch/dinner crowd once 700 6th St opens up but that presumes a well tuned restaurant.

  3. 3

    Chris 555 Mass says

    Yes, I had high hopes for this location, but they just didn’t have the right mix of location, menu, decor, etc. I wanted it to be a great neighborhood hang out, but the never really found thier niche. Hopefully something will move in here quick and get it right.