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Posted at 2:09 PM ET, 10/30/2007

The End of an Era on U Street?

By Fritz Hahn

Here's a day I never thought I'd see: Republic Gardens, once the place to see and be seen on U Street, has been evicted from its home at 1355 U Street. The doors that throngs once clamored to get through were chained with a heavy padlock, the club's possessions scattered on the sidewalk. Blogger eFromDC has photos here.

Some trusted nightlife sources confirmed that an eviction took place, but did not want to discuss details. Attempts to reach Republic Gardens staff have not been successful.

The Gardens became a fixture on the D.C. scene in the late 1990s, when celebrities like Prince, Diddy, Magic Johnson and Halle Barry were spotted amongst the loyal crowd of stylishly dressed, upwardly mobile young professionals who gathered there every weekend. But the club has lost much of its luster since super-promoter Marc Barnes left to open Love in December 2001. Despite attempts by the current owners to keep some sort of buzz going, party promoters and weekly events have come and gone without leaving a lasting impression. They've tried everything from "international" theme parties that were meant to diversify the audience to bringing back the "open bar and lavish buffet" happy hours that were Barnes's trademark event. Crowds always got thick at Howard Homecoming, but the Gardens' late-'90s vibe has never been recaptured for any length of time.

Late last year, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board suspended Republic Gardens' license because of unpaid fees and late fines that totaled $9,100. Perhaps that was a sign of things to come.

I'll update this entry when I have more information. Stay tuned.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | October 30, 2007; 2:09 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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I guess I can forget about the money they owe me. They took too long to make easy decisions and there was clearly a leadership struggle amongst "the owner" that created very sluggish movement in a fast paced industry. Not to mention, the new owners never cared about the place, if you ask me.


Posted by: WOUNDED PROMOTER | October 31, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

So what? Let's have some clubs that are accessible without being dirty and exclusively hip-hop, or gogo, and let it not be in Adams Morgan.

I personally can't stand the clubs in DC, which is why I don't go unless my best friends drag me along with them.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | October 31, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Strawberry--that's pretty harsh. (By the way, Republic Gardens wasn't in Adams Morgan.) There are such a huge variety of clubs in DC, so maybe you just need to research it a little more. I agree that there are too many places that are like Fur, Love (or Dream or whatever it is), and the like, but there are great places like 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Wonderland, 18th Street Lounge, and others that aren't all hip hop or gogo. Try some live music venues.

By the way, where do you go out then? VA and MD aren't exactly the hubs of nightlife (maybe Clarendon, but that's just the post-frat and sorority prepsters).

Then again, why do I care--DC is better without haters from VA and MD clogging up the bars and traffic.

Posted by: Strawberry says what?? | October 31, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I would like a moment of silence for all the fantastic memories I have of the Gardens when I was an HU student in the late 90's......

Posted by: Sweetie | October 31, 2007 2:00 PM | Report abuse

blah blah blah...go where you wanna have fun, and stay home if you can't find none. If folks wanna jam down to some T.I. or 3DB (those are hip hop and gogo artists if you didn't kno)...yay for them! If your thing is gettin sloshed at the 943 some odd random bars/lounges/clubs/cafe's in the city while pulsating to wutever random mix the dj throws on...then freakin PULSATE ON damn it!!!(That was a very random guess of how many bars there are in dc btw). If you ur thing is fine dining, cheap eats, movies, people watching, wall posting, band watching, or heck street roaming...dc has it all. IF you still don't wanna come out and rather brood at home about how there isn't anywhere to go w/o that god forsaken hiphop or gogo *said w/ much sarcasm (which such a falsehood! you obviously don't kno where to go) I say get some new friends to take you new places, pick up a city paper (its quite resourceful, no matter what you are into) OR cruise the craigslist personals, maybe you'll find some real excitement there.

Posted by: stay home then straberry fool! | October 31, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Republic gardens * when good music, slammin soul/trini food, open bars and fly guys that actually asked you to dance (not holding up the walls) was actually all in one club!! the good ol days.
*circa 2000, the end of the era

Posted by: aaah... | October 31, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I remember going out there for an after party for a Howard/Hampton game back in 96. All I could think was wow they have nothing like this in Hampton. It was a great club in it's day but all good things must come to an end.

Posted by: Shawn | October 31, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The owners/managers must really have some serious problems. I don't understand it. That is a hot location for a business of that type. There are numerous businesses on the same block that are thriving. They couldn't figure it out? They couldn't make it work?

Posted by: Freddie G | October 31, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Sweetie, I'm with you on that moment silence....let us not forget the good times we had under the tent during HU Homecoming....Legendary!

Posted by: HUBISON97 | October 31, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Republic Gardens was the place I met my husband 10 years ago. We are going to pour out a little liquor tonight to remember our good times there.

Posted by: byerg | October 31, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I not with the 9:30 club or Black Cat, or Alley Cat, or whatever. No heavy metal or cover bands for me.

I'd like to see a club that plays house, techno and electronica, like the some of the clubs in NYC or MIA. I know most people aren't into that, but there's something about glow sticks and pulsating music that really gets me moving.

Hmm... maybe it's time for me to get some gay male friends so I can go party.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | November 1, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

As far as I'm concerned, good riddance to RG. That place was too small anyway. Yeah, you had your wannabe chic, upwardly mobile young professional crowd, but you can get that just about anywhere. While I agree with the notion of being around a crowd that is of like mind and purpose, even I felt the environment was a bit contrived. That place was basically for out of town transplants (mostly bammas - and I use the term affectionately - from NJ, NY, MA, etc.) because no one from DC or the surrounding area really cared for it.

If you don't like hip-hop and go-go, oh well. You are in DC where go-go originated and those of us who were born here actually appreciate some of the old school (Where are my old Chuck, RE and JYB fans at??), just like my fellow hip-hop heads appreciate the classic "circa 1995" mix of Biggie, Total, Mary J. etc.

Now although I am from here, I can't get with the spots that most of the locals go to either (Classics, Legend, etc.). The crowd is too DC even for me. However, if you want a mix of just about everything, the bar/lounge and live music scene is the way to go. Ozio's is a great place to start. You've got your hip-hop, R&B, International, and a little techno from time to time. While I have never heard reggae or go-go at Ozio's, there is enough of a mix to appreciate the vibe and have a couple of great martini's to boot. And yes, there's even ample opportunity for the business card flashers to puff themselves up (Stop "networking" and have some fun bammas!).

For those who wanna knock the 9:30/Black Cat scene, you're crazy because live music is the way to go. You guys must be missing something. They may cater to the rock crowd (not that there's anything wrong with that), but have ample hip-hop and neo-soul appearances as well. It's also a great place to catch up with local talent. Gotta broaden your scope and stop listening to the radio to find out where to party, guys. RG wasn't the club everyone hyped it up to be.

Posted by: KJ | November 1, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I am assuming the RG ownership was aware eviction was eminent. Isn't eviction supposed 2 B damn near impossible in the District? Does rent control still exist? Does it apply to commercial leases? Some1 pls fill me in. I wanna know, as a new bus owner in DC & former RGer from the 90s, what the eviction process is like in prime real estate land of U St.

Posted by: WunderNDC | November 1, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Strawberry, Im going to step out on a limb and say your probably closer to a gay male then you think. But seriously, if strawberry's are your thing, you might wanna check out the gay club scene and leave that mindless techno, electronica crap where it belongs. The rest of us will continue to appreciate and be gratefull for the wide range of options we have in the DC area. I swear, out of town bammas kill

Posted by: Huh? | November 5, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

They allegedly owed $200,000 worth of back lease and the owner of the building had them evicted...

Its a shame because the staff there really were like family to each other...

Posted by: eFromDC | November 5, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

It's ashamed that so many folks don't actually take the time to read or educate themselves before posting in a public forum. The TENANTS of the space were evicted not the OWNER(S) of the building (ie the Republic Gardens). The owner(s) could find another tenant tomorrow & reopen & the party would keep right on going.

Posted by: The R | November 5, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

For those wondering about the eviction process, there's a thing called to get competent & correct info. In most cases the tenants are notified by the owners in writing (leters & statements etc). Then formal papers are submitted to the courts to start the eviction process, the tenants are notified of court dates etc. They have to show up in order to try to setup something to satisfy the overdue amounts. If they don't a default judgement is entered, after a certain period the formal eviction process is started & the tenant is notified that they need to leave said premises or be set out.

Posted by: The R | November 5, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate that the Gardens is over as a Howard Alum I had plenty of good times there but I found a nice new spot directly across the street called Momo's which has lots of flavor, good service and drinks. It is a chill two level sports bar but on Friday and Saturday nights there is a DJ for the grown and sexy

Posted by: Angela | November 15, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

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