New York coffee house plans expansion to D.C.

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Gregorys Coffee is a New York chain that's coming to D.C. (photo courtesy of Gregorys Coffee)

After operating exclusively in the New York City area for more than a decade, cafe Gregorys Coffee is coming to D.C.

The coffeehouse is making plans to open at least three downtown locations — 19th Street NW near L Street, 1147 20th St. NW and 1000 Vermont Ave. NW — according to regulatory filings and a report on popville.com.

Gregorys Coffee is primarily a Manhattan institution, with all but three of its current 26 cafes clustered in the borough. The chain has attracted enthusiastic media attention since opening in 2006, with founder Gregory Zamfotis appearing in The New York Times, GQ and local New York blogs.

“If you want to see just how much has changed in New York’s coffee scene in the last few years, stop by Gregorys Coffee,” the Times wrote in 2014, when Gregorys still had just eight Manhattan locations. “The company … has the familiar feel of a chain store: cheerful cashiers, enormous lattes, flavored syrups. But look carefully and you’ll also see a short menu of exceptional coffees from cult roasters, prepared to order on an AeroPress, a syringe-like brewer that produces coffee with unusual clarity.”

A spokesperson for Gregorys declined to discuss the company’s D.C. expansion plans but said more information should be available in early October.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2B (Dupont Circle) is due tonight to discuss public space applications for sidewalk cafes at the two planned Gregorys locations on 19th and 20th streets. The former’s legal address is 1900 L St. NW, but the coffeehouse is slated for the 19th Street side of the building, according to ANC 2B member Mike Silverstein.

Silverstein recently toured the two sidewalk cafe sites with the project’s architect. He said that while he knows little about Gregorys, he’s pleased with the plans.

“Both of these should be positive additions to the neighborhood — eyes on the street and liveliness in the neighborhood are always good,” Silverstein said in an interview. “20th Street especially is somewhat barren of sidewalk cafes, and most of the buildings don’t really interface with the sidewalk and the street. … One of the things that’s challenging in this town is we have so many of these square glass-and-chrome boxes, and if you don’t have something out there on the street, it is so cold and so forbidding.”

ANC 2B will primarily review the proposed sidewalk cafes’ impact on pedestrian access, and Silverstein said his visits to the sites suggested that neither location presented a problem.