Friday, February 17, 2012

Bye, Bye, Babe's

So, let's continue with the restaurant closure theme today, because closing is what a majority of restaurants do after a year or two. (Though the oft-quoted 90% failure rate isn't really accurate.)

Word is that Babe's Sports Bar will at some point be replaced by Tex Mex restaurant Fajita Coast, which is vacating its current Four Corners location due to a dispute with its landlord. Based on the vitriolic reviews of Babe's recently left in the comments sections of this blog, I don't imagine a lot of readers will be shedding a tear over the sports bar's departure. Reviews on Yelp! and in a recent issue of the Gazette weren't any more forgiving.

While I only made it there a handful of times, I'm still sad to see Silver Spring's only dedicated sports bar depart. Where else will you find Gus Frerrote's jersey proudly displayed on a wall outside of the living room of his mother's house? I went there to watch the Redskins-Cowboys game last fall, and the place was pretty packed, though there were a few too many Cowboys fans for my taste. Having the games projected on the exterior wall was novel, as was the faux beach they created in the summer months. They tried, but the restaurant business is brutal.

A sports bar had been on my wish list for downtown Silver Spring for quite awhile and I was delighted when I heard one was opening here. Guess it's going back on the list.


Anonymous said...

Sucks that they failed, but not very surprising. They tried hard, but very obviously didn't "get it" when it came to a lot of things (which is odd since as far as I know, they were decently successful in old space in Tenleytown).

I'm very happy that the turnover leads to the spaces being immediately filled, as is the case with both Highlands and Babe's. It's almost guaranteed that Fajita Coast will be an improvement.

Patrick Thornton said...

Babe's wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but the owners didn't seem to understand the market. It was a really low bro sports bar (perhaps more fitting of a college town) in an area with a lot educated, fairly affluent people. Indeed, it originally was packed with pool tables (enough that at first it was more pool hall than sports bar) and it seemed like the place was trying to appeal to a market that simply wasn't there. Also the slushy machines were strange.

I did enjoy watching games at Babes. The food wasn't great, but it was plenty good enough for the price. The projection of games onto the wall worked well. If you wanted to watch a football game, Babe's was one of the cheapest in the DC area places to grab a few palls and sit fro awhile.

The problems with Babe's are that the beer selection is quite limited (and not to what the market wants), the interior just doesn't work, the upstairs/downstairs dynamic doesn't mesh and there is no real hook. Every bar needs a selling point to stand out in a crowded market.

The space itself is an issue. The upstairs/downstairs is hard to work with. In some ways, I think it would be better if the space were split into two different retail outlets. Perhaps the bottom part could be for a restaurant and the top for a cafe. It'll be interesting to see how Fajita Coast utilizes the bizarre layout of this building.

jag said...

"It was a really low bro sports bar (perhaps more fitting of a college town) in an area with a lot educated, fairly affluent people."

EXACTLY. That's exactly what I posted in my Yelp review and the owner responded, but still didn't understand. 20910 isn't some midwestern college town that wants to pound Miller and PBR all day. The fact that there was basically no beer selection made zero sense. Of course this place failed and everyone who went there can tell you exactly why. Why didn't the owners change anything (other than making their menus more and more convoluted with every passing week).

Alex said...

I think the location was the biggest problem. Does any bar in that space stay open longer than a year?

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see a sports bar go in this craphole of a social hell of a downtown but Babe's jsut didn't get it.

At this point I think the building is a huge issue and anything in there is doomed to fail. As well as the horrible location.

The other thing is the place really did cater to a pretty ghetto clientele. Just odd and full of the same assclowns that tend to go to Galaxy.

The area to the right of it is skeezy but the area to the left (if you're looking right at the building) is affluent. They should work harder on attracting THOSE people.

And how many restuarants have failed in DTSS in the last 3 years? It's staggering.

Gotta be the highest turnover of the DC area.

Patrick Thornton said...

With three new residential buildings coming online this year right near where Babe's is located, that space should be a lot more palatable and valuable. You still need to create a place that people want to go to. I live right by Babe's, but almost always walk farther to go to other places in DTSS.

Anonymous said...

That building needs to be raised and MoCo really needs to work on developing that area of Georgia avenue. It's downright depressing to walk along there.

Half the building are burned out and look abandoned.

I'm always sad when a bar gets closed around here to be replaced by another BORING BORING restaurant for old people and families (because we dont have four thousdan of those already).

That said I will miss laughing at the owner Ron making an ass of himself on Yelp. That was fun.

Anonymous said...

Just an idea: if you create a bar called BABES, maybe you should Hire some BABES. or girls that are not straight hideous.

This also might attract some BABES to your bar so that other men might want to come.

Not a sermon, just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Can't say I ever gave it a chance. I mean it was tacky from the start. "Babes"???...terrible name...then they added the sand with fake sea life clinging to fishing nets... I could get past all that if the place rocked...but it sounds like it didn't.

Anonymous said...

damn, you mean we will all miss out on amazing nights like this (full of babes I might add):

Easley Does It said...

I agree that it's the location and the layout of the building. For whatever reason, some spaces don't work, and that's one of them. I fear Fajita Coast--as good as it is--will learn the same hard lesson. To me, the Mayorga space is so much more inviting. I don't know why it's still vacant.

Patrick Thornton said...

The Mayorga space is much easier to work with, but it's rather large. You would need to put in a restaurant that could use that kind of space. Perhaps a microbrewery?

I also fear that Fajita Coast may find the Babe's spot very hard to work with. They'll have to get creative.

If Fajita Coast fails, perhaps the owner of that building should consider making it into separate buildings that could better work for tenants.

I believe, however, that everything on that block up until the Veridian will eventually be sold and redeveloped. It's valuable land, and it's being sorely underutilized right now.

Anonymous said...

If they destroyed that building and upgraded that horrible area nearby that location could work. It's technically not far from Jackies.

Anonymous said...

You mean from the bridge to the Verdian? Underveloped is putting it nicely.

It looks like a burned out ghetto/ third world country.

Never mind the rape walkway under the bridge to get to Babes if you're walking down from DTSS.

Patrick Thornton said...

I'm more talking about from the Veridian all the way down East-West to that old auto garage place. Basically it's a strip of old, low-rise, poorly built buildings. The walkway under the bridge is poorly done too, although I've never had any issues walking under it and crime reports don't suggest it's an issue (I read every DTSS crime report). That government building right by the walkway could be better too.

Ideally, from the Veridian until the end of East-West would be redone as mixed use.

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to answer my question? Where is that guy who defends everything DTSS no matter what?

Does ANYWHERE have more failed businesses than this downtown that is not named Newark NJ?

Anonymous said...

Wah. We will REALLY miss Fajita Coast here in Four Corners, and I fear the building's landlord won't make it easy for any place that comes in to replace it. So ironic that there's an article in the Gazette about how hard he's working to keep his little Greek restaurant doing well, when he is, in actuality, actively sabotaging his own tenants by towing their customers' cars, etc.

After learning how he treated the super nice guys who own and run Fajita Coast, I will NEVER go there.

Anonymous said...

I realize I'm commenting on the idiot who bashes Silver Spring all the time but it's only to encourage everyone to continue to ignore the idiot who claims Silver Spring has the highest turnover rate in DC or the nation or whatever.

So I apologize. Keep ignoring the wee troll.

Easley Does It said...

We ate at Fajita Coast tonight and the owner confirmed they're moving into the Babe's space. Date tbd.

Anonymous said...

I went to babes a few times and found it quite enjoyable, the food was good the drinks were cheap and there was always activities going on or sports to watch.I will be sad to see it go. The owner really seemed to care about the place and making sure people were enjoying themselves.

Anonymous said...

No wonder businesses fail in silver spring. It is loaded with lousy people who beat up business. There are only a hand full of people who put out reviews and they all should be banned from posting unless they post a positive as well.
But lets all face it, Silver Spring is a crappy town with crappy clientele that is why so many business fail here!

srichards said...

Wow "beer selection", you obviously do not drink bottled beer. Because if you did you would not be disappointed. They have many beers to offer in bottles. They have a great selection and what they have on tap is not bad. I will be very sad to see it go... every time I was there (about twice a month) it was very busy so they must have been doing something right.

srichards said...

follow up, maybe if all these "affluent" people in Silver Spring got their heads out of their " a.." and actually patronize our neighbor hood businesses there would not be such a high failure rate in Silver Spring.

Patrick Thornton said...

Restaurants have a notoriously high failure rate within the first year. Babe's followed the rule, not the exception. The good places in Silver Spring are packed (I've had to leave Quarry House Tavern twice in recent months because it was too packed). We do support good local businesses. And it's easy for those of us who live in DTSS to take the metro or a bus and go into DC to one of the many quality places there.

Local bars have to compete with the best of Silver Spring and DC. Tonight I'll be meeting with some friends and hitting up a really good bar in DC.

Babe's did not have a good beer selection compared to a places such as Quarry House Tavern, Church Key or RFD. That's beer selection. I drink a lot of bottled beer and usually have my fridge stocked with microbrews, and I would not consider Babe's to have a good beer selection. Babe's had a good beer selection if you're comparing it with some bar that mostly serves Budweiser and similar junk.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone shocked that the nerd loser who defends any criticism of Silver Spring like it's his family had nothing better to do on a Friday night than sit around and post an angry response about the "NOVA troll"?

Also love the clown who thinks people should be banned for having opinions unless they offer a positive one too. Maybe this clown is right: Silver Spring is filled with lousy people

Anonymous said...

wee. little. troll.

Anonymous said...

Don't feed it!

Anonymous said...

"troll"= uttered by a sensitive nerd that can't actually defend any of the bs he says. Again find me a thriving area where as many businesses go under as silver spring. I'll wait. (bet you can't and will make another off topic response)

Danielle Meitiv said...

The beer selection sucked and the fries were cold and soggy. I was expecting bar food but NOT from my college town days.

I wanted Babes to succeed but @srichards I will not patronize a local place that patronizes me by selling lousy food and beer. Folks want good stuff on tap - don't sell it and and they'll find it somewhere else. Like Jackie's or McGinty's, two local places I'm very happy to help support.

I would LOVE to see the hell strip from Veridian to Montgomery College upscaled into something other than a horrible strip of car places. And was it here that I heard mention of a fantasy of Selim Road as a cool restaurant-club strip? That would rock - even for this mom of two who only ever gets out for "date night" once a week.

If only I had deep pockets. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Danielle is correct. It's amazing how may Silver Springers will accept and embrace mediocrity because "it's silver spring" and "we are up and coming" and there's been "a ton of improvement" and "this area used to be a ghetto".

People work for a living and their money is valuable. If you can't provide even an average experience for the price you deserve to close. See also: Piratz bar

Danielle Meitiv said...

What's the deal with Highlands? what's moving in there?

Anonymous said...

I predict a trifecta of failure, with #3 being Fire Station #1.

Food = mediocre, beer selection = mediocre, service = nonexistent.

If any place deserve to go under, it's this poorly managed joint.

What could save it? Turn IT into a REAL sports bar, with pool tables on the ground floor (towards the back) and a big screen in front of the huge roll-up doors. Hang shades to cut out the glare, when necessary.

And...immediately fire the weekend bar staff who are, it appears, too bored or angry to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

DTSS? Restaurants and bars closing en masse?

No way! The dorks who defend the place SWEAR things are looking up. What's going on?

Anonymous said...

such a shame...this side of east west highway needs a great bar...hell this whole damn town needs a great bar...or really any bar. btw mcginty, or whatever that is next to the old ok..and thats it...just ok. and its also the only bar. and btw...good riddance to piratz tavern..,that place SUCKED!!!


Anonymous said...

I heard that they were selling it because of an illness in their family. We go there all the time and enjoy it. The BBQ is great we will miss it. Hope the new owners will keep the beach and out door patio!

Anonymous said...

"What could save it? Turn IT into a REAL sports bar, with pool tables on the ground floor (towards the back) and a big screen in front of the huge roll-up doors. Hang shades to cut out the glare, when necessary."

Why FS1 didn't have roll up doors in the first place is beyond me? Roll up doors are synonymous with fire stations and it's also a cool modern element for a bar/restaurant. I mean I realize it's a historic firehouse which didn't have roll-up doors back in the day but come on...

Sligo said...

Re: Rolled up doors @ FS1:

This may have something to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Sligo said...
Re: Rolled up doors @ FS1:

"This may have something to do with it."

What a crock of shit...another reason (albeit a small one) why I can't wait to move out of this county and state!

Sligo said...

RE: "another reason (albeit a small one) why I can't wait to move out of this county and state!"

Well, it looks like the law is changing, anyway. The rationale behind it of preventing rodents from getting into restaurants is a good one, though. If you want to move somewhere with rat-infested restaurants, try New York.

Anonymous said...

Last time I checked, rodents don't if you're saying that the rodents are only entering restaurants through open doors, isn't it possible the roll up doors don't have to go all the way to the ground?...maybe they can close onto a knee high exterior wall...still get that open air atmosphere but without those rats you refer to....just a thought. I realize you're not making the rules but your defense of them is easily rebutted. As for here...too many people...and for that matter...rats I guess

Sligo said...

RE: "Last time I checked, rodents don't fly"

They don't need to. Rats can scurry up walls fairly easily.

Anonymous said...

And they can also chew through screens so there's another hole in your defense (pun intended)

Anonymous said...

Good God. There are people that will miss Babes? Now I've seen it all.

Apparently people do like spending money in the lamest place on Earth.

I will say the BBQ was okay but the way the owner described it, you'd think it was right out of Memphis.

Anonymous said...

I actually liked their burgers and fries. Not Ray's good, but definitely decent for a sports bar.

Everything else about the place was terrible - poor beer selection, clueless waitstaff, bartenders, managers etc. I also coudn't stand that they would blast music while games were on TV... especially in the summer during baseball season. This bar just didn't fit here. A sports bar could absolutely work in Silver Spring but it would have to be trying to go for a Crystal City Sports Pub atmosphere and not what Babes was doing.

It's a shame because I was one of the people excited for it when it opened but I haven't been there since September after giving it several chances.

Anonymous said...

The music during games was a no no. Just clownshoery all around. The food was pretty bad overall.

I did think the Ribs were not bad. And it looks like Ron DID care, but he certainly needed an advisor because a lot of his ideas werent working.

Also I'm not sure I can blame Ron. That BUILDING sucks and has to go.

Anonymous said...

My meal at Piratz Tavern was the worst. The food was mediocre at best and took forever to arrive. The servers seem to be inconvenienced by the fact that they should actually do their jobs. For example, we finally got our basket of bread after we had been there for over an hour. The whole time my party was treated rudely by most all of the staff. And don't bother complaining to the manager...

Anonymous said...

In case anyone cares, Babes is having a going away party tonight and introducing the new owner.

Ron IS a nice guy despite some of my scathing reviews, so if you want head out there and show some love.

Anonymous said...

Talked to Ron last night. Seems like a good dude. Really nice guy, sad to see him go and best wishes to his family.

That said, it's annoying that there is ANOTHER family restuarant opening up around here.

And this shouldnt be a RETAIL FAIL tag since he said it's a family illness. If that's true anyway.

Anonymous said...

Fajita Coast's website says they open in the new location on Monday the 27th! That seems impossibly fast.

Anonymous said...

Random aside- Mayoraga may not have the immeadiate appeal because it doesn't have a full kitchen. Or, really a kitchen at all. A full build out/knock out walls/etc would need to happen to even think about making it a place that sells more than sandwiches.

Anonymous said...

Ron said they were going to start next week.

They really need to re-paint the outside.

Byebabes! said...

Fajita Coast is opening on Tues the 28th at 11am, says the note on the window of former-Babes. As a resident of a neighboring condo building I really hope they do well. Babes was an embarassment, to say the least. It looks like FC is keeping the same layout (bars on both levels) which I'm not sure is the wisest move, but hope it works for them. The space is just so big though that I really hope they're able to fill it.

Anonymous said...

I will miss having FC in my neighborhood but I will patronize them and hope they succeed. The guys who run it are really great and the food is good, the margaritas are good .... I wish them well. Plus, this is NOT a chain -- it's a homegrown successful restaurant.

Anonymous said...

The floor plan layout of Babes was a big problem. The beach bar didn't make sense and was kind of tacky. That whole block needs to be rethought and redeveloped. Food was mediocre. I miss the old Babes of Tenleytown.

Anonymous said...

Mayorga failed because it took them 10 minutes to pour a cup of coffee. With no one else on line. I recently went to the Takoma version and it was the same terrible service.

Patrick Thornton said...

Mayorga's coffee is pretty good, but, no, their service isn't anywhere near Starbuck's caliber. And from what I've seen, most baristas at Starbucks are actually more knowledgeable and passionate about coffee.

I would still love to have a Mayorga or another coffee shop on East-West.

Anonymous said...

east west is a poorly thought out hellhole that has no street space for retail.

Kind of like MOST OF DTSS

Anonymous said...

So I went to FC on Saturday and had a pretty tasty burrito. Interestingly enough, this was the first time I stepped into this building...I never wanted to go to Babes....not sure why but never wanted to go. Anyway, I sat upstairs and I liked it. I felt the upstairs has a lot of sunlight and might be better suited towards families whereas the downstairs felt more like a dark, sports bar. In other words, I would probably prefer to eat with my kids upstairs and drink beers with my buddies downstairs. That's not to say you can't do the opposite. I hope they do well, I'll go back for sure.

Shush Escort said...

With 3 new residential buildings returning on-line this year right close to wherever Babe's is found, that house ought to be lots a lot of comestible and valuable. you continue to got to produce an area that folks need to travel to. I live right by Babe's, however nearly always walk farther to travel to alternative places in DTSS

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