The Politics and Prose Bookstore is one of my favorite places in my neighborhood (Chevy Chase, DC) and in the whole city for that matter. Being surrounded by tons of books is the most comforting feeling I know. With all of the changes that have been occurring in the way people consume books, with many purchased online and many read on screens, it is beyond wonderful to have a thriving real-life bookstore which acts as a meeting place and cultural hub for both the neighborhood and the city just a couple blocks down from my apartment. I love the fact that you get shamed here for talking on a cell phone. There are so few places that exist like this anymore.
I have lived in DC for 11 years and have enjoyed coming to the Coffee House in the basement of Politics and Prose regularly since first moving to the neighborhood. Even though it was a bit gritty, packed with people and due for some upgrades, I have always loved its overall vibe. It was bustling and loud and lovely. The grittiness and overcrowding was actually a huge part of its charm. The people who worked there were eclectic and super friendly, and seemed to really love their jobs. And the people who hung out there were equally colorful and interesting.
To be quite honest, when I heard that the coffee shop was going to be acquired by new management and renovated I was more than a bit nostalgic and anxious. I was concerned that the unique character and coziness of the old coffee shop would be replaced by something overly slick and hip and just plain lacking in personality with all of the amazing people who previously worked there replaced by efficient robots.
Boy, was I wrong!
The new space feels open and expansive, but still keeps its original funky and edgy (but welcoming) character. It turns out that many of the people working in the new space also worked in the old space. This gives a wonderful sense of continuity and familiarity, which is very much appreciated in a neighborhood spot.
The Den Coffeehouse at Politics and Prose maintains its original charm, while feeling much more open and interesting through a beautiful integration of rich materials, improved space planning and a better overall flow.
The space boasts of a perfect balance of materials; warm chunky wood tables combined with latte colored concrete floors, stainless steel ductwork, blackened steel table bases and exposed white-washed brick walls.
The counter where the cash register is located is a gorgeous curved bar with lovely wood strips and a black countertop atop an attractive glass display case. This new bar helps to guide circulation at the cash register and throughout the space overall. The open kitchen at the back creates a feeling of transparency and visual interest. A clever display of menu items including beers and wines written on changeable wood strips as well as a chalkboard display of daily food specials keeps everything feeling fresh.
The wrap around charcoal grey bench at the back room gives guests space to pile in family style along the perimeter of the newly added square footage. There are Distinct zones keep the layout feeling more open and accessible (laptop bar at the window, bar seating, smaller and larger table options and bench seating). Thoughtful lighting solutions via Edison-style light fixtures help to highlight the raised bar as well as the wall space filled with interesting art.
A clean metal wire track display system over crisp white walls allows for the display of changing art exhibits. The overall space lends itself to larger art display and has a distinctly gallery feel.
There is a certain added level of sophistication and elegance, without detracting from the warmth. The menu has been expanded and wine and beer are now served, which is definitely a plus.
I love this new space which has a comfortable, irreverent and independent character combined with a classy sophisticated elegance.
I am so thrilled to have the Den Coffeehouse as my new and improved/old hangout spot. If you haven’t been to the Den Coffeehouse yet, please check it out and let me know what you think. Venues like this go a long way in improving the quality of life in a neighborhood. Who says that good interior design isn’t necessary? A thoughtfully designed interior can completely transform the way people experience a space, and the newly renovated Den Coffeehouse is a perfect example of this reality. Enjoy!