Nearly 14 years of baking and cafe goodness has come to an end at 17th and Galer where there is also an uncertain future for the 117-year-old house that stands there.
The Volunteer Park Cafe served its final batch of muffins, scones, and breakfast sandwiches over the weekend under owner Ericka Burke who announced the restaurant’s closure with a post celebrating the Biden-Harris victory while bidding a bittersweet farewell to the home and business:
It is a HAPPY SAD day. We have new president in the house and tomorrow will be our last day in this #littleyellowhouse. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye- it’s been a wild ride. Our hearts are filled with optimism about the future. It’s been 15 years of #alwaysfreshgoodness. We are excited as we move forward to find goodness in everything that crosses our paths. On this little corner we have experienced so much- joy, challenges, life, death, but most of all LOVE and FRIENDSHIP. For that we are immensely GRATEFUL. Thank you. To my VPC ride or die crew-thank you from the bottom of my heart. You all made VPC happen. I could have never done it without your talents, huge hearts, your scrappy determination. You are my family and you always will be. I LOVE you. We will see you on the flip side. Peace out and thank you for so many years of support!
The closure comes following the 17th and Galer’s cafe’s reopening in May after a temporary shutdown under COVID-19 restrictions that also threw a planned sale of the house and business into limbo.
Volunteer Park Cafe debuted in 2007 as a collaboration between Burke and baker extraordinaire Heather Earnhardt. Before VPC, the building housed the infamously odd Cafe Europa and old timers still refer to it as Groucho’s for the old market that served the Hill in its Leave it to Beaver days. Its presence in this leafy area of North Capitol Hill just below Volunteer Park was both a reminder of the old days of neighborhood corner markets and an occasional source of conflict for neighbors. After three years of growing the business, Burke and Earnhardt found themselves facing neighborhood backlash after a neighbor’s complaint stymied their plans for a backyard patio expansion and, for a time, put the entire cafe’s existence in jeopardy over permitting problems.
As Earnhardt left to open the Wandering Goose, Burke bought the old house for $680,000 from its longtime owner and settled into the cafe’s quieter pace.
CHS reported in March just as the outbreak was shifting into full crisis mode on plans from new owners to purchase the property and take over the cafe. Alisha Chou, part of the partnership with Andria Millie that was planning to acquire the $1.7 million property and cafe business, told CHS at the time she was still hopeful a deal could be worked out.
A person with knowledge of the deal says that the property has sold but could not provide more information about the buyers.
We’ve reached out to the partnership and will update when we learn more.
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That’s how you can tell who is a Hiller. If you remember Dick’s Market and Groucho’s.
Can really see paying $1.7m for a cafe that probably can’t do any business until next summer..
The Volunteer Park Café had a backyard that could have become an outdoor seating area, but neighbors said no. With the additional seating, it could’ve been much more viable as a business, especially during the pandemic.
I remember Dick’s Market since I worked there. I remember him saying after he was robbed and kidnapped and left to die, that “Never ever go with a kidnapper; just shoot me now and maybe someone will call the police. Out in the middle of nowhere, you do not survive.”
words to die/ live by ;( many a twizzler and pack a baseball cards…
Why was it called “Groucho’s?” Is it because that owner Bill Erickson was such a grouch?