‘We’re Really Just Sad’: Owners of Soon-to-Close Dupont Staples Say Goodbye

Casual Dupont hotspots Buffalo Billiards and the Front Page will leave the neighborhood by the end of August after decades of signature happy hour deals

front page and buff billiards
Left: Erica Madsen, Right: The Front Page

Two owners of decades-old Dupont Circle bars closing in late August said they will miss the neighborhood, and the neighborhood will miss them.

Buffalo Billiards has been serving game lovers for 25 years, and the Front Page— known to interns for its $5 happy hour appetizers and $3 beers — has been around for 32.

Their building's owners have “miscalculated” the Dupont community, Buffalo Billiards co-owner Geoff Dawson said.

Both bars occupy the same building on New Hampshire Avenue NW and both tried to renew their leases with Meridian Group, a real estate investment and development group, without success.

Meridian Group representatives did not immediately respond to comment.

The Front Page owner Dick Heidenberger and Dawson both said they are open to relocating, but finding an affordable space has been difficult.

Heidenberger, who also owns the Bottom Line and the Madhatter, said he is most concerned for his employees, some of whom have worked at The Front Page for more than 20 years.

“We’re disappointed to leave; we don’t want to leave,” Heidenberger said.

Buffalo Billiards General Manager Erica Madsen, who met her husband at the bar, said the staff there is like a family.

“Our dishwasher has been here for 17 years and says a prayer for the place and the people in it each night when he leaves,” she wrote in an email.

“As I type, one of my managers is in the hospital about to welcome his son with his wife who he met working here.”

Dawson, a native Washingtonian who has opened more than two dozen night spots in the District, said he is proud of the impact the bar has created for the community and the many people who have met there.

“How many children are we responsible for?” he said with a laugh.

Heidenberger attributes decline in business to the many fast casual restaurants popping up in the Dupont area. Despite the influx of retailers, Heidenberger said it’s easy come, easy go.

“As fast as they open, some [restaurants] are closing,” Heidenberger said, lamenting the steep cost of rent in the area. “Competition is fierce.”

Both bars occupy a building co-owned by Meridian Group and WeWork.

When the bars close, Buffalo Billiards Aug. 19 and The Front Page between Aug. 15 and Aug. 31, “There will be a void,” Heidenberger said.

“We know the people; we know the neighborhood,” Dawson agreed. "We’re really just sad.”

As a farewell to the community, The Front Page will schedule two special events, one in the last week of July and another in the first week of August. Buffalo Billiards is planning to host an auction with proceeds toward So Others Might Eat, a charity fighting homelessness.

For event details, check back with The Front Page and Buffalo Billiards online calendars.

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