If You Build a Coffee Shop, Will the Hipsters Come?

Is Anacostia's Big Chair Coffee really a game-changer?

D.C.'s big retail news of the week was the opening of Big Chair Coffee, widely reported to be the first bona fide coffee shop in Anacostia. But is its arrival a sign that the neighborhood is now set for bigger and better things?

Well, it would not be the first time that a caffeine outpost was credited with spurring the trendiness of a D.C. neighborhood. Big Bear Cafe has done a lot to bolster the reputation of Bloomingdale, and Busboys and Poets on the ground floor of CityVista in Mount Vernon Triangle is one of the main things drawing people to the neighborhood centered around 5th and K Street.

Also, following in the footsteps of renamed neighborhoods like the H Street Corridor and NoMa, this section of Anacostia is already being rechristened River East, a name that sounds like it was created by a band of industrious real estate agents.

However, every D.C. neighborhood that has undergone a change for the better has needed an influx of "pioneers" to help kickstart change. The H Street Corridor's transformation did not happen overnight. Rather, a critical mass of new residents (not to mention a popular bar or two) was needed in order to put it on most people’s radar. In a post on DCist about Big Chair Coffee’s grand opening, the author overheard a customer explaining that developers won't build out River East "until the white hipsters move in."

Perhaps this is the sad-but-true reality. What do you think? Voice your opinion in the comments section below.

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