Kentucky Fried Chicken, at Florida Ave and North Capitol St, has closed its doors after 28 years (see image below) in business. It is a very good sign that property values for the area have increased to the point that even a well-established national fast food chain cannot justify occupying such a large swath of land.
This is not to suggest that there is no place in city retail for fast food restaurants, but does, in a very positive sense, reflect the fact that developing areas, such as NoMa, reach a tipping point: revenue cannot support unused or marginally productive land such as grass lawns or parking lots.
Wendy’s will at some point close its doors due to DDOT’s fix of New York Ave, and McDonald’s will find it especially hard to continue operations where more than half of its property is pavement. Further applying pressure will be the upcoming arrivals of Five Guys, Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, and Sister’s Pizza & Mussels adjacent to the new ATF headquarters.
As for the KFC site, it would be nice to see someone convert the restaurant into an establishment that can both serve good food (and beer) and pay homage to the fixture that this facility was in this area. With permission from Yum! brands, keeping much of the outside red/white decor and the Colonel’s logo (albeit, with maybe some artistic modifications to his look) would be step one. Converting the existing “patio” into fenced outdoor seating that will still allow patrons to be visible and interact with pedestrians (nothing fancy needed) is step two. Converting the counter into a small bar is step three. Producing a simple, yet original, menu is step four.
Our former neighborhood, East Nashville, was very clever about such transformations, and potential developers could look in its direction for inspiration–a good example is the Alleycat Lounge & Tex-Mex Grill.