Steve Tekle, owner of new Aroma Bakery and the U Wine and Beer store, told me last week that he was working with the current owner of Maggie Moos on U street to buy all of the equipment and take over their lease. It wasn’t a done deal yet so he didn’t want me to write anything about it on my blog. However, now that Prince of Petworth has confirmed it I guess I can write about it too.

Steve will not be keeping the franchise of Maggie Moos (woo hoo!) but will keep the location as an ice cream shop. When we were talking he said that he thought the location could do a lot better, that the service wasn’t that great and the ice cream was overpriced (part of it being a franchise made the ice cream expensive). I agree with him, and on top of that the ice cream isn’t very good. I can count the number of times I’ve been in Maggie Moos on one hand and I’ve lived in the area nearly 3 years. I’m excited for a better, cheaper ice cream place on U street and wish Steve the best of luck!

Aroma bakery

Aroma bakery

A few weeks ago, I noticed Aroma Bakery had opened, only after a couple of weeks after the Dollar Store had closed. It is, indeed, as I had guessed, still owned by Steve Tekle, the local business owner who also owns the U Wine and Beer store across the street. The bakery doesn’t offer breads by the loaf, but does have a decent selection of deli sandwiches, salads, assorted pastries/deserts, coffee, snacks, and a nice selection of more gourmet-type sodas and juices.

I spoke with Steve while picking up some sandwiches for a Sunday lunch. He told me that he had been planning for a while to close the Dollar Store and open something that would fit in more with the current dynamics of the neighborhood. He thought that the neighborhood could use, and support, a business that would attract different customers than a dollar store would. Similar to what he’s done with U Wine and Beer, which went from a convenience store to a pretty nice beer/wine store, he decided to open a nicer, but decently priced bakery, focusing on lunch fare.

The space is nice, bigger than I thought it would be from the street. The bakery is airy and open, with a few tables to stand by and eat if you desire. The menu is fairly priced, with sandwiches ranging from $4 to $6.50, salads from $5 to $6.50. They even have a sandwich named after Jim Graham. The sandwiches we had, an Italian sub and a Reuben, were good. I liked the Reuben better, more because I like corned beef and the pumpernickel/rye bread that it was served on was very good. So good that it was better than other bread I’ve had on deli sandwiches in the area. The Italian sub was a nice rendition of the classic sub. Servings were big enough that I had leftovers to bring to work.

A very good Reuben

A very good Reuben

What I especially appreciated when speaking with Steve was his willingness to adapt to his customer’s needs and wants. He said that he was open to changing nearly anything about the bakery if a customer asked. He wants to serve the neighborhood and what it wants, which is something that I find really likable in a business owner.

So, definitely stop by for a sandwich, salad, coffee, or pastry at Aroma Bakery – it could easily become a go-to spot to get lunch or a quick dinner in the neighborhood.  And check out some more photos of Aroma Bakery, including the menu, on my Flickr photostream.

Blogger note: Once I asked to take photos of the bakery, I was soon outed as “U Street Girl” and offered sandwiches on the house, which I accepted. I was certainly hoping the sandwiches would be good enough so that I wouldn’t have to write something unfavorable about a local business owner I like. And thankfully, I didn’t.  They still would have been good if they weren’t free.

Aroma bakery, seems to be open

Aroma bakery, seems to be open

Well, that was fast. I was on my way to a yoga class so didn’t have time to stop in, but it appears that Aroma Bakery, formerly the Dollar Store, is open now. It only closed a few weeks ago, so that was a quick turnaround if I ever saw one. I will stop in soon and give my impressions on the new bakery.

Well, that didn’t take long to figure out, the dollar store on U street is becoming Aroma Bakery. I assume it is and will continue to be owned by Steve Tekle.

And, the empty lot/pit next to Marvin will  become a wine bar/bakery called 14th Street Bakery and Wine Bar.

So our ‘hood is going from having zero bakeries to two? Not bad.

Dollar store, closed

Dollar store, closed

The Dollar Store on U street between 13th and 14th seems to have closed for business Monday. They were having a going out of business sale, but it looks like they were all done Monday. Thanks from the tip from reader Paul for the intel (you think I would have noticed since I pass by here at least once a day).

The owner is/was Steve Tekle; he also owns U Wine and Beer across the street – which shows no signs of closing, by the way. I ran into him the other day and it totally slipped my mind to ask him what was happening to the store. So I’m not sure if he’s closing it because of  bad sales but trying to open something new in the space, if he’s giving up the space, or what. I run into him semi-regularly, he’s one of the local business owners I’m friendly with, so I’ll be sure to ask him the next time around and get some information. That’s a great location so it would be interesting to see him do something else with the space.

U Wine and Beer

U Wine and Beer

Do you shop at U Wine and Beer? It’s owned by Steve Tekle, who also owns the Dollar Store across the street. Sounds like a completely unremarkable place, but I appreciate it because the owner’s always friendly, the beer and wine choices are solid, and Steve knows who I am. (Does it say something that the two business owners in the neighborhood who know me own a bar and a liquor store? Nah, I don’t think so).

Steve is uber-friendly, I soon learned that while he was born in Ethiopia, he’d lived for some time in Sweden before coming to the US in 1999. He always waves hi when I see him walking around the neighborhood, and makes me feel more like U street is my home.

Well now they’re (triumphantly so, they had to fight to get the right license – see above link) holding wine tastings with different wines each Friday from 5 -8 pm, and if you decide to buy one of the wines you taste, you get 10% off. Helped tremendously when trying to pick what wine to serve with dinner the other night.