Marvelous Market Has Closed in Ballston

by ARLnow.com September 26, 2012 at 5:15 pm 7,619 64 Comments


The Ballston location of the Marvelous Market, a small regional chain of gourmet food stores/cafes, has closed permanently.

Located at 888 N. Quincy Street, the store closed its doors for good on Monday, a tipster said. The contents of the store — including tables, signs, sinks, appliances and electronics — were promptly put up for auction.

The store was owned by a independent franchisee, not the chain’s parent company, according to Ryland Johnson, the director of operations for the Marvelous Market. There are currently 5 company-owned stores and 2 franchise stores open in the D.C. area, he said.

Johnson declined further comment.

The Ballston store is not the only Marvelous Market location to close recently. A McLean location closed in March, a Reston location and a Tenlytown (D.C.) location closed last year, and today it was revealed that the chain’s Capitol Hill franchise has severed ties with the company and reopened as “The Silver Spork.”

According to the company’s web site, the Ballston location was the last remaining Marvelous Market in Virginia.

Hat tip to @zippychance

  • Good

    That place was terrible. Maybe they can get a real market in there now.

  • novasteve

    Yay, room for more Froyo!

  • Mc

    It’s too bad. Ballston needs some diverse grocery and take out options. Sensed the owners were trying different approaches to draw folks in such as wine tasting but didn’t develop a steady enough stream of clients. I appreciated MM bringing some street life to Quincy.

  • Ballstoni

    Bring in good indian! Or Thai for that matter, since we don’t have it anymore

    • Jerry

      Try Bangkok Bistro for good Thai, its behind the Ballston Chipotle, I tried it last week, food was great.

      • b-money


        • TJLinBallston

          Let me “third” that. Ate their two nights ago. it was excellent and didn’t break the bank.

          • Mike

            I “fourth” it – it’s a nice, simple restaurant with good Thai food.
            The only drawback – or maybe this is a positive? – is that it doesn’t have the sort of cutesy, punny name one often finds on Thai places (Thai-Phoon, Thai-Tanic, All Thaied Up, It’s a Thai, etc.)

      • MariaCal

        Interesting. I didn’t know it was there. Will try it.

        • Joe

          they have a good lunch special and the food is great.

      • karzai

        Bangkok Bistro is fabulous, and very reasonably priced.

    • I like Bangkok Bistro as well.

  • gnushell

    I love MM and used to go to the one on Capital Hill all the time when I lived there. But the Ballston one had a serious parking and inventory issue and it was impossible at times to get into the store.

  • Arlington Native

    This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve noticed a gradual decrease in inventory quality over the past year and the last time I went in there and asked about seasonal beers, the clerk barely looked up from her phone to give me a less-than-helpful response.

  • TJLinBallston

    Barely a market and certainly not marvelous.

    • yeah – sad the street scene will decrease, but really hope something actually good comes in here.

  • Crystal City

    I didn’t know there even was a Ballston location. (I never know about anything in Ballston until it closes…) The one by Eastern Market is great though.

  • JnA

    Where is the wonderful Chamber of Commerce, Ballston BID, Economic Development, and the for-profit blogs when it comes to helping struggling retail and restaurants? Besides posting comments from trolls saying ‘good riddance’? -10 to Arl Now.

    • Ballstonian

      So the CoC should waste its time propping up a bad business? Maybe they closed because they didn’t provide a service or experience worth the price they were charging. That’s hardly the CoC’s problem

      • I don’t think they offered very much in terms of variety. The service was usually sullen and the bread was often stale. I kept going, hoping it would get better, because it’s the kind of place I like when done right.

    • Sherriff Gonna Getcha

      Dont worry, I am from the government and am here to help!

      • Ronald Reagan

        *yawn* I’d wish you’d let me rest in peace.

    • jan

      I’m beginning to think the Ballston Bid does not exist.

  • Joe

    MM was soooo out of line with the prices.. I bet thats why no one went there. the food and the stuff in there were Ok i went in a few times, but the prices were ridiculous.

    • Willard Romney

      You must be a 47 percenter.

    • John Fontain

      I agree. I was recently in the store and noticed that six packs of beer that would cost $9 or $10 anywhere else had $15 price tags on them. There are a lot of dumb Arlingtonians who overspend on things, but most people aren’t THAT dumb. And pricing certain products that way just leaves customers with the impression that everything else in the store must be overpriced too.

  • Arl for Now

    I remember the original bakery opening in 1990 or 1991 in Cleveland Park. Their bread was great with lines out the door. Sorry to hear of their decline.

  • Mike Hunt

    J. Wakter Tejada did not frequent it enough

    • Mike Hunt

      should read Walter

  • Ricky Rose

    Brueggers Bagels needs to go next. That place is TERRIBLE under the new management. That older guy that used to be the manager was great, but the new employees are rude and don’t know a thing about customer service.

    • Buckingham Bandit

      Unlikely. I like the place and go there occasionally. Haven’t had any problems and they have a good assortment of bagels.

  • Drunk_IrishChick

    A new Irish Pub should move in!

    • Clarendon Skank

      With hot bouncers!

      • WeiQiang

        I like the way you think.

        • Clueless Straight Guy

          Why would you want the bouncers to be hot? That can lead to heat stroke.

    • karzai

      Is that so you can bang the bouncers?

  • QP Doll

    Their prices certainly weren’t marvelous (although their wine was pretty reasonable, surprisingly)… but it would be nice to see another good small market open there.

    • Modestproposal

      Yep. They had a cheap malbec that I really liked, and I don’t know of anywhere else around here that sells it. It was the only reason I ever went there.

  • CW

    I feel somewhat bad since it’s been part of the landscape since I moved here, but on the other hand it was functionally useless since it sold generic, blase products at ridiculous prices.

    The only time I ever found MM to be useful was back when the one on 18th St. downtown used to have fire sales on sandwiches…50% off after 6 PM…

    • Tabs

      Until recently, they had Cookie Happy Hour at 3 pm, but that’s ended.

      And I had an AWFUL sandwich there recently. The chili is OK though.

      • CW

        Honestly, almost all the sandwiches I have ever had there have been awful, but for $3.50 I would take it.

  • Buckingham Bandit

    I didn’t go in there, but keep in mind that it is incredibly difficult for a market/grocery to survive on such a small footprint in terms of square footage.

    Besides, I don’t see the need for a Ballston Bodega like some of you are calling for when there is a Harris Teeter blocks to the south, and a Giant blocks to the north.

    The fundamental truth is that corner breakfast/coffee/lunch places are profitable in Ballston because of the fact that (I’m guessing) daytime population exceeds permanent population, just like downtown DC.

    If you want more residential options for Ballston, you need more residences. Not sure how much you can add in Ballston, however, as the neighborhood seems pretty much at capacity as it is, unless you re-zone commercial for residential.

    • Modestproposal

      “If you want more residential options for Ballston, you need more residences.”

      The last thing that part of 9th street needs is more residences. MM sat in the bottom floor of a several hundred unit apartment high rise, and was across the street from two similarly sized apartment buildings. The problem is that nearly *every* apartment building around there has a deli/market/bodega, and they’re all pretty similar. If anything in MM’s spot is to survive, it needs to sell something that people want and that the other shops are lacking.

      • Clarendon

        It may be due to the rent that landlords are trying to extract from ground floor retail. That prohibits many options in terms of business models and product selection. One would think that the single ground floor at the base of an 18 story hirise charging astronomical rents would not be a big factor in the overall economics of the building and the landlord could lower the rent.

        • CW

          Can anyone provide rent $/ft2 estimates for Arlington ground floor retail in a prime location like this? I know ballpark for office RE, and for residential obviously, but I can’t even guess at retail and have never seen anyone else do so either. Would be curious.

          • Clarendon

            I think $50/sq ft is a ballpark.

          • CW

            Really, so not much higher than office? Interesting.

          • Westover

            That’s near the upper end.

            It can be down in the mid 30’s even along the R-B corridor.

          • Faye Jissette

            Enough to drive established businesses like the Santa Fe Cafe out.

    • Ed

      All of the Ballston core is a special mixed-use zoning district. Residential is allowed (encouraged) and it allows for a certain amount of retail and commercial in the buildings (ground floor option).

      No rezoning is needed to gain residential units, you just need to projects to happen at a few spots that are clinging to their old buildings.

    • Not Exactly

      The closing of MM had nothing to do with residential density, especially where it was located. As many others commented, it was because of high prices, bad selection, and poor customer service. The free market did its job – a poorly ran business didn’t have enough profit to survive.

      Now, let’s hope for something good in there!

  • Ted

    What are Ballston retail and restaurant businesses receiving for what they pay to the Ballston Business IMPROVEMENT District?

    • Ed

      This building is not within the Ballston BID boundary.

  • carlynglen

    Obviously there are some misinformed people out there … BIDs & C-o-Cs are not local versions of slush fund agencies like TARP … they don’t bail out individual struggling/failing businesses. They are tasked with trying to create foster and create conditions in which businesses, if they’re well run and filling a demand/need sought by consumers, will have an opportunity to succeed.

    • carlynglen

      oops … meant to type create, foster and enhance …

      bad fingers … must have been typed by a replacement ref 😉

  • 1040NQuincy

    This market was terrible sans decent wine. 60% of the store was taken up by the checkout counter, and they lacked pretty much anything you’d go to 7-11 for (beer in increments greater than 6, redbull, or mixers) Suprised they made it this long.

  • Laura

    Another correction to a few comments made earlier: MM did not sit at the bottom of a high-rise RENTAL building, it sat at the bottom of a high-rise CONDO building. Not the same thing. The building further up the same block IS a rental bldg, but the one right above MM is not. They’re separate entities, although it was the same developer who constructed it. My husband liked the coffee at MM, but as other posters have commented, their prices were simply too high, so no one is going to go get groceries there if you can just go to Trader Joe’s or Harris Teeter. For a last moment thing, sure, but you would never shop there regularly. I actually hope another coffee shop goes in there, but one with, say a real bakery attached to it. And hopefully an independent business. And we don’t need another bagel shop or cupcake shop. I mean like a small French cafe, where you could get something to drink, something simple to eat. Something independently run and with a good baker/cook would be great. Anyhow… I know, dream on. It’s probably not a realistic scenario for this type of neighborhood.

    • I agree with Laura … a real bakery and a place where you can get something simple to eat … quiche, soup, fresh bread, cheese …

  • nota gain

    I think there is a MM in Georgetown that is fine but the one in Arlington was really a terrible place for assistance, food and the prices were way up. I was there once and that was enough. Sort of a bad location I would have thought prior to moving in.

  • alaaro

    Bring back Chevys!

  • Sam

    Chinatown coffee company, please open a second location here!!

    Seriously. A good bakery/coffee house needs to move here. I bet that is what goes in, since the new occupants of founders square have no close option for good coffee in the area.

  • Sam

    It would be nice to see the French chain Paul replacing MM.

  • SnArl

    Natural Cafe.

  • HenryBennetXIII

    Another example of someone hanging a shingle and expecting a path be beaten to their door.
    They did nothing to market it or be part of the community.
    This storebears no resemblance to the one in Georgetown. If half the thought and love they put into Georgetown were put in this store it would have been hugely successful.
    Work w us folks. Don’t come just to take our $$$.


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