The shuttering of the popular Horace & Dickie’s carryout on March 1 has generated discussion about the plight of Black businesses in a gentrifying District.
Horace & Dickie’s, located near the H Street Corridor in Northeast, will cease operations after 30 years. Its owner, Richard Shannon, the “Dickie” in the carryout’s name, told The Informer on Feb. 14 that he wants to retire.
“It’s time to move on,” Shannon said. “I am 82 years old.”
Shannon said he will still manage his restaurant by the same name in Camp Springs, Md., and his daughter will have her eatery with the similarly named Horace & Dickies in the Takoma neighborhood of the District. He made it clear that he chose to shut down his 12th Street location as a business decision and not outside pressures.
“This is not the result of gentrification,” Shannon said. “I am not being pushed away.”
Since 1990, Horace & Dickie’s has become known for its signature dish, fried whiting. The carryout also serves catfish, croaker, fried chicken and other side items such as potato salad, coleslaw, french fries, macaroni and cheese, hush puppies and collard greens.
Old newspaper articles on the wall show celebrities such as boxing promoter Don King and the late “60 Minutes” journalist Ed Bradley patronizing the establishment.
The demographic and commercial changes taking place in the H Street NE corridor have some Horace & Dickie’s customers speculating that gentrification has taken its toll on the carryout.
“I really will miss this place,” said Kiara Ramos. “But I knew this would happen. Look at what is happening in this area. It is hard to park here and when you go to buy some food, you will find a $100 ticket on your car. Don’t get me wrong, the fish is good but I can’t pay for food and a parking ticket, too.”
Ramos said she will also miss coming to Horace & Dickie’s “because they are like family to me.”
Glenn Casey, a Philadelphian who frequently visits the District, makes it a point to stop by Horace & Dickie’s to eat and lamented its closing.
“I don’t want them to close, it will be a loss,” Casey said. “Horace & Dickie’s is a part of D.C.’s Black culture and the food is great. However, changing Black neighborhoods just isn’t happening in D.C. but Philly also.”
Anwar Saleem, executive director of the H Street Main Street Inc., also expressed concern at the closing of Horace & Dickie’s.
“It is a legacy business,” Saleem said. “I would like to see it continue. I am in the process of talking with Mr. Shannon and George Murray, Horace & Dickie’s property owner. I want to see if there is another location that it could move to, particularly in the area of Benning Road NE and Bladensburg Road NE. It is my understanding that the parking was the problem at Horace & Dickie’s. It’s hard to go buy your food and have to pay for a ticket also.”