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Horace and Dickies‘ 30-year run on H Street NE will come to an end on March 1. Richard “Dickie” Shannon, who is 82, owns the carry-out specializing in fried fish sandwiches and homey sides. In an interview with WJLA—which broke the news Tuesday—Shannon attributed the closure to the pressures of gentrification in the neighborhood that has seen a boom in trendy bars, restaurants, fitness studios, and apartment buildings with rooftop pools. Specifically, Shannon told WJLA the closure was due to the “landlord wanting the property [back].”
Shannon’s daughter, Simone Shannon, doesn’t discount that gentrification is a relentless force, but she also says the closure “is a long time coming” and thinks the time has come for her father to retire. “The neighborhood, it’s changed,” she says. “Everybody sees that. A lot of those neighbors, they don’t really want Horace and Dickies there anymore.”
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen calls Horace and Dickies an “institution,” telling City Paper, “there’s no way to sugarcoat news of their closure—it’s a loss for the community today and a loss connecting the neighborhood to its past.”
Taking stock of the rapid-fire closures of beloved business across the city, Allen and Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who chairs the Committee on Business and Economic Development, introduced bills that would provide resources to long-time businesses serving changing neighborhoods.
The Longtime Resident Business Preservation Act focuses on grants, low-interest loans, and rent stabilization payments covering up to 10 percent of a long-standing business’ rent, while the Small and Local Business Assistance Amendment Act hones in on a tax credit, based on rent or property taxes, of up to $10,000 for small businesses.
“I can’t say for certain if these bills would have changed the fate of Horace and Dickies—the District can’t tell landlords what to do with their space—but I can say it is exactly the kind of business we were thinking of when we introduced these bills,” Allen says.
Fortunately, Simone, 58, and her 30-year-old daughter Simone “Monie” Shannon, will keep the brand alive. They operate two food trucks and a brick-and-mortar restaurant on 4th Street NW in Takoma, which opened eight years ago.
The Shannon family hails from New Jersey. Dickie moved to the D.C. area 50 years ago and Simone followed 30 years ago for a job at a law firm. It wasn’t her calling. Just as Simone was contemplating her next career move in her late 20s, she fell seriously ill and required a liver transplant.
While she waited, she worked a couple days a week for her father at the Horace and Dickies on H Street NE. Eventually she decided she saw a future for herself at the restaurant. “I’m going to stay here and work beside him and learn the business,” she says. “I come from a cooking background. My grandmother owned a restaurant. I was raised in a restaurant, basically. That was the perfect fit.”
After about 20 years of working with her father, Simone wanted a Horace and Dickies of her own. “I had to make some hard decisions and that was a hard decision,” she says. The news, she says, was initially difficult for her father. She believes he came around to it.
Takoma’s Horace and Dickies has a more robust menu and tables for dining in. Yes, you can still get their signature fried whiting sandwich, but there’s also a grilled salmon salad, crab cake sandwiches, and New Orleans-inspired gumbo. She tests out dishes like shrimp and grits and fish tacos on the food trucks before adding them to the restaurant menu. “I get so many requests for the gumbo,” Simone says. “I put it on two years ago and now everybody calls and asks if we have it.”
Simone attributes her eight-year run on a retail strip that faces struggles to the consistency of the cooking. “Without that people are going to ride past,” she says. “The location that I’m in, everybody would come in and they’d always ask, ‘How long are you going to be here?’ Every business that comes here is here for a year and then they’re gone. I know that the name Horace and Dickies helped me tremendously.”
Takoma is also a changing neighborhood, especially with the Whole Foods that’s coming to the Parks at Walter Reed development less than a mile away from Horace and Dickies. “It’s kind of sad because Takoma was known for being a quiet little historical district, but I see it changing,” Simone says. “At the end of the day, money rules everything.”
The intersection where Horace and Dickies is located (6912 4th St. NW) is currently under construction that should last until early March. It’s hurt business so much that Simone has cut daytime hours. Currently Horace and Dickies is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. On Fridays, they open at 11 a.m. and on Saturdays they open at 12:30 p.m. Weekday lunch hours will return once construction is complete.
As far as her father, Simone suspects he’ll spend his days helping his wife run the Camp Springs, Maryland Horace and Dickies. “I think he’ll hop between there and Langston Golf Course,” she says. “He needs to kick back, play golf, and do what he wants to do. He’s saying other things, but I know he needs to be done and enjoy the rest of the days that he’s given.”
City Paper reached out to Dickie Shannon for comment. This story will be updated if he gets in touch.