Credit: Domku

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Petworth’s Upshur Street has become a mini dining destination in recent years with the arrivals of Twisted Horn, Petworth Citizen, Slash Run, and others.

But before any of those places, there was Domku.

The city’s first Scandinavian and Slavic restaurant will close at the end of June after a nearly 12-year run.

In a note posted on Facebook, owner Kera Carpenter blames “the landlord’s unwillingness to negotiate down from a 66% increase in rent on the new lease.”

“It’s not a new story. It’s happened to other people many times. The person who takes the risk and becomes the pioneer in an under-developed area doesn’t always get to see the benefit of all that,” Carpenter tells Y&H.

Operating a restaurant in Petworth has been a struggle since Domku opened more than a decade ago, she adds, although it’s helped to have new restaurant neighbors. “It’s kind of limped along for 12 years, and my hope was that when Petworth developed, it would pay off, but I guess that’s not what’s going to happen… Petworth is not a neighborhood that’s there yet.”

Carpenter also closed her French-inspired cafe, Nurish Food + Drink, in Anacostia in November. It was one of very few sit-down restaurants in Ward 8. 

The restaurateur isn’t sure of her next move: “I’m not really thinking anything other than I need to find a job.” At this point, she’s not even sure if she would open another business in D.C.

“The real estate prices are out of control, obviously,” she says. “And it’s just me. I don’t have a pool of investors. I’m not a millionaire restaurateur… If I do this again, it’s going to be in another city that’s a little cheaper to deal with.”

Read Carpenter’s full Facebook note below:

Domku is closing its doors at the end of June due to the landlord’s unwillingness to negotiate down from a 66% increase in rent on the new lease. While this is extremely sad for me, I am also extremely proud of the role this business has played in the nearly 12 years of a changing Petworth. I am grateful for the many friends I’ve made here, honored to have been part of your lives, and privileged to have been accepted and supported by so many loyal customers. While this is sudden and upsetting, I hope that we can also celebrate all that has been accomplished here. Even after all these years, there is nowhere else in DC like Domku. We hope we will see you all many times over in the course of the final weeks so that we can say our good-byes.#petworthdc #upshurstreetnw #domku