DC’s Safeway Nicknames: Do They Still Apply?

dc / safeway / shopping   Posted on Oct 7, 2011 by Darin Senneff

If you’ve spent any time living in DC, you know that the District is populated with more Safeway grocery stores than any other supermarket chain. You probably also know that many of these Safeways have garnered various nicknames throughout the years as a way to identify (and poke fun at) which store you’re speaking about.

But, are these nicknames still appropriate? Neighborhoods change, buildings get renovated, and new developments pop up. Could this mean that some of these nicknames no longer apply? Let’s look at some of the District’s fine Safeway stores and see for ourselves.


The “Social” Safeway

Georgetown (1855 Wisconsin Ave, NW; S & Wisconsin, NW)

The “Social” Safeway (also sometimes referred to as the “Singles” Safeway) got its moniker due to the fact that it was a known as a mythical location for Georgetown’s singles to meet and exchange glances while doing their evening shopping.

The original “Social” Safeway closed down in favor of a gigantic, new building that opened in 2010, so I can’t vouch for the magic of the old location next door. I did visit the shiny new Safeway earlier this year on a weeknight and found more than a fair share of Georgetown students and young professionals doing their shopping. I didn’t personally use this to my advantage (I’m more into the 7-11 crowd), but the talent indeed was there if you happened to be on the prowl. I say the nickname is appropriate, “Social” Safeway it is.


The “Soviet” Safeway

Dupont Circle (1701 Corcoran St, NW; 17th & Corcoran, NW)

The “Soviet” Safeway has a reputation for long lines and empty shelves, so it makes logical sense. I visit this Safeway about once a month when I’m passing by, and I can say that the nickname is pretty fair.

If you happen to visit the store on a night before a food delivery, the shelves will most likely be fairly sparse. I’ve heard that this is due to both the size of the building (small shelves mean less stock), and the fact that the loading dock/stockroom is too undersized to allow efficient delivery and restocking. And, not only are the shelves small, the aisles are insanely narrow, meaning there are traffic jams and lines all around the store. The “Soviet” Safeway lives on.


The “Sixties” Safeway

Petworth (3830 Georgia Ave, NW; Georgia & Randolph, NW)

I used to frequent this store regularly when I lived in the north end of Columbia Heights, and it fits the place to a “T.” Simply driving by on Georgia Ave, you will notice that the building looks as if it has not been updated since, well, the 60’s.

The arched roof, old-school signage, and dated windows and exterior make this Safeway appear to have been transported off of a movie set. The “Sixties” Safeway still holds up.


The “Spanish” Safeway

Adams Morgan (1747 Columbia Rd, NW; Columbia & Ontario, NW)

I’ve also heard this Safeway called the “Salsa” Safeway, but I think it’s pretty self-explanatory why it’s gotten these nicknames. The Adams Morgan & Mt. Pleasant area has a large Hispanic community, with Salvadoran, Mexican, and Peruvian, among others. So, it made sense that this store was dubbed the “Spanish” Safeway because for years, one could visit this particular store and hear Spanish being spoken throughout. I’ve also heard that there is even an entire aisle stocked with nothing but Virgin Mary statues and other Catholic paraphernalia.

The store recently underwent a huge remodel, with a shiny new exterior and interior. Even though this is the closest Safeway to my current apartment, I rarely go in here (due to Harris Teeter being 1 block closer), but I do walk past almost daily and notice the sidewalks full of Hispanics. Some things never change.


The “Un” Safeway

Capital Hill (415 14th St, SE; 14th & D, SE)

Also sometimes called the “Not-So” Safeway, I’ve also heard this nickname used for a Safeway in NE DC, but I believe it’s most-commonly associated with this Capital Hill location. The “Un” Safeway gets its reputation from being in an unsavory neighborhood with frequent crimes being committed, and bullets whizzing by shoppers’ heads. Truth is, that’s most-likely more myth than fact, but us yuppies like to exaggerate stories of brushes with danger, especially now that the neighborhood is becoming more gentrified.

Whether shoppers really do dodge bullets or not in the present-day in this location, this Safeway has actually had numerous critical health department violations over the past few years, which doesn’t exactly scream safe to me. No matter which way you want to look at it, I think “Un” Safeway seems pretty applicable.


The “Senior” Safeway

Foggy Bottom (2550 Virginia Ave, NW; Inside the Watergate complex)

Apparently, the regular clientele of this Safeway are the elderly. Old people, for the layman. I’ve personally only been inside this location one time, but now that I think about it, there was a handful of elderly couples in there. Coincidence? I think not.

Realistically, the Watergate complex contains many units of apartments and condos that are senior-friendly, so it’s a fair assumption that many of these residents would do their shopping downstairs at the Safeway. With its proximity to George Washington University, the store probably attracts many college students doing their shopping runs of Hot Pockets and Easy Mac. We all know how much the elderly creep out college kids, so the “Senior” Safeway nickname seems plausible.


The “Swanky” Safeway

SW Waterfront (401 M St, SW; 4th & M, SW)

This Safeway recently opened earlier in 2011, garnering the nickname the “Swanky” Safeway due to its shiny, modern exterior. I’ve never visited this Safeway, though have seen many photos, and can attest that the nickname fits.

However, the Yelp and Google reviews for the store tell a story of dangerous area along with surly staff. The surrounding neighborhood is still on its way up, with new developments popping up as the area starts to gentrify, so this could still turn out to be a very nice store in the next few years. For now, the luster of the exterior is enough to hold the “Swanky” nickname that its been given.


Have you heard of other alternative names for these stores? Have I left anything off? Let us know in the comments!

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