Phyllis Skipwith works behind the counter at Horace and Dickies, a takeout place near H Street owned by Dickie Shannon.
“I want to put a feed for news, one for sports,” he said.
Overall, though, Horace and Dickie’s is still a throwback. And regardless of the direction the neighborhood takes, Shannon plans on being around for a while.
“I don’t have to do this; I do this because I like it,” he said.
He’s concerned about the fabric of the neighborhood and unintended consequences of runaway growth.
“A lot of people in the neighborhood, they’ll either be taxed out or moved to sell,” he said. “The biggest difference between 1990 and now is the gentrification. ... Property values have just skyrocketed. It doesn’t seem like the housing bubble burst affected property values here at all. I don’t think it’s sustainable.”
So in a city defined in part by change — in occupants of the Capitol and White House, especially — Horace and Dickie’s is a place of constancy for a transient city.
“It’s not in exactly the same category, but it’s similar to Ben’s Chili Bowl,” Wells said, pointing out that both establishments held on in rough times.
For Ben’s, it was the riots. For Horace and Dickie’s, it was hangover from the crack epidemic and a long winter of neglect that followed.
Unprompted, Ricks also compared Shannon’s establishment to the venerable U Street institution. “He’s sort of the Ben’s Chili Bowl of H Street,” she said.
Both places certainly have their claim to a good local dish, although Shannon discounts that thesis.
“D.C. food is a variety of food. I don’t think there is any such thing” as a local specialty, he said.
But get enough tourists from California, and people might start identifying the fried whiting sandwich as quintessentially D.C.