A new 7-Eleven convenience store is taking shape along Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase at the former site of the popular Chevy Chase Lounge.
A block and a half away, construction continues on the new home of the relocated Chevy Chase Lounge, which is scheduled to reopen for business next month after a five-month hiatus.
The fate of the neighborhood bar became a neighborhood cause celebre a year ago when owners Mary and Gary Kinsey decided to leave their location at 5600 Connecticut Ave. NW after the building changed hands and the new owner proposed increasing rents in the building by 300 percent.
The Kinseys had hoped to move to their new location at 5534 Connecticut Ave. with no disruption in service, but, "We had to wait for permits and we had to redo the whole kitchen," Mary Kinsey explained.
The lounge closed in May. "It was a financial burden," she said. "We had a business set up that we could have sold for a lot of money." But the new place has one advantage. "We picked up about 10 seats," she said.
Meanwhile, the lounge's old address is undergoing substantial renovations to accommodate a 7-Eleven. "We're making quite a few changes on the exterior, as well as the interior," said Robin Young, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven. It's a smaller store than we're used to," she said. "We're projecting that it will open in February or March of '85."
James Molloy, president of the Chevy Chase Foundation, said that although "we never like to see an old establishment firm move out" such as the Chevy Chase Lounge, 7-Eleven has promised to decorate tastefully. "We don't like the 24-hour part but I hope we can live with it," referring to the fact that some 7-Eleven stores are open 24 hours a day.
The foundation, founded by Molloy about six years ago, raises funds by soliciting neighbors and businesses and uses the money primarily to beautify the neighborhood shopping strip along Connecticut Avenue from Chevy Chase Circle south to Livingston Street.
Some Chevy Chase residents had strenuously opposed a proposal to rent the former address of the lounge to a Roy Rogers restaurant; that proposal was withdrawn. The coming of the 7-Eleven prompted few community objections.
When the 7-Eleven representatives met with the community in June to unveil plans for the new store, only about 80 people showed up -- compared to almost 400 that had attended an earlier meeting with representatives from Roy Rogers, said Lee Schoenecker, president of the Chevy Chase Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
"It was not a volatile meeting," said Schoenecker recalling the disputes that punctuated the meeting with Roy Rogers. "I was scared to death of the meeting, but I was surprised at how little opposition there was."
He attributed to lack of opposition to the 7-Eleven plans that call for putting the store within the existing space. Plans for the Roy Rogers called for enlarging the space.