One recent evening, after work, I hungered for some fried chicken and thought I knew where to get some: Popeye's, on the southwest corner of 14th and I streets, where the food surely would be better than the ambience of largely boarded-up porno bars and shops. But the place was dark. Now I know why.

A piece in yesterday's paper recorded the demolition of the row of buildings fronting on 14th Street that included Popeye's. The same story, which said the site will be used for a 12-story office building, related that the area once was classy. Indeed, my Post colleague Don Baker and I both recall hearing Ella Fitzgerald sing, in the early 1950s, in the Blue Mirror, right across the street.

Classy? Yes. Popeye's wasn't always Popeye's. One of Washington's premier menswear shops, D.J. Kaufman Inc., founded in 1897 at 1005 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, established its "uptown" branch in that building in 1930. It was remodeled and enlarged in 1951.

In its day, before Raleighs expanded to chain status and other specialty retailers moved in on the field, Kaufman's was among the leaders. In its later years, the store leaned toward "mod" clothing, alienating traditionalist clients.

Sometime around 1980 -- this newspaper's clipping files give no precise clue -- Kaufman's closed its doors at three locations. So when its 14th Street site fell to the wrecker's ball, it was remembered more for chicken and biscuits than for pinstripes. A Fan's Plates

Vanity automobile license tag spotted in a Virginia suburb:


Obviously a true fan of that wonderful belt-'em-out singer, Barbra Streisan. Gregory Remembered

Here's the naming of a District of Columbia community facility that everyone should enthusiastically support.

At the request of the D.C. Board of Library Trustees, City Council member H.R. Crawford (D-Ward 7) has introduced legislation to name the Fort Davis regional branch library in Southeast for the late Francis Anderson Gregory.

Gregory, who died in 1977, was the chairman of the library board on which he served for 12 years. He was succeeded on the board by his widow Nora, who still serves. Gregory was the assistant superintendent of D.C. schools for industrial and adult education, and was active in educational matters nationally and internationally as a member of boards and study missions.

Moreover, Gregory lived in the Fort Davis area for more than 30 years. A son, reared there, is Col. Frederick Gregory, an astronaut.

A hearing on the renaming is scheduled for May 12 by Crawford's committee, which oversees the public library. But with 11 council cosponsors of the legislation, Crawford foresees no opposition. Partially Named Source

I was startled, and my friend and colleague Bob Levey was startled, when the morning paper arrived yesterday. "Bob Levey's Washington," a mainstay of the paper, was headed simply "Levey's Washington" -- this on the very day when Bob was twitting a reader for calling him "Mr. Robert Levey."

"It was a mistake," Robert C. (Bob) Levey said yesterday. "What more can I say?" Only that the old familiar name should return today. We'll look.