The Town & Country Market convenience store at 823 Upshur Street closed in January for renovations. Owner Teshome Chekole (everyone calls him "T") told me that the time had come to update the store, given the changes along Upshur Street and in Petworth over the past few years. The store reopened on Monday.
"The community is changing, so the style of the store is changing," Teshome said to me in January.
A fresh coat of blue paint on the brick outside is the least of the changes. Gone are the placards all over the windows and the inch-thick plexiglass booth at the front, blocking the windows. New drywall, a new ceiling with new lights and security cameras, along with new wood fixtures, open up the space for more merchandise and a brighter and much more inviting experience.
Inside the updated Town & Country you'll find a nice collection of wines from around the world, particularly France and Argentina. The food on the shelves has changed, from no-name to better known brands like Carrs and Garden of Eatin'. The new refrigerated cabinets offer a very large assortment of beer, from home-grown favorite DC Brau to ciders, craft brews and popular brands like Dos Equis, Guinness and Budweiser. A soon-to-be-delivered freezer will offer ice cream like Ben & Jerry's and other frozen treats.
If you're looking for Sabra red pepper hummus, goat cheese, Applegate provolone, pretzel crackers and yes, even a bottle of Manischewitz concord grape wine (next to the MD 20/20) or a can of pork and beans, Town & Country has you covered.
Teshome said he wants to change his alcohol license so that he can add liquor to the store, but to do so, he needs neighbors to sign a petition on his behalf. (The change requires a petition to be submitted to ABRA.) He said he's asked ANC Commissioner John-Paul Hayworth for help, so hopefully that change will happen in the upcoming months.
The store is a family business, one they've owned for 13 years (the store itself is over 30 years old). Teshome invested more than $25,000 of his family's own money on the renovations and improvements to the store. He said they're still stocking the shelves and are awaiting more shelving for wine, so don't be surprised if you walk in and find empty shelves. "It'll probably take about two more weeks to get fully stocked," he told me. He's hoping the changes encourage both long-time and newly arrived residents to shop at his store.
While I was there talking with Teshome, two older residents came in at different times and said almost the exact same thing, "Oh, I'm so glad you're open again! I missed this place."
Related: Changes at Town & Country Market reflect changes to the neighborhood (Jan 17, 2016)
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