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Say it ain’t so, Joe: Cups remains closed

‘Soon’ is one of those subjective terms

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, here in 2019, is one of the Capitol’s biggest Cups fans.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, here in 2019, is one of the Capitol’s biggest Cups fans. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Back in March, Heard on the Hill shared some wonderful news for all the sleep-deprived and caffeine-addicted denizens of Capitol Hill: Cups & Company, the beloved cafe in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building, would reopen in a month.

It was the kind of feel-good story that we love to tell: a short, sweet dash of tonic that lightens the heavy pours of politics and policy that fill most of Roll Call’s pages. Staffers and senators alike tweeted their joy at the news — a welcome sign that the pandemic was ending, nature was healing, normalcy was returning and soon enough, the gossip and lattes would be flowing once more. 

The only problem: Turns out it wasn’t right. Cups didn’t reopen in April, and it’s still closed. What gives?

We based that first report on an email from Kathy Chung, who owns Cups with her husband. “We are planning to reopen on/or early April,” she emailed in response to an inquiry. “We’ll communicate when we reopen.”

When early April came and went, we tried Chung again. “Hopefully soon …” she wrote back on April 14. 

“Soon” is one of those subjective terms that changes depending on the frame of reference. Heard on the Hill gave it a few weeks, but Chung has not responded to our follow-up inquiries (couched, as ever, in well wishes for their speedy and safe return).

So we tried the Architect of the Capitol, the office that oversees contracts with vendors like Cups. A few years back, there was a scare that Cups might not have its lease renewed. Was the lease’s term up again? Had there been some pandemic-related incident giving the AOC the right to end the lease early? Might the AOC be looking for new tenants or renegotiating the lease? 

Nope. “The owners of CUPS have opted to delay reopening until pandemic conditions improve,” the AOC responded in a one-line, unsigned email. 

This is not the first time we got Cups’ reopening date wrong. Back when the coronavirus began to upend nearly every aspect of life in the United States, we reported that Cups was closing because of the pandemic. But the closure was going to be temporary — just a few weeks — and the Chungs planned to reopen again … in early April.  

Mea cuppa.

For the sake of Cups’ many fans, Heard on the Hill will refrain from reporting any more reopening dates until we see Cups shelves being restocked and fridges refilled. 

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