WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new coffee shop — 39 Steps Coffee Haus — with ties to Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil is coming to Audi Field this fall. The shop is the first of many retail stores that will move in under the stadium and across the street in the quickly-developing Buzzard Point neighborhood.
“Our expectations are to open the coffee shop in 2019 and hopefully before the season ends sometime in October,” D.C. United senior vice president of business Sam Porter told Pro Soccer USA. “Sometimes these things take longer, but that is our hope.”
The storefront recently saw a boost in attention thanks to one of its owners, Özil, an international soccer-playing superstar who has been linked with a move to United.
Coffee doesn’t confirm a move for Özil
Earlier this week, United fans were left stunned by the news that captain Wayne Rooney opted out of the final year of his contract with United to join EFL Championship side Derby County in 2020.
Less than 24 hours later, news broke that Özil’s representative will meet with United officials this week, as reported first by The Washington Post and The Athletic. While there is a chance for Özil to come to United to play, his coffee shop’s future is much more certain. The representatives will use the time in D.C. to discuss moving forward with 39 Steps Coffee Haus at Audi Field.
Özil was in the U.S. earlier this summer, playing in preseason exhibitions with Arsenal in the International Champions Cup, including a stop in D.C.
He is currently under contract with Arsenal until June 2021. Under that contract, the former German international receives £350,000 a week in the English Premier League. It would take a big offer to get a player with that size wages to the nation’s capital in the middle of his contract.
Any move involving the 30-year-old Özil isn’t likely until next summer at the earliest, one source told Pro Soccer USA. The team does not comment on players under contract, United general manager Dave Kasper said.
For now, fans will have to settle for Özil’s coffee to warm them up this October and hope the team heats up as well.
39 Steps Coffee Haus is coming to the United States
39 Steps Coffee Haus currently has four locations, all in London, England, where Özil plays. The Audi Field location will be the first move abroad for the shop but not the first time in a soccer stadium. There is currently a location in Suite 140 of Arsenal’s home, Emirates Stadium.
A few months ago, maroon-colored paper quietly appeared under the “Bike Valet powered by Lime” sign located on the southwest corner of Audi Field. The white text on it read “39 Steps Coffee Haus Coming Soon.” The minimalist design was discreet enough to go mostly unnoticed as United hosted games on the other side of the wall.
The coffee shop is in the final stages of preparation before furnishing, with the goal to open in the fall, but it won’t be limited to just United game days. The hope is to provide coffee, juice and other amenities to the area. The land around Audi Field is a fast-evolving construction site next to U.S. Army Base Fort McNair. The closest coffee shops are either a mile east at the Department of Transportation or a mile northwest.
“We felt like this area of the city is developing really quickly, but there is not a lot of basic businesses there,” Porter said. “I don’t know about 365 days a year, but we see it open pretty consistently on non-match days and becoming part of the neighborhood and the city.”
United is currently working with development company PN Hoffman to bring commercial development to the east side of the stadium and the land adjacent to Audi Field, Porter said. PN Hoffman is also responsible for developing upscale renovations to the nearby Wharf neighborhood.
Originally, United considered several options for providing coffee to the MLS stadium, including national chains and local brews. After a few trips to London, and mutual interest, 39 Steps Coffee Haus eventually became the front-runner.
“The soccer world is not huge when you start talking to people and getting to know people,” Porter said.