Photo by Wally Gobetz.
It’s not the first time a Georgetown restaurant has been unwittingly caught up in a national debate (do a Lexis-Nexis search for Cafe Milano) and it’s probably not the last, but last Friday Filomena was momentarily drawn into the Obamacare wars.
It started with a Prince of Petworth post reporting on the restaurant’s announcement to end its Friday lunch buffet. A sign on the door stated, in part:
As of January, 1, 2014, Filomena has discontinued its Friday Lunch Buffet. We regret we had to make this decision but unfortunately we face new expenses as a result of the Healthcare reform and the Friday Buffet, though wonderful, was not profitable and required extra staff which we can no longer sustain. We regret any inconvenience and on a good note, we will continue our Saturday Buffet and invite you to try our much improved Sunday Brunch Buffet!
Since it appeared that the Affordable Care Act was driving this decision, the conservative rag the Daily Caller jumped at the chance to point out that Obamacare was crimping Bill Clinton’s favorite restaurant. Which, truth be told, is a fair conclusion based upon the sign’s language.
But many started to question the stated rationale. For one, the requirement that a business like Filomena provide health insurance has been deferred for a year. Slate writer Matthew Yglesias pointed out this inconsistency and concluded that the reason Filomena was ending an unprofitable lunch buffet was because it was unprofitable.
Soon, however, Filomena responded to the controversy and issued this clarification:
Even though the Health Care Reform employer mandate of 50 or more employees had to be offered healthcare coverage was postponed one year, Filomena decided to offer that coverage, this year, 2014 and not wait until 2015 as most restaurants have done. We want to offer coverage to our employees but honestly have to find new ways to pay for it since we are so labor intense (close to 90 employees for 150 seat restaurant). Continue reading
As GM mentioned last week, Carol Joynt has the scoop on yet another revamp of Georgetown’s Marvelous Market. She writes:
The Georgetown location of Marvelous Market will be “revamped,” [store-owner] Thompson says, adding that there are 10 to 15 years remaining on the lease. “We plan to do some different things with the menu. We’re looking at bringing in a salad station, a pizza station.” The location already has a wine license, and Thompson mentions also procuring a liquor license. “We’ve got some good ideas about what we could do with that property,” he says, including a “wine garden,” but “we are constrained by local ordinances.”
Marvelous Market seems to undergo these sorts of revamps every few years. GM distinctly remembers them having pizza some ways back. And a retread is probably not what this space needs.
But it is true that the space has a ton of potential if they could just find the right operator, which they are seeking. GM would love (love) to see Jamie Stachowski expand his butcher shop here. A true farmers market, like Smuckers Farms on 14th St., would also be welcome. So too would a wider selection of craft beer. Continue reading
Ever since Cannons Seafood closed for unspecified medical problems a few months ago, GM has heard rumors that the closure wasn’t temporary but permanent. Sadly, Carol Joynt verified the rumor yesterday. She writes on her Washingtonian blog:
Bobby Moore contacted Washingtonian to announce he’s decided to close the business for good and lease the space to his 31st Street next-door neighbor, Il Canale Italian restaurant…Moore, 47, says the “medical reasons” are simple wear and tear on his body…He says he sat down to discuss it with his family recently, and they decided to “close [the restaurant] altogether.”
This is a sad day for Georgetown. Moore’s family has owned and run Cannon’s since it opened in 1937. After a time operating at the old Georgetown Market (now occupied by Dean and Deluca), Moore’s father bought the current building on 31st St. in 1966. So with the store’s closure, Georgetown is not just losing its only fish monger, it’s losing one of its last long-term family owned businesses. (The only ones left that GM can think of are the resilient Phoenix, owned and run by Betsy and Bill Hays since 1955 and Martin’s, owned and operated by the Martin family since 1933.) Continue reading
Sometimes when you get too focused on the influx of large national chains into Georgetown, it’s easy to overlook how much Georgetown has served as a successful business incubator over the years.
The most obvious recent example is, of course, Georgetown Cupcake. Started in a small shop on Potomac St. in 2008, the company is now an indestructible national force. But it’s not the only business to make a splash after getting its first foothold in Georgetown.
Sweet Green was founded by some young Georgetown grads just a few months before and located in an old Little Tavern just two blocks west. Unlike the publicity-seeking Georgetown Cupcake, Sweet Green has quietly grown to 20 locations from here to Boston.
Dolcezza is another Georgetown-born success story. They still make quarts and quarts of the region’s best gelato in the basement of their Wisconsin Ave. location. (The production will soon shift to the ultra-hip Union Market, at which point, sadly, they possibly might close the Georgetown location.) Continue reading
It sure doesn’t feel like it, but it’s been technically fall for several weeks. A cold front is supposed to finally push out this muggy weather tomorrow and it will begin to feel like the season it is.
But before Mother Nature does her thing, it’s a good time to sit back and consider what changes may be coming to Georgetown over the coming months. Here’s a list that GM came up with, let him know if he missed anything:
- Pinstripes: The new bowling alley-cum-fine Italian restaurant is tentatively aiming for a November opening. GM has been a big fan of this project since it was first announced, and he looks forward to many frames in the future. Continue reading
Every February, GM performs a census of commercial stores in Georgetown, tracking what opened, what closed, and what moved. He does this by simply walking up and down the streets (why he chose the coldest moth to do this outdoor exercise, who knows). Some interesting data comes out of this annual report.
Well the BID just release a report on the state of Georgetown that blows GM’s completely out of the water. It was produced by the recently expanded staff at the BID in part to facilitate the Georgetown 2028 process. GM has only started to absorb it, but it is an incredibly dense report with data GM could only dream about pulling together. And it’s beautifully presented as well.
The report is embedded below, but here are some interesting findings:
- There are almost 11,500 jobs in the Georgetown commercial district, with another 10,000 jobs at GU and the hospital. This results in a job density of about 60,000 per square mile, or about what you see in Dupont Circle or the Rosslyn-Balston corridor.
- About a third of the jobs are office workers, a little less than a third work in hotels or restaurants, and about 14% work in retail.
- There are 461 buildings along M and Wisconsin, comprising over 2.2 million square feet of rentable space.
- There are only 5 LEED certified spaces in Georgetown, compared with 349 for the rest of DC.
- The waterfront ice rink attracted 45,000 skaters last winter, twice the forecast.
GM could go on, but take a look yourself. It’s awesome, and the staff of the BID, particularly Josh Hermias the Economic Development Director, should be congratulated:
Photo by WCP.
Dolcezza, long ranked among the best gelato shop in DC, was founded in Georgetown in 2003. But it may soon be leaving the neighborhood.
The uncertainty is from what it otherwise great news: Dolcezza is moving its production facilities from the basement of its Georgetown store to Union Market, the trendy new market in Ward 5. According to Eater DC:
A gelato tasting room, a coffee lab and a bar will all be a part of the gelato factory that Dolcezza is building near Union Market at 550 Penn St. NE….The 4,000 square foot warehouse (it used to be a wholesale flower market) will be the new home base for the D.C. company, which has been expanding throughout the area. The tasting room’s bar will seat 20 people, and tastings will be available between noon and 7 p.m. each day — customers will get the chance to sample gelato flavors as Dolcezza is trying them out.
This is great to see a home grown Georgetown store grow and succeed like this. But what will happen to the original location? Continue reading
GM moved to DC in 1999, a couple months after graduating from college. A child of the pre-Internet world, GM looked to the bookstore for information about his new home. With the magic of time, this dog-eared book is now a time capsule for turn-of-this-century Washington.
And what does this time capsule have to say about Georgetown? Most of what was open is no more. Of the nineteen restaurants it recommends, only five remain open. Here’s how it describes some of the dearly departed:
- Hibiscus Cafe ($$) – 3401 K St.”Nouvelle Caribbean cuisine with unusual mints, spices, and sauces” with “a 3 ft. can opener hanging from the ceiling” [You could still see the mural for Hibiscus Cafe until relatively recently, when Malmaison painted over it]
- Furin’s ($$) – “You could make most of the food yourself, if you had the inclination to whip up pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, salads, or spoil-the-kids-rotten slabs of cake.” [Soon to be Chophouse]
- The Little Cafe ($) – “Small cafe with Mediterranean flavor” [Now Waterworks in Cady's Alley]
Last year Georgetown continued to grow out of the Great Recession downturn. But one notable exception was the restaurant scene. Between the beginning of 2012 and 2013, there was a net loss of 15 restaurants in Georgetown. While we probably haven’t made up all that loss, recently we’ve made up a lot of it and will gain even more soon.
This year has seen a bunch of new restaurants open here. Here are the ones GM could think of in no particular order:
- Capitol Prague (and cafe)
- Rye Bar
- the Grill Room (both of these are in the new Capella hotel)
- Good Stuff Eatery
- Noodles and Co.
- Kintaro (in the old J. Chocolatier space) Continue reading
In 2005, just below M St. on 33rd, the charming Chez Mama San restaurant opened. It offered a Japanese spin on European dishes (hence the bilingual name). Despite receiving mostly good reviews, the owners of the restaurant, Izumi and Miki Yoshimoto, decided to close a few years later. Keeping the upstairs space as a gallery for Miki’s art, the first floor was converted to J. Chocolatier.
Sadly J. Chocolatier decided to close up shop several months ago. The upshot is that we get a nice Japanese restaurant back. Early this month, Kintaro quietly opened up. GM hasn’t had a chance to try it out yet, but Yelp reviews look pretty good so far. Continue reading