Moratorium End Having an Impact?

Liquor

Last year the Georgetown liquor license moratorium came to an end. The hope expressed by those facilitating the change was that it would bring new restaurants better than what we have now. While he agreed that the moratorium should end, GM didn’t think the change would have much of an immediate impact:

Will this have immediate effects in Georgetown? Probably not. High rents will continue to be the primary driver of the collapse in the Georgetown restaurant presence on the main drags of M St. and Wisconsin Ave. But it will bring some predictability to restauranteurs interested in moving into the neighborhoods less in-demand areas. And that predictability will attract more legitimate businesses (as opposed to the squatters who have taken up most of the free licenses over the past five years or so).

There is some evidence, however, that the change has had an effect. Just last week, the former head chef at the decadent Minibar announced plans to open a new restaurant in Georgetown called Reverie. In announcing his plans, Johnny Spero specifically cited the end of the moratorium as a contributing factor. (Fun trivia aside: Spero was replaced at Minibar by Josh Hermias, who previously was the Economic Development Director at the Georgetown BID and who had a big role in pushing for the end of the moratorium.)

And yesterday, Jose Andrés announced plans to move his restaurant America Eats Tavern from Tyson’s Corner to Georgetown next year. The role of the end of the moratorium, however, is less clear with this restaurant. No location has been announced. And the only open location that GM can think of that could hold a restaurant of that size would be the open space in the basement of the Georgetown Park. Geoff Dawson was supposed to open something in that space, but GM hasn’t seen much progress to that end. If that is where America Eats Tavern opens up, the moratorium would have been moot since the Georgetown Park building was always exempt from the moratorium.

Either way, it’s great that Andrés and Spero are coming to Georgetown. If we want to credit the end of the moratorium, that’s fine by GM too.

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