What Georgetowners Want

What a Georgetowner wants, what a Georgetowner needs? What makes them happy and sets them free? These questions, give or take, were the heart of a survey conducted by the Georgetown BID last fall. And the results are in: Georgetowners wants basically what you’d think they want.

Here’s the presentation given to this week’s ANC meeting summarizing the results:

Overall the picture is clear: Georgetowners want more shops and restaurants that cater to residents. The most popular shop or restaurant among the respondents was Martin’s. This is the archetypical neighborhood-serving pub. It’s small and slightly removed from the high bustle of M St. So despite its tourist appeal, locals still visit it often.

Curiously second on the list is TJ Maxx, which is categorically about as far away from Martin’s as you could be. This obviously speaks to a revealed preference for basic staples at affordable prices. Imagine how well a Target could do?Georgetowners also want more hip restaurants like those that seem to open up weekly in places like Shaw or Petworth. But they also want them neighborhood serving. Which is a bit of a conflicting desire. The fact is that restaurants will never be perceived as hip if they primarily target those from close by. That doesn’t speak at all to the quality of the restaurant, just the perception. So what is it that Georgetowners want? A top quality restaurant that draws people from across the city, and is thus by definition not very neighborhood serving, or a more affordable, less highly rated restaurant where you can always get a table?

The last thing that is interesting is to see how many Georgetowners want more bars. While the liquor license moratorium has gone away (thank God), there’s still a hard cap on the number of tavern licenses allowed. And it takes a tavern license to run a straight bar (the other option, a restaurant license, requires the establishment to make most of its money from food, which rules out straight bars, even if they offer some bar food.) And most residents (save the students) don’t really lament the loss of all the old college bars like Rhino Bar or Garrett’s. Again the model seems to be Martin’s, maybe with fewer booths. But even if the liquor license wasn’t the issue, would Georgetowners really happily welcome a classic bar? GM’s not so sure.

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