Category Archives: Restaurants

Georgetown 2028

What will Georgetown look like in 2028? More importantly, what do you want it to look like? Wider sidewalks? Easier parking? More restaurants? Better transit? You may soon have the opportunity to answer those questions, and actually have an impact.

Yesterday the Georgetown BID announced an ambitious new effort dubbed “Georgetown 2028”. The project is designed to take a deep look at what the neighborhood needs to do over the next fifteen years to face the challenges of a city growing and changing at an incredibly fast pace.

From the project’s website:

Future Georgetown must compete against new and “coming soon” commercial areas in the District and nearby areas so it remains home to fine dining, distinct retail opportunities, great hotels, and major businesses. Future Georgetown must have the transportation strategies and system to efficiently move people in, out and around. Future Georgetown, as a riverfront neighborhood, must have the forethought to protect itself from the impacts of a changing climate, including rising water levels. It must understand its future infrastructure needs and decide how it wants its public infrastructure to be designed, used, and managed. And finally, future Georgetown will need to manage all these issues as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The effort is a breathtakingly broad look at all the changes that need to be made to the physical and business environment in Georgetown. The project is organized around a task force of business, educational, governmental, and residential representatives (full disclosure: GM is on the task force representing the Citizens Association of Georgetown). Supporting the task force are three working groups addressing, respectively, transportation challenges, economic development, and the public space. Those topics give you a good sense for what sort of broad-based topics the project will consider.

And the project is also very wide-open in terms of solutions. And consistent with that, the project is seeking input from the public. There will be a community engagement meeting on June 13th at 1055 Thomas Jefferson St. at 5:30 to 8:00. There will be a second community engagement meeting in September.

But the input isn’t limited to community meetings. The project has already set up a community engagement website, which allows you to log in and offers your thoughts on what you want to see change about Georgetown over the next 15 years. There’s even a rewards program! Build up 150 points by logging in, referring a friend, and contributing enough ideas and you win a lunch with the BID CEO Joe Sternlieb, during which you can share your thoughts on Georgetown and what ideas you have to make it better.

Basically this is exactly the sort of comprehensive and ambitious planning effort that GM has been calling for for years. GM is absolutely thrilled that it is finally happening, and he’s honored to be taking part.

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Is Georgetown Properly Prepared for the Future of Sweets?

Photo by Stephane ❤.

Over the last eight years or so, Georgetown has really gone whole hog into the sweets business. But can that last?

While mainstay T. Sweets has held down the fort for decades, Georgetown truly began to tie its fortunes to the dessert-trade with the auspicious opening of Georgetown Cupcake in 2008. Between Georgetown Cupcake and Baked and Wired, Georgetown regularly saw one or more of its own on the top of cupcake ratings around town. Not to mention the arrival of the original cupcakery, Sprinkles, a couple years ago. Continue reading

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Irish Pub to Take Over Mei n Yu Space

Update: it’s going to be a Ri Ra.

GM heard a rumor from a reliable source over the weekend that an Irish pub was planning on taking over the old Mei n Yu space on M St. GM did not learn the exact name of the restaurant, but was informed that it was, sadly, a chain.

While pretty much all chain Irish restaurants lack authenticity, at least some aren’t that bad. Ri Ra and Fado’s come to mind. But many are pretty terrible. Just look down Pennsylvania Ave. to McFadden’s (which, when it opened, the owners laughably tried to claim would not become a college bar).

Continue reading

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Czech Yourself

GM was ready to deliver a big scoop about a new restaurant, then he did a little digging and saw that the Georgetowner beat him to it: We’re getting a Czech restaurant. It’ll be called Capitol Prague and it will take over the old Morso space at 3277 M St.

The Georgetowner writes that manager Petra Foist promises “Czech and Slovak cuisine—schnitzel, goulash, braised pork and dumplings—as well as various beers.” GM is particularly interested in that last part. Apparently the restaurant will be the first restaurant to offer Czechvar on tap. For those unfamiliar, Czechvar is the original Budweiser. In fact, in Europe it is sold as Budweiser (and our St. Louis swill is sold as “Bud”). As decided in one of the few cases GM can still remember from law school, Anheuser-Busch successfully kept the Czech brewery from selling its beer here also as Budweiser. Continue reading

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Northern Dessert Desert Soon to be Addressed

GM has long documented the various “dessert deserts” that plague Georgetown. There are some stretches of Wisconsin Ave. or M St. that you have to walk up to a block and a half in order to find ice cream, frozen yogurt or other sweets.

GM has focused mostly on central Georgetown when monitoring this situation. Thus he failed to notice that the northern stretch of Wisconsin in Georgetown is utterly bereft of purveyors of frozen and/or chocolated goods.

Continue reading

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Vote for Georgetown in the Best of DC Poll!

Every year the Washington City Paper conducts a reader poll to find out what the “Best of DC” is. Too often the readers poll ends up only identifying “The most patronized but not really that good” (Seriously, Ledo Pizza for best pizza? Come on.). So lets try to make sure some worthy Georgetown stores or restaurants don’t get overlooked.

So here’s GM’s quick list of Georgetown places he thinks rank among the best in DC in their respective categories. If you agree, go here and enter them in. If you have other ideas, throw them in the comments and try to get some votes headed their way.

There are a ton of categories, but GM’s being brutally honest by sticking to Georgetown places he truly thinks are the best in DC:

Continue reading

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BID Adds Two Exciting Staffers

Yesterday the BID announced the hiring of two exciting new hires. The first is Jonathon Kass as the BID’s new Transportation Director. He comes from the staff of Councilmember Tommy Wells, where he specialized on transportation issues. The second is Josh Hermias, who will be the BID’s new Economic Development Director. He comes most recently from Georgetown University, and before that worked in the District City Administrator’s office and at Brookings.

These hires are exciting for several reasons. This first is that they’re happening in the first place. It’s fantastic that the BID is seriously focusing on these two issues. Transportation and economic development are the two most significant challenges that the Georgetown business community faces over the next 10-20 years. Secondly, this is exciting because both Kass and Hermias bring such heft to the positions. Continue reading

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Where do You Eat Out in Georgetown, and Why?

1500 block of Wisconsin Ave.

After GM’s post yesterday about the amount of restaurant closures last year (and GM just realized he left out Rugby Cafe), a friend reached out and asked for GM’s assistance in starting a conversation with Georgetowners about our restaurants. Specifically, he wanted to know where do Georgetowners actually go out when they go out in Georgetown, and why.

GM can only answer for himself, so here goes: the vast majority of times the reality is that GM and family only go out to restaurants in Georgetown because it’s convenient. As a result, very close-by restaurants like Bonaparte and Los Cuates get selected a lot. But a baby is in tow. It is unlikely GM and wife would stick around Georgetown if a baby-sitter has been hired for the night. When that happens they high-tailed it for U St. or H St. NE. Continue reading

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2012 Was Rough on Georgetown Restaurants

Photo by NCinDC.

Every February, GM conducts a census, of sorts, of all the stores in Georgetown. He gathers the information and tabulates out various facets of the data to produce his annual State of Georgetown articles.

This is not that. (GM hasn’t had the time yet to do his census, but it should be within the next week or so).

But what GM can already tell before walking the streets is that 2012 was rough on Georgetown restaurants. Continue reading

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Two New Liquor Licenses Demonstrate Failed Policy

 

In June of 2010, ABRA released seven new liquor licenses into the Georgetown moratorium zone. This move was done to inject some life back into the Georgetown restaurant scene. Two years later, though, and we can see this was a failed policy.

There were several justifications given for adding licenses to the moratorium limit. On top of a desire to inject some life, the powers that be realized that since the beginning of the moratorium in Georgetown, seven licenses had been canceled. So we could add seven without exceeding the total that existed at the time the moratorium was created. Also, there was a recognition that getting a liquor license was a strong disincentive to new restaurants opening in Georgetown. Due to the moratorium, they were forced to buy the license off one of the license holders who were no longer using theirs. The going price for a license was in the high five figures. This action would provide new licenses without that ridiculous mark-up.

Seven entities jumped on the new licenses. However, this is what happened with them:

  • Bills Bar and Burger – Was supposed to go into the old Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory building. Never did.
  • Zenobia Lounge – Coffee shop wanted to sell liquor. After obtaining license, they decided they didn’t want to live with the restrictions so they stopped selling liquor.
  • Tacklebox – Jonathan Umbel had been trying for years to get a liquor license for this restaurant. He finally did.
  • Puro Cafe – Another restaurant that was already open.
  • Hu’s Wear – The owners of Hu’s Shoes said they wanted to open a restaurant where Bartleby Books used to be. The bookstore was kicked out; the restaurant never moved in.
  • International House of Ping Pong – This was supposed to be a ping pong-themed restaurant in 1010 Wisconsin Ave. It never opened.
  • Paul Bakery – This restaurant was planned but not opened when they obtained the license.

So three restaurants were already open and one was going to open regardless. Three never opened. And of the three that never opened, despite never once selling a single beer, the owners still get to keep the licenses for as long as they pay the annual fee (Zenobia’s owners also get to keep their license). At around $1,000, it’s not a trivial annual fee but it’s a small price to pay to maintain an asset that could be worth up to $100,000 to the right buyer. Continue reading

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