Small businesses throughout Georgetown are feeling the strain of the shaky economy. High business taxes and swelling rents, when added to a sluggish retail market, are forcing many businesses to close their doors for good.
Georgetown will sorely miss Griffin Market, long a central part of the community. Owners Riccardo and Laura Bonino could not afford to continue producing their homemade Italian cuisine and selling their specialty groceries after their rent increased by a jump of 40 percent.
Although the business was successful – the shop regularly ran out of Laura’s daily dinners – customer loyalty was not enough to compensate for the enormous rent-hike. Their doors at 1425 28 Street NW officially closed their doors Feb. 20.
Poppy, a jewelry store which also opened in 2008, will be closing its 3235 P Street NW location and moving its business online. After Feb. 26, the official closing date, renovations will be made for a chocolate shop to move into the space.
Mendocino Grille and Wine Bar at 2917 M Street closed after the Office of Tax and Revenue revoked the restaurant’s sales tax and liquor licenses for their failure to pay about $80,000 in sales taxes. The restaurant, which serves Californian food and wine, may reopen if it can repay its debt in full.
When his lease runs out at the end of March, Mike Johnson, the owner of Sixteen Fifty Nine, a mid-century furniture retailer on Wisconsin Avenue, will close up shop. If he can sell all his merchandise before then with the help of a blow-out sale, he’ll move out earlier. Johnson’s business has been suffering for the past two years due to the tough economy and a dip in his number of customers.
And the late-night haven and breakfast eatery Georgetown Café, 1623 Wisconsin Ave., will also be closing shop, putting many a young man and woman in a tight spot after bars close.
Yet the closing of these stores and the harshness of the economy has not deterred several new, entrepreneurial businesses from setting up shop in Georgetown. Retailers and restaurants from across the country are moving into the spaces that local businesses are leaving behind.
Rag & Bone, a chic, modern sportswear store for men and women will be moving in early this summer, taking the place of what is currently MAC at 3067 M Street.
“Rag & Bone is contemporary and meets the needs of our urban environment,” says Anthony Lanier, president of EastBanc, a D.C.-based commercial and residential investment firm. “Rag & Bone has a great reputation in New York and will do extremely well with Washingtonians and visitors alike to Georgetown.”
Another well-known name from New York, Serendipity 3, will be expanding into the Georgetown neighborhood. The restaurant, famous for its ice cream and multiple appearances on the silver screen, will reportedly open its new location late next month at 3150 M Street NW.
One more sweets shop, this one from California, is putting a Georgetown link in its national chain. Beverly Hills’ Sprinkles Cupcakes will be opening its newest location just three blocks from Georgetown Cupcakes at 3015 M Street NW. If all goes well, the shop will open sometime next month.
Finally, CB2, a modern furniture and home accessory store, will open its doors on 3307 M Street NW this April. A branch of Crate and Barrel, CB2 offers modern décor that’s creative, simple and clever.