Via Umbria to Pop Up in Former Tari Space

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Via Umbria owners Bill and Suzy Menard at their new Georgetown store. | Bill and Suzy Menard

Authentic culture and cuisine from the Umbria region of Italy is coming to Georgetown in form of Via Umbria, which moved into the old Tari space.

Via Umbria will open its doors Sept. 27 initially as a pop-up shop with the full store and gallery experience to occur this spring.

Located at 1525 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Via Umbria will feature four main businesses, the emporio (the shop), vino (wine), casa (the rental villa in Umbria) and galleria (events and gallery space).

Owners Bill and Suzy Menard spent a semester in Umbria, when they were students, and fell in love with the region. They have returned dozens of times since. Inspired by their trips to Italy, the couple opened Bella Italia, a shop in Bethesda, that offers authentic Italian products.

Then, the Menards decided to relocate to Georgetown with a new name to develop their concept even further.

“We closed on the purchase of a new home for the new Bella Italia. . . . 1525 Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown,” the Menards wrote on their blog. “The purchase has been months – nearly a year – in the making. To say we’re excited would be an understatement worthy of Guinness.”

In 2008, the Menards purchased a rustic farmhouse villa in Cannara in Umbria, starting a rental and tour business. In 2013, the couple began importing wines from vineyards near by the rental villa.

The second floor of Via Umbria will be a gallery event space to expand the store into a cultural center. Guests are invited to attend events, such as tastings, classes and exhibits and to join book club. Friends of Bill and Suzy, such as chefs, winemakers and artisans from Umbria, will frequently be invited to host demonstrations, hands-on workshops and tastings.

Also, there are plans for a cheese counter, an area for cured meats and coffee bar with tasty dry goods.

Via Umbria’s website is still under construction and will be up and running in early October.

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