In Case You Missed It: Business News Over Summer

Free People opened; Benetton closed after almost 30 years in the Washington area.

In case you missed it over the summer, here are some of the recent entries for Business Ins & Outs as well as other business updates.

IN: Boho Chic Clothing Store, Free People, Opens

Free People, a Bohemian chic-inspired apparel and retail store that sells women’s clothing and accessories, opened its first store in Washington, D.C. – at 3009 M St., NW – on Aug. 21. The airy four-level store (an addition was built in the back alley) offers free-flowing dresses, shoes and other accessories. Owned by Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, Free People has more than 81 boutiques in the U.S. and two in Canada. It has six stores in the Washington area.

IN: Little Birdies Flies to Wisconsin Avenue

Little Birdies Boutique, which made its debut on P Street in 2014, has moved its children’s clothing store just around the corner to a smaller space (700 square feet) at 1526 Wisconsin Ave. NW. “We are thrilled to be moved into our new Wisconsin Avenue location,” owner Shanlee Johnson tells us. “Our new space offers in house custom monogramming by the local favorite, Whyte House Monograms, and we are looking forward to all the fun events we have planned for fall.  Join us in October for our grand opening party and enjoy discounts, swag bags and celebration.”

IN: Mad Fox Taproom Opens in Glover Park

Mad Fox Breweries opened its D.C. gastropub, Max Fox Taproom, at 2218 Wisconsin Ave. NW on Aug. 12. Mad Fox CEO and executive brewer Bill Madden and business partner Rick Garvin started Mad Fox in 2007 and since have become very active in the craft beer and brewpub community. Falls Church will remain the hub of the whole operation, as all of the beers will be brewed there in its 16-barrel brewery. The new location will showcase Mad Fox’s award-winning handcrafted beers with draught and English-style cast service, including up to 24 draught and cask options.

IN: West End Cinema Re-opens as Landmark Theatre

West End Cinema, the independent movie theater at 23rd and M Streets NW that closed March 31 after four years of operation, re-opened July 17 as part of Landmark Theatres. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Landmark Theatres is known for showing documentaries, independent and foreign films and operates 50 theaters — 229 screens in 21 markets — across the U.S. Its first spot in D.C. was E Street Cinema at 555 11th St. NW in Penn Quarter, and it also operates Bethesda Row Cinema. In 2016, Landmark’s footprint in D.C. will expand with new screens in the old Atlantic Plumbing building at 8th and V streets NW later this year and at the Capitol Point project at New York Avenue and N Street NE, one block from the NoMa/Gallaudet U Metro station.

Previously known as the Inner Circle triplex before Josh Levin revived the place as West End Cinema, the new theater in the West End neighborhood will have two screens, and its lobby service will include alcoholic beverages.
Landmark President Ted Mundorff said that the new venue with “bring even more films and events to the Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom and Georgetown neighborhoods.”

IN: Baco Juice & Taco Bar

Baco Juice & Taco Bar is coming to 1614 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Owner Christopher Luceri promises healthful juices and smoothies as well as tacos, burritos and breakfast foods with a Mexican twist. He also wants to use the front of the property for a patio and outdoor seating, as the entrance is set back from the street. Baco’s other business location is in Pennsylvania.

IN: Belgian Restaurant, the Sovereign, to Move Into Former Champions, Blue Gin Space

The Sovereign, a bar and bistro to be located at 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW in Georgetown, will open in the late fall, according to owner Neighborhood Restaurant Group. The restaurant will be in the building which once housed the famed Champions Sports Bar and later Blue Gin in an alley on Wisconsin Avenue, just north of M Street. The space has been vacant for almost four years.

“The two-story bar and bistro will be comprised of an 84-seat first floor dining room and 47-seat bar on the second floor,” according to the restaurateurs. “Known for his award-winning beer lists at Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, Rustico and more, beer director Greg Engert is curating and creating a Belgian beer list unlike any other at the Sovereign alongside a menu of classic Belgian cuisine from executive chef Peter Smith.”

“There is substantial talent behind this operation,” said investor and business partner Greg Talcott, who has been a Georgetown restaurateur for decades and was involved with Blue Gin and the Third Edition. Working with Mike Babin of NRG on some of the details to finalize plans for the bar and bistro, Talcott said, “Getting the process completed has taken a long time.”

The company noted its serious authenticity: “The Sovereign will showcase the widest array of drafts and bottles from the very best Belgian brewers. With 50 drafts and 200+ bottles, the beer program will feature the work of Belgian brewers who embody the standards, techniques, and innovative spirit that underpins the fabled Belgian brewing culture.”

IN: Peet’s Coffee Coming to 33rd & M Streets

Be on the lookout for Peetniks on M Street. Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a specialty coffee and tea company that started the artisan coffee movement in Berkeley, Calif., in 1966, plans to expand to Georgetown, landing at the busy intersection of 33rd and M Streets NW. The new location will be the seventh shop in the greater Washington, D.C., area in addition to the restaurants and retailers that carry the coffee to brew and sell. Plans call for an October opening.

Last year, Peet’s said it was opening 23 new stores in a phased rollout across the D.C. market. Its D.C. flagship store opened in April 2014 at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, steps from the White House. According to the company, its “entry into D.C.will become the company’s second largest retail market outside of California and its biggest East Coast retail footprint.” Peet’s is the official coffee of the Washington Nationals.

Next to the now-shuttered Rhino Bar and across from Georgetown Cupcake, the corner spot at 3299 M St. NW previously housed Red Fire Grill Kabob, which closed in 2013. It looked like the building might become a clothing store, but Sandro, a Paris-based fashion label for women and men, pulled out of its lease on the property a few months ago. Before its closing four years ago, the Indian restaurant Aditi was there for 23 years. The building has stood empty for two years.

IN: Club Monaco Returning to Georgetown

Club Monaco is on its way to coming back to Georgetown. Four years after the Ralph Lauren-owned retailer left town, Club Monaco will return to 3295 M St. NW, an address which once held Rhino Bar & Pumphouse, which closed Feb. 28 after 18 years. The building for decades held a bar, more or less for college kids, such as Rhino or Winston’s.

The two-level store is aiming to open by early 2016. The new Club Monaco will mark the brand’s return to greater Washington. The company used to have stores in Georgetown and at Pentagon City. Also arriving at the block will be Peet’s Coffee & Tea next door.

IN: Riccardi Clothier Opens on M Street

Riccardi Clothier, formerly on Connecticut Avenue near Dupont Circle, has re-emerged at 1363 Wisconsin Ave. NW, next to BB&T Bank. The store specializes in Italian design — business attire and formal wear. There is a grand-opening sale on suits and sports jackets.

IN: Bar A Vin by Chez Billy Sud by Thanksgiving

Bar A Vin is scheduled to open in November on 31st Street NW, south of the C&O Canal.  The wine bar comes from Ian and Eric Hilton, the duo behind Chez Billy Sud and a number of other successful bars and restaurants in the area. The bar, to be located next door to Chez Billy Sud, will offer a range of French wines and cheeses in addition to beers and cocktails.  The space accommodates up to 50 patrons and includes a wraparound bar and a wood-burning fireplace.

IN: Dancing Goats Coffee on N Street at Mashburn

Dancing Goats Coffee Bar will move into 3206 N St. NW in partnership with Mashburn. The Washington State-based Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters plans to set up the shop in November. Mashburn, a clothing store out of Atlanta with a Sid (men’s) and an Ann (women’s) section, will be coming to 3206 N St., NW, which is part of the Georgetown Court complex and in the former space of Neyla Restaurant and a long-closed Chinese restaurant. The store will stretch from Prospect to N Street. The coffee shop will be on the west side of the store, facing the courtyard. “Think L.L. Bean meets Starsbuck’s,” said an architect for Mashburn of its plans last year at a Georgetown-Burleith advisory neighborhood commission meeting.

OUT: Benetton Closes Its Georgetown Doors

Benetton, the fashion retailer that expanded across the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, has now dwindled down to one American store, following the sudden closing of its Washington, D.C., store in Georgetown. At the end of July, the store, located on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW, was abruptly boarded up with no explanation of its closing. The brand’s name has also been removed from the building’s exterior wall.

Though the Italian-based company still has an international presence—particularly across Europe and South America–the Georgetown closing signals the end of Benetton’s era in the American fashion industry, as its New York City store is now its lone retailer in the country. The dwindling number of American stores can be attributed to popularity of competing retailers such as J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Benetton was a giant of children’s fashion, largely in part to its United Colors of Benetton clothing line. The collection boasts vibrant, colorful pieces and had garnered attention through the use of eye-catching yet somewhat controversial advertising, which aimed to promote social awareness. At its peak, the brand had more than 500 stores in the U.S.

The Georgetown Benetton was one of the first to be opened in the U.S. by retailer Iraklis Karabassis, who brought the clothing giant to White Flint Mall, its first ever spot in America. Head of IK Retail Group in Georgetown, Karabassis opened more than 100 Benetton stores in the U.S. and Canada. He sold his Benetton operation to the Benetton Group in 2008.

It is speculation that the Japanese retailer Uniqlo, which will open a Tyson’s Corner location next year, could become the next occupant of the three-story space, which was once the National Bank of Washington.

OUT: Georgetown’s Makeup Artist Carl Ray Splits for Downtown

Carl Ray, makeup artist to first lady Michelle Obama and other Washington, D.C., luminaries, has left George, the beauty salon for VIPs at the Four Season Hotel, for One80 Salon on K Street. Ray had worked at George for 16 years and told the staff at beginning of August of his departure.

Besides the first lady, Ray’s client list includes the famous and powerful in politics and entertainment: Nancy Pelosi, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen, Valerie Jarrett and Bill Clinton as well as Queen Noor and Princess Hussein along with Natalie Portman, Claire Danes, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder.

“I want to be a part of this new wave of renaissance in fashion and beauty taking place in the city right now,”
Ray told the Washington Post. “There is a resurgence and energy that is downtown. I have watched this area grow, and I want to be a part of this movement.”

OUT: Bandolero Closes After 3-Year Run

Bandolero, the Mexican restaurant at 3241 M St. NW, closed July 20 after opening three years to great fanfare under the direction of celebrity chef Mike Isabella. Not much later, Isabella left Bandolero and continued his work at Graffiato, Kapnos, G Sandwich Shop and other restaurants. He was succeeded by chef Tony Starr, who has worked at Zaytinya, Neyla and Georgia Brown’s. The previous restaurant in that space was the well-regarded Hook. Owners Jonathan and Bethany Umbel left this message for fans: “Dear friends, neighbors, and customers, Bandolero is officially closed. We’d like to thank all of our loyal patrons who have come to Bando and supported us over the past few years. It has been an amazing three years serving everyone! Gracias por su apollo, hasta que nos encontremos de nuevo. Sigan comiendo TACOS y bebiendo TEQUILA.” [Translation: Thanks for your support. Until we meet again, keep eating tacos and drinking tequila.]

OUT: Developer Drops Latham Hotel ‘Micro-Unit’ Project

Local developer SB-Urban has dropped its plan to convert the Latham Hotel at 3000 M St. NW in to a “micro-unit” apartment complex. The Latham Hotel micro-unit project was one of three that SB-Urban is developing in Northwest Washington targeting affluent young people with small but well-furnished apartments located in desirable neighborhoods. The company’s two other developments, slated for Blagden Alley in Shaw and at 15 Dupont Circle in the historic Patterson Mansion, are still ongoing, with plans to begin construction on both this year.

SB-Urban bought the Latham Hotel building in November 2013 for $45.4 million. After the purchase, the company went through a number of hoops, gaining the approval of the Old Georgetown Board and the Board of Zoning Adjustment to renovate the space into a development consisting of 140 units with 330 square-foot floor plans.

OUT: Hudson Trail Outfitters Rides Into the Sunset

Hudson Trail Outfitters, a retailer of outdoor gear and clothing, will close within weeks, as sales begin for the remaining Tenleytown, Arlington, Fairfax and Rockville stores. A pioneer in active outdoor sportswear, the business stated in 1971.

OUT: All We Art Goes Online

The innovative art gallery, All We Art, at 33rd Street and Wisconsin Avenue has ended its retail presence after a year. It will maintain its online business — — and gave its friends and patrons a unique valediction for its retail venture: “Wanderer, your footsteps are the road. Art is an everchanging way of expression, and so is the art market in our ever-changing world. All We Art, following its mission and its destiny, is going forward. We are moving online. Our Art Space will no longer be open to the public for walk-in purchases in Georgetown. Soon, you will able to shop art and handicrafts at our renewed website. We thank you all for your support, and we hope we’ll see you soon over the cloud. We art keeping you posted as always. Thanks, gracias, mercy!”

OUT: Crime Museum Receives Death Sentence

National Museum of Crime & Punishment has lost its lease and will close its doors at 575 7th St. NW after more than seven years on Oct. 1. The museum of crime-related exhibits, at once hands-on and eye-catching, could ask an admission price of $20. “We are incredibly disappointed that we were asked to leave our building and did everything possible to try and work with our landlords to stay,” stated Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer of the Crime Museum. The museum will continue its walking tours and other educational programs.


TAA’s New Digs on M

TAA PR, formerly known as the Aba Agency, has moved around the corner from 30th Street to 3112 M St. NW. The public relations firm, working in strategic communications, experiential marketing, branding and other services, has clients which include the Smithsonian, Cirque du Soleil, Shake Shack, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Fiola Mare, Mazza Gallerie, Tyson Galleria and Mercedes Benz. Congratulations to Aba Kwawu and her associates for choosing an office on Georgetown’s busiest street.

Beasley Opens in Palm Beach

Beasley Real Estate, a luxury real estate leader in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, has now moved beyond being solely a regional firm and opened an office in Palm Beach, Florida, at 515 North Flagler Drive. “The Palm Beach market has always been synergistic with our core client base, and we are excited to be present in this vibrant marketplace,” said managing partner Jim Bell.

Hop, Cask & Barrel Seeks Extended Hours

Hop, Cask & Barrel, the liquor store at 1717 Wisconsin Ave. NW that replaced Wagner’s Liquors, asked the Georgetown-Burleith advisory neighborhood commission for the opportunity to extend its hours past 10 p.m. on select dates. Business co-owner Ankit Desai and lawyer Andrew Kline spoke at the Aug. 31 meeting. Kline argued the Hop, Cask & Barrel was a good neighbor and had poured $400,000 into renovation work at the store. (The business group also owns Sherry’s on Connecticut Avenue and Metro Wine & Spirits on Columbia Road.) Desai thanked the neighborhood for its welcome. He is working with community groups on mutual events.

Halcyon Incubator Honored by the SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration named Halcyon Incubator — part of the S&R Foundation at 3400 Prospect St. NW — a winner of the National Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Aug. 24. “The Halcyon Incubator is designed to support social entrepreneurs with big game-changing ideas to critical 21st-century challenges,” the SBA wrote. “Social entrepreneurs are an absolutely essential piece. They develop radical new business modules and approaches to solving today’s major social issues throughout the nation and world. By helping social entrepreneurs transform audacious ideas into scalable and sustainable ventures, the Halcyon Incubator acts as a catalyst for measurable social outcomes.” Recently, the SBA recently announced a total award of $4.4 million to startup accelerators representing 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, including those that fill geographic gaps and also foster entrepreneurship among women and other underrepresented groups.

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