For Georgetown, it’s not so much that the town competes with downtown D.C., as demonstrated by the fancy places at the City Center, but that it is competing with the rest of the world. Luckily for Washington, D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, as several surveys indicate, when people visit the nation’s capital, they want to see the White House, the National Mall … and Georgetown.
When asked about putting the Sovereign in an alley next to the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, Greg Engert of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group told the Washington Post, “People ask, ‘Why are you opening in Georgetown?’ Why not? It’s a beautiful neighborhood, and I think there’s a great clientele who want to drink great beer there. Frankly, not every new place has to open on 14th Street or in Shaw in 2016.”
Business owners face a mountain of challenges getting restaurants open, whether construction work, schedules, finances, neighborhood concerns or government red tape. In Georgetown, there are also the requirements of a historic district and the condition of its old buildings — and necessary approvals by the Old Georgetown Board and the neighbors.
By April 9, the 27-year-old moratorium on additional liquor licenses in Georgetown will finally expire — allowing for more new spots. Where to put these new places seems problematic: Is there enough vacant space? [See accompanying chart.]
Restaurants still face D.C.’s own bureaucratic hurdles. At-large Councilmember David Grosso introduced a bill to the District Council to support small businesses and lighten the bureaucratic load — and that includes restaurants. He sees the D.C. government as an obstacle to business, making them waste time and money. “This bill will alleviate some government-imposed burdens on our city’s businesses,” Grosso said. “The Local Business Support Amendment Act makes important changes to better align the District of Columbia with neighboring jurisdictions and help our local businesses flourish.”
It seems that many stars are aligning to help get more star restaurants in old and new Georgetown — and we can dream, after all. The town is well aware that you have to be hip and of your time — and right on time. Again.