***“There are a lot of really, really rich people coming to Washington, which will bring a new confluence of money and power,” longtime Washington Post writer Sally Quinn told The Georgetowner. “That may make those in power feel even more invincible than ever, which is not good. There will be a lot more great restaurants in Georgetown, which is good. We won’t be able to get a table at them though, which is bad.”***
Already we know José Andrés and Johnny Spero will open in Georgetown, and Nobu is coming to M Street in the West End. Recalling that the neighborhood let its longstanding restaurant liquor-license moratorium expire last spring, the overall takeaway for 2017 is that the restaurant business will keep getting better for Georgetown. Because of Trump’s election, Bo Blair decided not to shut down his Smith Point nightspot, popular with the previous Republican administration’s young staffers and friends. Cafe Milano remains ground zero.
Last year, the Washington Post wrote: “If there’s a Trump bump for restaurants, Georgetown is first in line … Shaw may have been the ‘it’ neighborhood of 2016, but 2017 will mark the great Georgetown comeback.”
Quinn’s neighbor, one block away, author Kitty Kelley, simply got biographical — of course — and just said what many are still thinking: “For eight years we’ve had a GQ president, the epitome of cool. Now we’re getting the Pillsbury doughboy. From panache to patootie, from ‘Eureka’ to ‘Egads!’”
Less than a week after Trump’s victory, the New York Times published a hyperbolic piece, headlined, “A Newly Vibrant Washington Fears That Trump Will Drain Its Culture,” in which it described some Washingtonians mildly freaking out. Council member and former mayor Vincent Gray told the Gray Lady, “I’m worried about people not wanting to come here because of the image they have of the Trump administration.” Gray added that he had found the Obama family “tremendously uplifting. … Their presence in the city brought a level of dynamism that just wasn’t there before.”
Curiously, as we know, the Obamas are staying in Washington, about to leave the White House for Kalorama, the same fancy neighborhood to which future first daughter Ivanka Trump and her family will move.
“I think it is pretty difficult to predict anything at this time, as everything looks so unpredictable,” said Zubair Popal of Café Bonaparte, Malmaison and Lapis, who didn’t talk about restaurants but the larger picture. “We hope for the best for consumers and businesses and want unity with our political leaders to maintain the prestige and credibility of the nation inside and around the globe.”
Many do expect a vibrant real estate market and think the new administration will be good for business.
“The fact that some members of the Trump family and staff are moving here and some of the new appointees are from Washington most likely will have a positive effect on the city,” said Margaret Heimbold of Long & Foster. “The stock market has shown early signs of a positive response.”
But it is not really a Trump bump, said Donna Evers of Evers & Co. Real Estate, Inc. “There is one big element that will affect the market positively,” she said. “Surprisingly, it is rising interest rates. We don’t expect a big rise this year. So, properties will still be affordable, but the rise is making the fence sitters decide to move now, rather than miss out completely on this whole era of low-cost borrowed money.
“Most of these fence sitters are baby boomers, who have nice big houses that the next generation is waiting impatiently to buy. The enthusiasm of these buyers coupled with the low inventory we have been experiencing for years should make for a very brisk spring market.”
Regardless, the coming Trump changes herald greater glamour and glitz.
“The most exciting part of the new administration is our incoming first lady Melania Trump, who, along with Ivanka, will radiate old-school glamour for a new Instagram generation,” said social and fashion writer Stephanie Green, now with WWD. “Being the first foreign-born first lady in centuries, Mrs. Trump has a special bond with new citizens, as she just became an American in 2006! What a testament to our country to go from communist-born immigrant to presidential spouse in only a decade!
“I also think it’s important to realize she’s the first first lady to speak more than three languages and to have had extensive professional experience in places like Paris and Milan. I can’t wait to see how she redefines this role and inspires us all with her warmth and elegance.”
In the Washington Times, Stephanie Mansfield didn’t seem to go too far out on a limb when she wrote: “Think of it as Reagan Redux: Russian sable blankets and Lear-lock at local airports. The resurrection of the $600 tasting menus and the 14-karat gold tins of Almas caviar. Faberge eggs for breakfast. … Washington is bracing for what may be the biggest seismic shift in taste and culture since 1981” (when Ronald Reagan took office). “With anxious embassies vying to snag all the new cabinet members and restaurants looking for ways to tap into a steady stream of American Express Black cards, Washington feels like a capital on the verge of a sudden sea change.”
Talking to Mansfield, Washington insider Tandy Dickerson cited past glamour for the new administration: “It will be a la Kennedy and Reagan — in that order.”
“Mr. Trump and his administration would be wise to make nice with their new neighbors here, especially the Old Washington Hands who are often willing to share the wisdom and experience they have gained over many years, regardless of party,” said Kevin Chaffee of Washington Life.
“The social scene in the nation’s capital has been a parched desert for the past 16 years because the Obamas and [George W.] Bushes hardly ever mixed it up with the locals, invited very few — apart from top lobbyists and media — to the White House and rarely bothered to break bread in private homes or embassies. The Kennedys and Reagans made a concerted effort in this regard and it is generally considered that such exposure to people outside their inner circles served them well.”
Still others got back to the basics of why they voted for Trump in the first place.
“I’ve been a supporter of Mr. Trump for years and am very happy he was elected. I now hope and expect he will keep most of his promises — especially on lowering capital gains and payroll taxes and eliminating ISIS. But most important and one of the main reasons I voted for him is that he will nominate a conservative Supreme Court justice to replace [Antonin] Scalia,” said Republican, real estate agent and philanthropist Nicole D’Amecourt, who is typical of the largely ignored urbane and sophisticated Trump supporter who is not an angry, white, uneducated rural man. (She is the daughter of Viscountess Gertrude de Ponton D’Amecourt, a Georgetown personality who died in 2012 at age 102.)