Business Ins & Outs April 18, 2018

By Robert Devaney and Stephanie Green

In: The Much-Ballyhooed Wing Opens

An initial reaction after walking into the Wing, the new women-only club at 1056 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, overlooking the C&O Canal, was that it seemed like a really chic sorority: tasteful floral displays, modern furniture and light-filled, loft-like spaces.

The club’s founder, Audrey Gelman, didn’t seem offended by this assessment. “Sororities get a bad rap,” she said.

So do women, which is why so many private clubs and civic organizations excluded them in years past, denying women important networking opportunities. Not in 2018.

Today, Gelman, a former Democratic Party operative, is harnessing the zeitgeist of women’s empowerment to build her budding empire.

She got the idea for the Wing while on an Amtrak train, she recalls. Gelman needed a place to change clothes and freshen up before meetings at her destination. “Nobody wants to do that in the Union Station bathrooms.”

The Georgetown location, her fourth club, opened April 12. She operates three others in her home state of New York and is winging out to Los Angeles, Toronto and London this year.

The not-so-subtle undercurrent of feminist politics wafts throughout the pastel salons; names of pioneering women (Anita Hill is given such a distinction) grace the doors of the “phone booths” to ensure maximum conversation privacy.

There’s a color-coded library, a restaurant, a meditation room, a lactation room, showers and a beauty bar, where bottles of Chanel stand like elegant little soldiers. “We have a great partnership with Chanel,” Gelman says proudly.

Members (sorry, no “cisgender” men allowed, but trans women are cool) are encouraged to relax, network and attend speaking engagements by what is said to be a diverse group of influencers and authors. Hillary Clinton stopped by recently at the Wing’s New York branch.

Gelman says she’s already got 1,000 “Wing Women” signed up in Georgetown and “many thousands” waiting to be let through the velvet pink rope. Her criteria for membership is based mostly on what she calls “diversity.” Gelman explains that women from a wide variety of professional backgrounds from engineering to media fill her roster.

To the Wing’s credit, its affordable monthly rate of $215, plus a $100 initiation fee, allows an even greater diversity to the mix.

In: Modern Trousseau and Angolo Replace Hitched, Pier 2934

Fear not, brides of D.C. The shop at 1523 Wisconsin Ave. NW is still a bridal boutique — just no longer Hitched, which closed March 31.

Wrote the former occupants (since 2008): “Thanks to you we are signing off with a heart full of memories. We will always be happily ever Hitched. With all our gratitude. — The Hitched Gals!”

Modern Trousseau, with eight stores in the U.S., is fixing up the space. As with Hitched, its products have been seen in The Georgetowner. Modern Trousseau’s Australian-born designer, Callie Tein, the company says, “evokes classic couture while expressing a vision of modern style and sophistication. The hallmark of Modern Trousseau is customization.”

Meanwhile at the corner of 30th and M Streets NW, there is another revolving door. The aptly named Angolo Ristorante Italiano takes over where Cajun seafood restaurant Pier 2934 was until three months ago. The new place is open, and the backyard outdoor seating is being reconstructed in time for warmer weather.

Out: Zara, Abruptly

Zara, the modern-chic destination for mostly millennial shoppers, closed its Georgetown outpost at 1238 Wisconsin Ave. NW March 30.

The Georgetown store, which sold affordable men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, occupied a prime location on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Prospect Street, decades ago the site of Billy Martin’s Carriage House and Tramp’s Disco.

No explanation was given for the closure, and calls seeking comment were not returned as of press time. Signage referred customers to locations in downtown, Bethesda, Pentagon City and Tysons Corner.

With more than 6,000 stores in nearly 90 countries, Zara is the main brand of the world’s largest apparel retailer, based in Spain.

Sold: Georgetown Theater Building; Compass Coffee to Come
Owner and architect Robert Bell, who bought the formerly rundown property at 1351 Wisconsin Ave. NW in 2013, sold the iconic Georgetown Theater building in early March to Martin-Diamond Properties LLC, headquartered in Delaware and with an office on Connecticut Avenue. The firm is led by Christopher Martin.

When asked by The Georgetowner how much the sale price was, Bell replied. “Enough … it’s fine.”

Meanwhile, the property will add to its tenants’ list. Compass Coffee plans to open a 112-seat eatery in the renovated space’s main floor, which requires a zoning variance, according to Urban Turf (which misreported that the building was empty).

A theater for decades, the building fell on hard times and was rehabilitated and reopened by Bell in 2016. The first and lower levels each measures 120 feet deep by 30 feet wide. Upstairs are offices and apartments, already leased, as well as a studio in the back. Nearby buildings on the avenue are now undergoing renovations.

The building is best known for its iconic theater sign with “GEORGETOWN” in capital letters, switched back on and aglow in neon-red as part of the renovation.

Happy 54th to Georgetown Tobacco!

Georgetown Tobacco on M Street was established March 15, 1964. The business is well known across the nation and the store’s sights and smells are a delight. Whether it be superlative cigars, pipe tobacco, elegant cuff links or Venetian masks, Georgetown Tobacco deals in the best. Congratulations to founder David Berkebile and his team.

New Four Seasons Spa Director

Dinka Cammett has taken over at the Four Seasons Fitness Club and Spa, a three-level facility. With decades of experience in the fitness and spa business, Cammett, who hails from Bosnia and Herzegovina, has also worked at Sisley Paris and Guerlain.

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