Business Ins & Outs: Officina, Ella-Rue, Hickok Cole

In: Officina Popup at Via Umbria

Chef Nicholas Stefanelli joined forces last week with Via Umbria owners Bill and Suzy Menard to open Officina Popup in the Via Umbria space at 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW. It is, said the group, “similar to the flagship Officina location at the Wharf and will include Stefanelli’s distinct shopping and dining experience with fine wines, artisanal pastas, specialty snacks and preserves.”

With his experience at Masseria in Union Market and Officina at the Wharf, Stefanelli said he and his team “are excited to curate a special Italian culinary experience for Georgetown.”

“Growing up in the metropolitan area, Georgetown is a neighborhood that I’ve always been interested in and this opportunity has long been in the works with Bill and Suzy Menard,” Stefanelli said. “While the industry has been greatly disrupted, we are being as creative and proactive as possible and look forward to serving our new friends in Northwest.”

Curbside pickup and delivery are available, along with a private shopping experience with scheduled time slots for health safety.

More Popping Up: Ella-Rue in Alexandria

With their Georgetown shop boarded shut after the May 31 looting, boutique owners Krista and Alexa Johnson have opened an Ella-Rue pop-up at 815 South Washington St. in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Discounts are being offered on such famed brands as Chanel, Dior and Prada.

Moving: Hickok Cole to Union Market

Architecture firm Hickok Cole announced on June 3 that it had signed a lease for a new 25,000-square-foot office owned by Foulger-Pratt in the Union Market neighborhood. The 32-year-old design firm said it plans to move its 100-person staff from its current Georgetown location at 1023 31st St. NW to 301 N St. NE by April of 2021. The firm also has an office in Richmond, Virginia.

“We’ve loved being part of the Georgetown community for the past 20 years, so leaving is bittersweet,” said Mike Hickok, co-owner and senior principal. “But, as the firm has grown and changed, so have our needs. We’ve been searching for new space and have always felt the character of the Union Market neighborhood aligns with our creative culture. The move provides a unique opportunity to invest in what’s next for D.C. and contribute to the revitalization of one of the city’s most interesting new neighborhoods.”

Out: CEOs of the Wing, Reformation

Waves of resignations are rippling through retail and other businesses as accusations of racism are lodged against executives. Two of the businesses so far affected have Georgetown outposts: the Wing, a woman-centric co-working space on Thomas Jefferson Street, and the Reformation clothing store on M Street.

Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman resigned as CEO on June 11 amid employee anger. Staffers said the decision was “not enough” and called for the Wing “do more to support its black and brown employees.” A three-person group now makes up “a newly formed Office of the CEO,” according to the Wing.

“The past three months have brought change to our society, our culture, our business and our team in ways no one could have imagined,” the company said in a statement. “The Wing remains a vital resource for thousands of women navigating their path to success. But the moment calls for a rethinking of how we meet their needs moving forward and for new leadership that can guide The Wing into the future.”

A statement by employees who took part in a digital walkout against the company reads: “Simply put, The Wing doesn’t practice the intersectional feminism that it preaches to the rest of the world.”

Likewise, Reformation CEO Yael Aflalo quit on June 12 after accusations of racism. Writing “I’ve failed” on her Instagram account, Aflalo, who founded the women’s wear brand in 2009, will be replaced by Reformation president Hali Borenstein. According to Business Insider, “12 current and former employees at Reformation … allege the company perpetuated a culture of racism against Black employees.”


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