Business Ins & Outs: Blues Alley Operator Buys Blues Alley Building

Blues Alley Operator Buys Blues Alley Building

Looks like the famed music venue, Blues Alley, will stay in Georgetown. Blues Alley operator, Harry Schnipper, has purchased the Blues Alley building from Snyder Properties, CEO Karen Snyder confirmed to The Georgetowner today.

The purchase price was reportedly $1,540,000.

Georgetown commercial real estate legends Johnny Snyder and Sam Levy bought the Wisconsin Avenue property that included the alley structures in 1960. Schnipper will be the third owner of the alley building. Blues Alley opened in 1965.

Known as “the house that Dizzy built,” Blues Alley has played host to the greatest names in the history of jazz, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Mingus, Tony Bennett, Stan Getz, Eva Cassidy and Chick Corea. A major D.C tourist destination, the club — situated in a turn-of-the-century brick carriage house nestled in the alleyway at 1073 Wisconsin Ave., NW — is also renowned for its speakeasy feel, cozy 125-capacity and candlelit intimacy.

In: Mahal BBQ at Sandlot Georgetown

Mahal BBQ opened at Sandlot Georgetown — 2715 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Chef Jerome Grant brings his new American-Filipino fusion concept to town. Main dishes come as platters or sandwiches and include bbq sausage, smoked beef cheek, half chicken and smoked oyster mushroom, paired with your choice of banana ketchup or white bbq sauce, beer mustard, or chili-vinegar sauce, we’re told. Mahal BBQ will be at the outdoor shipping container bar every weekend through mid-October.

In: Chi’s Gallery

Formerly a clothing store — as well as housing the offices of the Georgetowner Newspaper 22 years ago — the building at 1408-1410 Wisconsin Ave. NW was purchased by Trans Empires from Snyder Properties and will now house Chi’s Gallery.

Reduced In-person Hours: Petite Soeur

Pâtissier Ashleigh Pearson’s stylish Wisconsin Avenue boutique, Petite Soeur opened in October, luring passersby with her handcrafted chocolate displays. Pearson honed her chocolate-making techniques at Thomas Keller’s famed Per Se in New York City, where she crafted an entire chocolate course of eight to 12 different bites each day. Her pastry skills reflect training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and her work at D.C.’s Marcel’s. Intricately painted bonbons in flavors like hazelnut, passionfruit, caramel and a clever play on s’mores, plus classic French butter cookies called sables, fudge, caramels and chocolate bars (some are gold-flecked) are beautifully arranged in the display case. 

But, for now, customers expecting the bon bon shop at 1332 Wisconsin Ave. NW to be open will have to wait. It seems Petite Soeur cannot handle all the demand for its sweets.

Ashleigh Pearson posted on social media: “The past two months have been a whirlwind! Through @petitesoeurdc I’ve had the opportunity to meet and serve some unbelievable people and organizations. We are growing so much faster than expected and the commissions and corporate gifting arm of our business needs so much attention. This has caused us to not be able to meet all of our retail hours because at times we need all hands on deck for these very large orders. Until we can train a new wave of team members we will have to amend our in person hours so we can meet our online and custom orders. I see these as positive growing pains and we ask that you continue to support us as we grow to be able to meet the incredible demand for the bonbons and sablé cookies you love!!!”

“You can still always order online for in store pickup and shipping. We will continue to serve and take new corporate orders and custom commissioned work. Our amended hours will be posted on Monday.”

In Other Bon Bon News…. Coming: Arcay Chocolates on O

With a retail presence in Union Market, Rockville-based Arcay Chocolates plans to expand to Georgetown at 3211 O St. NW, the former site of the cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers. Offering truffles, specialty bars, shots, peels, pretzels and fruits, Arcay Chocolates says it is “the product of Anabella Arcay, a Venezuelan Master Chocolatier. Vast experience with chocolate and cocoa has positioned Arcay Chocolates as one of the premier collections of bonbons and truffles in the world. Arcay Chocolates is an internationally acclaimed Chocolatier with 42 international awards, providing a colorful combination of flavors and art that creates an atmosphere of exquisite sensations, offering a variety of superb and mouth-watering chocolates and desserts. Years in the business have helped Anabella Arcay develop a unique business catered, literally, to every client, taste or need for an unforgettable fusion of art and chocolate.”

Out: Officina

Now, this closure definitely has some neighbors upset. In 2020, chef Nicholas Stefanelli had joined forces with Via Umbria owners Bill and Suzy Menard to open the Officina popup in the Via Umbria space at 1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW. It was similar to the flagship Officina location at the Wharf and included Stefanelli’s distinct shopping and dining experience with fine wines, artisanal pastas, specialty snacks and preserves. An update on the status of the property is upcoming.

Out: Taïm Mediterranean Kitchen

Founded in New York City 14 years ago by Einat Admony and Stefan Nafziger, Taïm opened its first location outside the Big Apple in Washington, D.C. — specifically at 1065 Wisconsin Ave. NW — on Aug. 31, 2019. The Georgetown location closed in May. Meaning “tasty” in Hebrew, Taïm — with its falafel, pitas, bowls, salads, mezzo — continues at its Dupont Circle location, 1514 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Out: Fat Munchiez

“It’s the candies, snacks and sweet cereals you love, only in bigger boxes and awesome flavors, along with Japanese and other East Asian sweets,” we wrote in November of the brands at the unusual shop at 1432 Wisconsin Ave. NW, now shuttered.


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