Business Ins & Outs

September 10, 2014

IN: Rent the Runway Coming to M Street

Rent the Runway, the women’s designer dress, gown and accessories rental business, has moved into 3336 M St., NW, part of the Cady’s Alley design, home and fashion district, EastBanc and Jamestown announced Sept. 8, with an opening planned for November. Nearby stores include Calypso St. Barth, Intermix, Steven Alan and Bonobos along with home design brands, Calligaris and Donghia.

IN: Artist’s Proof

Leaving Cady’s Alley, where it first opened last year, Artist’s Proof — a contemporary art gallery that features emerging artists from here and around the world — moved to 1533 Wisconsin Ave., NW. (One of its exhibitors, Christian Develter provided the art for this newspaper’s front page.)

IN: Do’s Custom Tailor on Regency Row

Do’s Custom Tailor and Formal Wear has moved to 3409 M St., NW. The shop had been at Wisconsin and M and before that at Georgetown Court on Prospect Street for years.

IN: Chaia Fixing Up Grace Street Shop
Known at the farmers markets near the White House and at Dupont Circle, Chaia (“farm to taco”) owners and chefs Bettina Stern and Suzanne Simon are planning their first brick-and-mortar place at 3207 Grace St., NW., in the former G. Morris Steinbraker building. Look for a spring 2015 opening.

OUT: Modern; IN: Georgetown Piano Bar
The Georgetown Piano Bar plans to open its doors Sept. 12 and will be located at 3287 M St., NW, former home of the nightclub Modern. The team creating the bar is composed of piano player Hunter Lang, former Mr. Smith’s manager Gene McGrath, former Mr. Smith’s employee Morgan Williams and Bill Thoet, according to the Washington Business Journal

IN: Tari Moves Up Wisconsin Avenue
After selling the property, having a sale and packing up, boutique owner Sara Mokhtari quickly found a new place for her clothing consignment business at the old Dalton Pratt space at 1742 Wisconsin Ave., NW. — with new inventory as well.

Jamestown Properties Buys Vornado’s Half of Georgetown Park for $270 Million

August 7, 2014

Jamestown Properties — which works often with local developer EastBanc — is set to buy half of the Georgetown Park retail and office space for $270 million, according to Real Estate Alert Newsletter. It reported that “Bidding was aggressive for the 307,000-square-foot Georgetown Park, which a partnership between Vornado Realty and Angelo, Gordon & Co. acquired via foreclosure in 2010. The team repositioned the property and filled vacant space. Atlanta-based Jamestown, acting via its open-end Jamestown Premier Property Fund, is expected to see a stingy initial annual yield of less than 5 percent.”

Jamestown is buying Vornardo’s part of the property. The D.C. purchase price appears to be a record. The property includes Canal House and a 668-space parking garage, the biggest in Georgetown.

Restaurant Week Summer 2014

August 6, 2014

Beginning Monday, Aug. 11, more than 200 of D.C.’s finest restaurants will offer three-course lunch and dinner specials for seven days only. Each year, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington holds this event to give local foodies the opportunity to experience the region’s best restaurants at affordable prices; prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus are priced at $20.14 and $35.14, respectively.

Georgetown hot spot Cafe Milano will be participating in this week-long celebration, featuring a three-course lunch of some of its most popular dishes. Other local restaurants participating include Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, El Centro D.F., Filomena Ristorante and I-Thai, among others. For more information about Restaurant Week and participating restaurants, visit

Business Ins + Outs

IN: Floating Food Boat Arrives on the River

Thanks to Nauti Foods, D.C’s first food boat, paddlers on the Potomac River can now grab a quick bite to eat. Nauti Foods partners with local food vendors, such as Dolcezza Gelato, Bullfrog Bagels and Sticky Fingers, to offer a wide variety of snacks to anyone on the Potomac.

“We will be serving a variety of food on our boat,” said Ari Fingeroth, co-founder of Nauti Foods. “Hot dogs, healthy snacks, baked goods, ice cream and non-alcoholic drinks on board.”

“I have been boating for 15 years now,” Fingeroth said. “I think there is a high demand for quick access to food amongst the kayakers on the river. So, I came up with the idea of floating food boats.”

The Nauti Foods boat is stationed north of Key Bridge on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. The business hours are flexible, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays; Noon to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

IN: Kate Spade New M Street Store Opens Aug. 16

Kate Spade New York is moving into the larger former Juicy Couture space. At the same time, Kate Spade Saturday is expected to move into the current Kate Spade space on M Street. According to EastBanc, Kate Spade at 3034 M St., NW, will open Aug. 16. The new space is bigger, the company says, with 5,421 square feet.

IN: Cafe Mayo Opens on Dumbarton Street

A new sandwich joint, Cafe Mayo has opened at 3147 Dumbarton St., NW, in the space which once sold adult toys and before that comic books. The eatery served up a wide range of sandwiches, including Cuban sandwiches, banh mi and meatball subs as well as egg salad and a kids’ menu.

IN: Calligaris to Open on M Street

Calligaris — the Italy-based store for home furnishings — signed a lease at 3328 M St., NW, with 5,000 square feet in the Design District and Cady’s Alley on the west side of Georgetown, according to retail developer EastBanc, Inc., and Jamestown. Moving up from Wisconsin Avenue, Calligaris joins Bo Concept, Boffi-Maxalto, Contemporaria and Donghia and other high-end design stores.

CORRECTION: No Quiznos Coming

In the July 2 Georgetowner, it was reported that Darrell Dean Antiques & Decorative Arts store at 1524 Wisconsin Ave., NW, was about to close and would re-open its business in Kensington, Md. That is correct. It was reported the vacated space would become a Quiznos. That is incorrect. A representative of the landlord called the newspaper to assert that no Quiznos was coming.

IN: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop Coming to Georgetown

The Delaware-based sandwich shop Capriotti’s plans to open at 34th and M Streets, NW, in the long-vacant building that housed Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory and before that the famed Cellar Door music venue.

There is a Capriotti’s already in downtown near Dupont Circle at 18th and M Streets, NW, run by franchisee George Vincent Jr., who confirmed the expansion to Georgetown at 3347 M St., NW. Last week, Capriotti’s opened a Rosslyn location. The Virginia store, boasting the company’s iconic brick wall logo, is the inaugural restaurant for the franchise in the state, and is located at 1500 Wilson Blvd.

Established in 1976 in Wilmington, Del., Capriotti’s has distinguished itself from other sandwich shops by slow-roasting whole, all-natural turkeys in-house each night and hand-pulling the meat the next morning for its signature subs. It is touted as a favorite spot of Vice President Joe Biden, formerly a senator from Delaware.

Latham Hotel, Citronelle Contents Up for Auction

July 22, 2014

Who would not want to own one of Michel Richard’s spatulas or knives?

Due to the renovation and conversion of the Latham Hotel, Hotel Content Liquidators, LLC, will put to auction different amenities, furnishings, kitchen equipment, laundry equipment and other exterior items. Items from Citronelle and Madeline restaurants and the hotel will go on sale beginning July 17, by appointment only. For more details or to schedule an appointment, call 202-716-9811 or visit

Committed to Vinyl: Hill & Dale’s Rob Norton

July 16, 2014

“Hill & Dale has air conditioning, a couch and Willie Nelson on the LP Wall.”

That’s what an Instagram on the relatively new Georgetown shop’s Facebook page offers, which is, if not a summation of what the store is, then a pretty good hint of some of the pleasures therein.

Oh, and Hill & Dale sells new vinyl records, many of them remastered rock and roll, blues and jazz masters, but also brand new things you can call actual albums by contemporary artists.

Hill & Dale is owner Rob Norton’s gamble on the belief that people will want to buy, touch, hold, play and listen to vinyl records again, not just for nostalgia’s sake, but for all the reasons that making really listening to music a one-of-a-kind experience in the iTunes and digital age. There are other stores around which do vinyl—old vinyl albums played on old turntables as well as new vinyl works—but Norton decided that he’d go all in on new vinyl.

“It’s a risk, I suppose,” he said. “But lots of artists and musicians do that now. It’s almost a hedge but also another way of marketing, selling, your music, a process that’s gotten very complicated, business-wise.”

Norton isn’t just a music-rock-jazz-o-phile with an obsession. In the store at 1054 31st St., NW, in what used be the Parrish Gallery, he’s created a kind of walk-in experience.

“One of the reasons I loved albums, always have, is the art work, the covers going back at least to the 1960s. That’s art to me, it’s very much a part of the store,” he said. That’s probably why the shop—with its clean, cool rows of albums categorized alphabetically—still retains the flavor of a gallery, with decorative concert and album posters. The LP Wall, with its changing offerings of current albums, is enough to make you swoon with delight. Another wall provides space for exhibitions and a sampling of the rock photography of Peter Simon, which includes the cover photo for Joni Mitchell’s classic “Blue” album. Another room houses East Coast Rock and Roll photography in a collaborate show with Govinda Gallery and Chris Murray.

If places like the Black Cat and the 9:30 Club are sweaty incarnations of the spirit of live performance music, Hill & Dale is more like a quiet church, where you can commune at the altar of album covers and talk with the owner. It’s a clean, quiet place for people who share an affinity for the power of all sorts of music.

“I think vinyl is coming back strong,” said Norton, who used to be a marketer for the pharmaceutical industry. I’m betting there are a lot of people like me out there who like to really listen to music. I happen to like Jazz a lot, but I like new music. I like Rush, Jack White Bruce, all sorts of thing and I really like Miles Davis.”

With Norton, there’s really two or three things going on in the store. It’s about intense listening—all those hours sitting with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” from beginning to end, or Mitchell’s “Blue” or the Woodstock album.

“It’s a way of listening,” he said. “You can’t flit around on an album, you have to go from start to finish, you can’t do what you do on the Internet, buy single copies, or just run around YouTube from song to song, artist to artist. It’s a totally different way of listening, a different experience.” He says the big record stores of the past almost prevented customers from getting the full repertoire of music they had on hand. “I never got out of the rock section,” he said, before he finally managed to realize his passion for jazz.

Looking at the LP wall, you see and practically feel the restless scope of 20th-century pop, rock, blues and jazz music—a remastered Hank Williams collection, a collection of an Iranian rock star’s work, the burning Hindenberg album cover by Led Zeppellin, Aretha, Bruce, the list is endless.

“The thing about vinyl is it’s tactile, you have to have patience,” he said. “The turntable, you set the record in the groove, it’s not background music when you listen to an album like that. It’s important.”

Business Ins + Outs

IN: Yummi Crawfish, Cajun Restaurant, Set to Debut on Wisconsin Avenue

Yummi Crawfish Restaurant is opening up its first location at 1529 Wisconsin Ave., NW, as it takes over the former Puro Café space. The opening date for the restaurant is yet to be determined.

OUT: Listrani’s Closes

Listrani’s Italian Gourmet & Pizzeria, a classic eatery for decades on MacArthur Boulevard, has closed. No word yet for a future occupant at 5100 MacArthur Blvd., NW.

Georgetown BID Up for Renewal, We Want Your Input

July 2, 2014

The Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) is working to extend its term for another five years, as required by the Business Improvement Districts Act of 1996. The current term expires Sept. 30. The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will hold a hearing on the Georgetown BID, at 6 p.m., July 10, in Room 120, the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

This public hearing is to inform citizens about the renewal application. All interested parties have an opportunity to present their views on the application in a public forum and ask questions.

After the hearing for the Georgetown BID, the participating voting members will vote on whether or not to approve the $17.5 million dollar estimated budget that will impact Georgetown for the next five years. The cost of BID services is financed by a self-imposed tax on the businesses within the community. The Georgetown BID income comes directly from the businesses of Georgetown, its members. It is calculated by the “non-exempt” commercial portions of property at a rate of $.1545 for every $100 of assessed value (see page 21 of the Five Year Renewal Plan).

The projected budget proposal has a two percent annual increase in BID tax that will be applied in 2016 (see page 22 of the Five Year Renewal Plan). The expenses of the operating budget will go towards different projects throughout the Georgetown BID which will include: street services, marketing improvements, transportation and destination management.

Complete copies of the application will be available, starting Thursday, July 3. The recertification package will also be available at –

Those who wish to present testimony or present written comments on the application must do so by noon, Monday, July 7, 2014. Send them and direct any questions to Lincoln Lashley at Telephone: 202-741-0814.
We want your input on the Georgetown BID to help us report on the nature and activities of BID as they relate to your businesses and our community. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to answer the questions below.

Please send your responses to

1. Are you familiar with the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID)?

2. Has the Georgetown BID helped you as a local business? If so, in what ways?

3. Are you familiar with the 15-year plan for 2028? Which part of the action agenda are you most interested in?

4. How can the Georgetown BID help your business?

Business Ins + Outs

IN: a New Georgetown Dinette

Alas, Emmy and Harry have retired, sold their business and departed Georgetown. While we will surely miss Emmy’s acerbic, loud and curt wit, we will also miss Harry’s French fries and bacon cheeseburgers. The new managers, Nasser and Josh, have renovated and updated the décor of Georgetown’s favorite greasy spoon and added a new menu with a bit of a Persian twist that includes gyros. Harry still owns the property at 3206 O St., NW, and stops by once in a while to check on things.

IN: Pretty Chic

A new boutique – Pretty Chic — opened at 1671 Wisconsin Ave., NW, and aims to provide the women of Georgetown affordable clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry. The store offers gently used consignment, vintage and new items available. Say hello to owner Sehvar Bor and store manager Blair Ringo.

IN: All We Art Studio

The art gallery, All We Art, which specializes in contemporary Latin American artists working in a range of mediums, opened last week at 1666 33rd St., NW. Its co-founders, Luisa Elena Vidaurre and Pablo Brito Altamira, are from Venezula.
“With our passion for art and our love of Venezuela and its culture, it seems like a natural step to open the space with an exhibition focusing on the art of that country,” said Vidaurre and Altamira. The gallery’s inaugural exhibit, “Tierra de Gracia/Land of Grace: Venezuelan Contemporary Art,” runs through Sept. 7.

OUT: Darrell Dean Space — and It Will Not Become a Quiznos

[UPDATED July 25 to reflect a reporting error by the Georgetowner.]

After 15 Years at 1524 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Darrell Dean Antiques & Decorative Arts is closing its store in Georgetown and moving to Kensington, Md., where it will re-open in September in a larger space.
The store will have a final tag sale during the third weekend of July, Dean adds, featuring items from a “fashion designer client which includes lot of cruise ship items as well as taxidermy, Restoration Hardware dining set, etc. … The sale will also include lots of miscellaneous items from other Georgetown clients.”

The retail space – which is near the George Town Club and Café Bonaparte — will not become a Quiznos restaurant, as incorrectly reported in the Georgetowner newspaper.

Ron Swarthout Earns GBA Lifetime Achievement Award

June 30, 2014

The Georgetown Business Association will honor Ron Swarthout, longtime proprietor of Georgetown Floorcoverings, the durable business which he ran from 1967 to 2012, and which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.

At its June 18 Leadership Luncheon at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, the GBA will present Swarthout with its 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Georgetown Floorcoverings has been one of those institutions in our city and village which practically defines the idea of several terms that are bandied about casually—“mom and pop store,” “family business,” “business business” “and “hard work and service.”

“That’s one of the things about our business,” said Swarthout, who lives in Spotsylvania, Va. “We don’t just have a product. It’s all about helping people, doing a professional job. We install as well as sell. It’s about being proud of how you do the work and gaining people’s trust. ”

Small businesses and family businesses are a dying breed in America’s economy, but Georgetown Floorcoverings is the essence of a family business. Swarthout’s father Herbert started the business in 1954 in a small space at 1417 28th Street, NW, with a warehouse in the basement. Herbert Swarthout started out in flooring by working as an installer, which served him well in his own business. He enlisted his son in his teens to work as a helper to the carpet mechanics for 50 cents an hour.

It took a while—a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1960s, and working with Western Electric for two years—but Ron Swarthout got in the family business in the 1960s, down at 3233 K St., NW, where his father had moved the store, and managed the store after his father’s retirement in 1979, before buying the business when his father passed away in 1979.

Swarthout was a visible part of the business community, with friends like Brad Altman, who ran Altman Parking and with whom he lunched regularly at Chadwick’s on K Street. The industrial atmosphere on the street had changed over the years. So, he moved the warehouse to R Street, SW, where it remains to this day.

“There have been changes,” he said. “You can’t get any parking anywhere, including K Street, for one thing. I guess that’s true all over the city. I think it’s probably harder for small businesses today, than it was when my father started.”

Swarthout made his wife Judy a half-partner in the business because he said he believed in sharing everything in their life. He has a son, Warren, who’s with the Fairfax County Fire Department, Marci, who’s a child psychologist and teacher and another daughter, Karen Swarthout Ori, who purchased and runs the business — and is GBA treasurer.

Swarthout remains active in the day-to-day operation of the business doing billing and accounting and drops by the office and Georgetown at least “once a week.”