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liquor licenses as part of the stalling of new restaurant openings. It expired in 2016. Others say the high rents and past closings are obstacles when restaurateurs envision setting up shop in Georgetown. Restaurateurs will make their decision based on the value proposition there. What economic factors would make them invest along the Georgetown retail corridor? Across D.C., restaurant owners are becoming accustomed to asking for a significant portion of the build-out from landlords; this would be an essential tactic in negotiating space in Georgetown. Margins are slim for D.C.’s top restaurateurs, who have built their restaurants into destinations in and of themselves. And there are plenty of competing neighborhoods that can be more appealing for a variety of factors, including the Shaw, NoMa and the District Wharf, as landlords there beckon new restaurant development. Thyme Real Estate Holdings, which is developing along the side streets of the corridor, is also moving forward in Georgetown in a way that is not so typical. Its Grace Street Collective has relatively low rents at 3210 Grace Street, Northwest, according to BizNow. The Collective, which is a boutique food hall, is home to South Block, Sundevich and Grace Street Roasters. (The Collective is featured in a "Healthy Food Trends" news segment in the Swizzle Chill TV YouTube library.) The building that houses The Collective is growing: Thyme is adding a fish shop and a restaurant by José Andrés-protegee Johnny Spiro in 2018. Another sign of the changing M Street Corridor in Georgetown is the opening of

national food retailers and coffee shops. In December, Wawa opened its first D.C. location there and Blue Bottle Coffee arrived in July 2017. Georgetown should continue to see a gradual more-restaurantfriendly environment as it evolves into an all-day destination; additionally, there are other opportunities that can be realized: investment in further side-street development and the possibility that a savvy landlord makes a long-term investment in a large, ambient food hall. A recent report by Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate consultancy and research firm, notes that there will be 300 food hall projects in operation by 2020 and that the food hall model creates a robust economic catalyst for new restaurant development. Church Hall’s opening in March portends well for future full-service restaurant openings. The beer and game hall is a striking and comfy location to socialize and enjoy great beer. Geoff Dawson, a Church Hall partner, was on hand at the roundtable to offer up his opinion of the changing Georgetown environment and proclaim his own positive outlook on the dining scene there. The Church Hall investment in a neighborhood that is 270 years old is also a long play, but the venue as a destination could drive a unique trajectory of success. As evident during the panel discussion, and what many other writers have noticed, is that the space is designed in a way to help guests forget they are in a subterranean space. Game boards, multiple TVs and a setup that includes couches and communal tables are all part of the cozy, destination-worthy restaurant and beer hall. Church Hall’s arrival and the new full-service restaurants announced for Georgetown this year may be indicative of a tide turning in favor of restaurateurs.

Eatery Pulse DC Restaurant News | Spring 2018  
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