Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Restaurant Closures Outpace New Arrivals

Despite the planned opening of five new restaurants in Georgetown this year, local blog The Georgetown Metropolitan reported that 13 closed in 2012.

According to the Metropolitan, that number compares to 11 closures in 2011 and only five in 2010.

Nancy Miyahira, marketing director of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, wrote in an email that one specific cause for the large number of closures could not be pinpointed. She indicated that retirement, a change in business strategy or the end of a lease term were among the reasons for the closings.

Uno Chicago Grill, an independently owned franchise which was located at 3211 M St. NW, closed in September 2012. Uno’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Dick Hendrie told The Hoya that, to his knowledge, the business owners were no longer interested in continuing operations when the time came to renew the lease.

“Looking at all [of] the options, it didn’t make sense for them to continue,” he said.

George Deheshdi, owner of Fino Italian Restaurant at 3011 M St. NW, which closed last September, said that he had been located in Georgetown for 22 years and plans to relocate to Foggy Bottom.Deheshdi opened a new location at 1230 9th Street NW.

Sri Suku, owner of the now-closed Crepe Amour and Georgetown Wing Co., formerly located at 3291 M St. NW, said that the costs of doing business in the prestigious neighborhood made it difficult to turn a profit.

“Georgetown is a great place to build a brand,” Suku said. “Everybody likes to have a Georgetown address … but those Georgetown addresses are probably the least profitable ones in their portfolio. From a business owner’s perspective, when it comes down to economics, it really doesn’t make sense at the moment.”

Among the reasons Suku cited for closing his restaurants was what he called a “greedy” landlord, who raised his monthly rent from $6,000 to $15,000.

Suku predicted that the high costs of doing business will force even more restaurants to close.

Not all business owners, however, share Suku’s concerns.

Good Stuff Eatery, which specializes in burgers, fries and milkshakes, looks to open shop this spring in the location Suku’s restaurants used to occupy.

“We are really excited about it,” Jordyn Lazar, a spokesperson for the restaurant said. “Georgetown is a really vibrant community. You have a great mix of people.”

Farmers Fishers Bakers, which opened last November in Washington Harbour, has been able to meet forecasted sales expectations, according to Jennifer Motruk Loy, vice president of marketing and public relations.

Motruk Loy credited the Georgetown location for the sales figures.

“Georgetown is perhaps one of the top destinations in the country,” Loy said. “It is a wonderful combination of historic interests, shopping, dining and entertaining.”

In response to Suku’s comments about business in Georgetown, Loy theorized that marketing may have played a factor in Crepe Amour’s closure.

“There are a number of factors, of course, that are going to make a business succeed or fail,” she said. “Marketing is definitely one of them. It sounds to me like he didn’t understand his market area. He didn’t understand the demographics of what he was dealing with or the way that traffic worked.”

The other closures include Homemade Pizza Co., Papa Razzi, Mie N Yu, La Madeleine, The Guards,Leonidas, Georgetown Candy Bar and two eateries in the Georgetown Mall — Cafe Europe and K’s Deli.

Despite the series of closures, at least five new restaurants have announced that they will be opening in Georgetown this year. Miyahira added that the neighborhood will continue to attract different businesses because of the name recognition.

“People love to come to Georgetown — it’s a destination,” Miyahira wrote. “For a business to open here means they’ll benefit from the abundant mix of customers — including locals, college students, office employees who work in Georgetown, residents and tourists. Georgetown has international name-brand recognition; people ‘know Georgetown,’ and it’ll always be a popular destination in the D.C. metro area.”

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