Acclaimed cookie shop Levain Bakery opened a new M Street location Wednesday, marking the chain’s first expansion out of the New York City area.
The bakery will open in the space formerly occupied by Johnny Rockets at 3131 M St. NW. Founded in 1995, the Levain Bakery chain grew in popularity after their six-ounce cookies attracted viral attention on social media from celebrities like Taylor Swift. The Georgetown storefront marks the chain’s eighth expansion, joining locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island.
Georgetown’s liveliness and tight-knit community made it the right choice for the chain’s new location, according to Rachel Porges, chief marketing officer at Levain Bakery.
“We always look for communities that have great residents, great tourism, lots of foot traffic, a foodie mindset and just like a really nice neighborhood feel,” Porges said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “Between the residential community and college, I think that Georgetown fits that bill really beautifully.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the bakery chain to adjust their business practices, but their experience with socially-distanced operations at other locations prepared them well for the bakery’s expansion, according to Porges.
“We’ve been open the whole time, with the exception of one unit, which is just really small and you can’t social distance in the size of it. We actually have great floor decals that showcase the six feet apart, one of them says ‘six feet or 18 cookies apart,’” Porges said. “We’ve found that people are appreciative of having a moment of normalcy in our bakeries and are always looking for a nice place to quickly go out and grab a bite.”
Levain’s opening comes after a number of Georgetown restaurants closed because of economic struggles because of the pandemic. Two M Street restaurants, America Eats Tavern and Le Pain Quotidien, announced permanent closures this summer. Levain’s arrival to the neighborhood also follows that of popular bagel deli Call Your Mother, which opened its long awaited 35th Street location in July after months of bureaucratic and pandemic-related delays.
Levain is partnering with Paola Velez, a Washington, D.C., based, James Beard Award winning pastry chef, to create a signature cookie. All proceeds from the cookie, as well as the bakery’s opening day profits, will go to Horton’s Kids, an organization that helps under-resourced D.C. youth graduate high school, according to Porges.
“From our start, we’ve been of the community, for the community,” Porges said. “When we open new bakeries, we really try to find something that’s in the community that’s supporting kids and families and particular areas where there’s food deserts, and Horton’s Kids does that.”