While The Hilltoss and Bulldog Tavern were scheduled to open this Saturday, Nov. 1, and Friday, Oct. 31, respectively, in the Healey Family Student Center, both openings have been delayed due to scheduling conflicts for restaurant clearance with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Building permits, certificates of occupancy, health department inspections, business licenses and liquor licenses — for Bulldog Tavern — are all required in order to open a business, and were not all received in time for this weekend. However, both restaurants now have the necessary clearance for restaurant operation, and after final inspections, both should be able to host their anticipated grand openings.
“We hire expediters and third-party reviewers as applicable to help speed up the process, but at the end of the day there is only so much we can control,” said Joelle Wiese, associate vice president of auxiliary business services. “There are construction projects and restaurants opening across the District, not just on our campus, so I am sure the local government is quite busy.”
Bulldog Tavern will serve alcohol to customers over 21 years of age and pub food. The tavern is managed by Bon Appétit Management Co., although the company could not be reached for comment.
“For Bulldog Tavern, we are hoping to have a soft opening on Tuesday at 5 p.m., with a grand opening on Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. Hilltoss is a little further behind in the D.C. government process and hopes to be open within a couple of weeks,” Weise said.
Students of Georgetown, Inc. has also faced financial and marketing issues arising from the launch of the newest storefront, which is dedicated to salads and smoothies.
“When going through the budgeting process there have been a lot of fluctuations,” Corp CEO Sam Rodman (MSB ’15) said. “There are a lot of fluctuating costs in the process, and although we have contracts with the construction company, change orders always arise during the process.”
In the middle of construction, The Hilltoss’ development team realized the need for additional storage space, requiring changes to budgeted costs.
“To make up for these change orders we try to reduce the scope of other areas or find ways to reduce product cost so we can maintain within our expected budget,” Rodman said.
In launching The Hilltoss, The Corp also faces the challenge of strategic planning.
“We are making a whole new store with food; we are making ourselves in a new space on campus that is still open to student perception,” Rodman said. “We’re maintaining the same philosophy but with a new aesthetic. We’ve been trying to get our salads into the hands of students with the farmer’s market and giving out free samples and the response has been confidence boosting. We are trying to fill a void on campus that has yet to be filled.”
Along with budgeting constraints, The Hilltoss will also compete with other similar salad restaurants.
“We are convenient and have reasonable pricing. The Corp doesn’t always get product quality correct but we have spent so much time ensuring product quality with The Hilltoss that we’re sure students will enjoy it,” Rodman said of the similar food options. “In addition, since we are a student-run company, we can maintain and manage student interests and change based on those interests, something that Sweetgreen, Chop’t and Salad Creations cannot readily do.”
Although Hilltoss salads were not available at the farmers’ market this fall, The Corp made its financial projections for The Hilltoss based on results it saw at the market last spring. The experience allowed them to project revenues and create a timetable of how the input costs of creating The Hilltoss would be repaid.
Not only will The Hilltoss serve as The Corp’s newest business endeavor, it will also serve as another avenue for The Corp’s philanthropic efforts. The Corp Philanthropy Committee and The Corp Service and Outreach Committee are working to give back to the Georgetown community through scholarship and philanthropic donations.
“Our money is going to causes. Through The Hilltoss we are promoting sustainability efforts with our ‘Green Teams’ and providing our employees with sustainable business training. We are really trying to make a difference on campus,” Hilltoss Director Dana Mitchell (MSB ’15) said.
As The Hilltoss and Bulldog Tavern prepare for their grand openings, Rodman expects a symbiotic relationship between the two restaurants that will benefit all students.
“Having the pub around will be really helpful as it will further create the studying and dining experience the student center was meant to be. We’re going to improve the perception of the building as a whole as students will have the option for a customizable, quick and healthy snack and some caffeine as well as a gourmet option all in the same place,” Rodman said.
The opening of The Hilltoss and Bulldog Tavern will optimistically be this upcoming week, although a concrete date will depend on the availability of the final inspections needed for final Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs approval.
DCRA could not be reached for comment.