As students settle in on the Hilltop this week, they may notice sweeping changes to Georgetown storefronts.

Over the summer, local businesses — most notably restaurants — have announced closure as new retailers prepare to take their place this fall. Serendipity 3, Chadwicks and Neyla are among those now absent from the familiar landscape of M Street, while Forever 21, Free People, Kate Spade and Alice + Olivia, are preparing to, or have already, opened their doors.

Serendipity 3, an American restaurant on the corner of M and Wisconsin, closed over the summer because of a lawsuit with its landlord. Celebrated for their frozen hot chocolate, fried Oreos and $1,000 sundae, the licensed New York chain restaurant opened in 2011 and ended its run after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to BizJournals.com. As stated by the Washington City Paper, outstanding rent and utility fees totaled over $100,000, and the Washington Business Journal reported the company owed around $2 million to creditors. Serendipity was primarily in debt to 3150 M Restaurant Group LLC, managed by Charles Britton Swan Jr., who owns Rhino Bar & Pumphouse on M Street.

Chadwicks, a casual dining restaurant on K Street, will close Aug. 31. Open since 1967, the eatery is known for its popular daily happy hour deals, bottomless champagne brunches and reputation as a classic date night location. Currently, there are no plans for the Georgetown location of Chadwicks to reopen, although the Alexandria location will remain in business.

“I’m really going to miss Chadwicks, I’ve been working here for six years now and I can really say these people have become family to me,” said a former Chadwicks employee who wished to remain anonymous for professional reasons. “Not only are our customers amazing people, most of them have been loyal Chadwicks customers for years, some even decades… Georgetown will definitely be losing a great restaurant next week.”

However, another Georgetown institution, Mr. Smith’s, is poised to take Chadwicks place in early September. The move stems less from a desired geographic shift than a necessary financial one, with Mr. Smith’s taking over the property in early September, according to their website.

“Our landlord raised the rent on our current property and we could no longer afford it, so we bought out Chadwicks lease,” said Juan Andino, Mr. Smith’s general manager.

Ernesto Carrasco, a manager at Mr. Smith’s, believes that its move is indicative of larger changes in the area.

“It’s going to lose a lot of local businesses, and big franchises are going to come in,” Carrasco said of increased rents on M Street.

With increased pressure to retain old customers and secure new ones, Mr. Smith’s will be modifying its business strategy as well as its address.

“As soon as we take over Chadwicks, we have to figure out what strategies they have going on and look at our strategies and make it the best of both worlds,” Carrasco said. “However, we are going to keep the piano.”

Neyla, an authentic Mediterranean restaurant, closed Aug. 17 after losing its lease. According to The Georgetowner, Neyla, which had been at its N Street location for 15 years, is still actively looking for a new location in the Georgetown area.

“Neyla’s closing was based on many factors — primarily rents getting higher and not being able to sustain the higher costs because Neyla was only open for dinner,” Renie Freedman, director of marketing for Capital Restaurant Concepts, parent company and creator of Neyla, said.

However, Freedman does not see the closing as indicative of M Street becoming overly commercialized.

“Last year I saw that a lot,” she said of franchises and chains taking advantages of all the empty storefronts. “But this year it’s going to go back. It’s dependent upon what landlords want, if they want boutique stores.”

But while old Georgetown favorites close, the retail makeover of the neighborhood continues with the planned openings of Forever 21, Free People, Alice + Olivia and the already opened Kate Spade.

Taking H&M’s old location on 3222 M St., Forever 21 will soon welcome customers as chains and stores appealing to a younger demographic continue to move into Georgetown. Described by The New York Times as “faster fashion, cheaper chic,” the American brand, celebrated for having the most up-to-date style at low prices, will join H&M in appealing to Georgetown’s student and recent graduate population.

Free People will be opening at 3009 M St., replacing Italian restaurant Fino Italiano. Part of Urban Outfitters Inc., Free People is described as a “bohemian apparel and lifestyle retail company” marketed toward women. An opening date has yet to be confirmed.

Alice + Olivia, an upscale clothing boutique, will be opening in place of Qdoba. Known for trendy and eccentric designer pieces, the store has already secured a 10-year lease on M Street, the first Alice + Olivia in the region.

On Aug. 16, Kate Spade moved to Juicy Couture’s former location. Boasting over 5,400 square feet, the new space has the capacity to showcase the full Kate Spade line. Sister brand Kate Spade Saturday may also be making an appearance in Georgetown as well, taking over where the store formerly was, although the brand has yet to confirm.

It has been an eventful summer for Georgetown businesses with restaurants closing and relocating and retail chains popping up as swiftly as local businesses shut down. As higher rent prices drive local favorites out, there are vacancies for chains appealing to a younger, wealthier audience.


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