Mid-Year Changes on M Street
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 12:01
Although Georgetown students are mourning the loss of the popular Mexican restaurant Qdoba, several new nightlife and retail options have opened in the Georgetown neighborhood since students left campus before the holidays.
Qdoba, a popular franchise around the country best known in Georgetown for its weekly half-price night, closed its doors at 3303 M St. in early January. The restaurant owner could not be reached for comment.
However, Danielle Winslow, a public relations and marketing consultant for Chipotle Mexican Grill, which operates a location down the street at 3255 M St., remained optimistic regarding the prospects for Georgetown restaurants.
“Being near a university, Georgetown is one of our hot spots. We put our restaurants in locations where we think we are going to have strong daytime and nighttime traffic,” Winslow said.
In the meantime, a new Irish pub, Rí Rá, opened at 3125 M St. in the former location of Asian restaurant Mie N Yu which closed in October 2012.
According to a recent press release, Rí Rá aims to be “a true Irish pub experience.”
“We have artifacts and wood from Ireland that create a beautiful space that fits in really well with the Georgetown area,” said Andrew Christie, mid-Atlantic group business director for the Rí Rá Group of Companies, which also operates a Rí Rá pub in nearby Arlington, Va. “A neighborhood social gathering is really what an Irish pub should be all about,” Christie said.
Though Rí Rá attracted many Georgetown students in its first week, Rhino Bar and Pumphouse Manager George Kennedy was not worried about possible competition.
“They cater to a different clientele. There’s not really a competition factor,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy in fact characterized the opening of more bars as a positive development, pointing out that general foot traffic in Georgetown at night has declined since the bar Saloun closed in September 2011.
“There are fewer places to venture out in Georgetown than there used to be,” Kennedy said. “The more bars that become popular, the more people that will come to Georgetown. It’s a positive to have more [bars and restaurants].”
Emily Gaffney (MSB ’15) thought the pub brought a nice change to the Georgetown nightlife scene.
“I liked it a lot. I thought it was a fun new spot that was conducive to socializing and hanging out with your friends and had good drinks that would make me choose it over Rhino as a nice change,” Gaffney said.
In the retail industry, one new stores has opened and another will open this year: high-end clothing and accessories store Tory Burch, which opened November 2013 at 1211 Wisconsin Ave., and luxury resort-wear spot Calypso St. Barth, which is set to open this spring at 3307 M St. These Georgetown locations are the first for both brands in the D.C. area.
Students expressed excitement over the opening of the new Tory Burch store, though the high price point did dissuade them from making purchases.
“I know I’ll go in and see how pretty it is and just see what’s up to date, but I probably won’t buy anything in them, obviously, because I’m a broke student,” Emma Barnitt (MSB ’17) said.
Hill & Dale Records will also open a new location at 1054 31st St. on Feb. 7. Owned by Rob Norton, a Georgetown professor who teaches “The Art of Advocacy” in the Master of Science in Foreign Service program, the store will offer “new records and music-related photography, posters and collectibles,” according to Norton.
Despite the proliferation of digital music, Norton said that vinyl is a growing niche in the music industry.
“It’s an exciting time in the music business. People are switching to digital, but vinyl is growing,” Norton said.
Norton selected the Georgetown neighborhood after looking at other neighborhoods in D.C.
“I had been looking for space all over the District and focused on the U Street corridor and initially hadn’t thought about Georgetown, but when the space became available, I jumped right on it,” Norton said. “It sounded like a great opportunity, so I took it. Georgetown is a fantastic place to do business.”
While Devon McCann (COL ’16) would prefer lower-priced stores in the neighborhood, she understood that the area has bred an upscale retail environment.
“I think that’s what makes Georgetown Georgetown, is like the high-end stores, not saying that I support that because I can’t shop there at all, it’s just kind of a trait of Georgetown.”
Hoya Staff Writer Natasha Khan contributed reporting.