What restaurant should go here?

The post earlier today outlined a recommended strategy from Richard Layman for restaurants in emerging neighborhoods. I also highlighted details about a possible destination for a new restaurant: The Penzance Building. The address is located across from 400 Mass and adjacent to the Dumont.

Sunken patio along Mass Ave

What type of restaurant do you envision taking advantage of this indoor & outdoor space in the near future? Chime in with your suggestions in the comments. Remember we want a successful business that can afford downtown rent which isn’t as simple as naming your favorite restaurant.

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  1. 1

    Anonymous says

    I think Richard Layman’s analysis is correct. Some “mainstream” restaurants that might thrive in the Penzance Building are:

    — Chevy’s: Mexican is popular for lunch and dinner, and the happy hour crowd would go for margaritas.
    — Cheesecake Factory: Something for everybody for lunch, dinner, or brunch.
    — Maggiano’s Little Italy: The closest other Maggiano’s in the DC-area is in Chevy Chase.

    Once City Vista and the Dumont are populated and the Safeway opens, I think the Triangle would attract enough foot-traffic to support these kinds of restaurants — similar to the Clarendon, Pentagon City, and Crystal City areas in NoVa.

    If you look at the latest map posted on the Mount Vernon Community Improvement District website, it appears that 455 Mass is also slated to house Lawry’s Prime Rib.

    See: http://www.mountvernontriangle.org/map/mappop2.html

  2. 2

    mediocre bad guy says

    I don’t know…I feel like this is a really beautiful, glassy, soaring space and something modern and unique would benefit the community by not just making us the extension of 7th street that harbors all of those Anytown, USA establishments. I’m agree that it should follow a similar model but not so much that it needs to be a chain.

    How about something along the lines of an OYA, or a Zaytinya?

    If don’t know if I can get myself to live anywhere near a Chevy’s.

  3. 3

    Anonymous says

    I agree with mediocre bad guy. I’m sick of the chains. Give us something unique and exciting!

  4. 4

    Anonymous says

    I’m with Anonymous 17:31 – not all of us in the area think that “mainstream” restaurants are bad. I would step into a restaurant that I’m familiar with before stepping into one that at first glance appears trendy and more expensive than the mainstream ones. (Notice I said “appears”). There’s no reason to have all of one type or another – have a mix of restaurant types and let teh market decide which ones survive and which ones don’t.

    Also, on your poll on how you arrive in the Triangle area … you left out one very important mode of transportation – walking. I’m at the edge of MVT and will walk the 5-6 blocks into the heart of MVT instead of hoppping on the Metro.

  5. 5

    fourthandeye says

    Good catch on the Lawry’s Prime Rib on the CID map. The copy I downloaded of that map to my hard drive back in April didn’t have the Lawry’s or Ledo’s on it. The CID site has the appearance of rarely being updated – it has Madrigal Lofts opening as the one of the 3 “what’s new” stories. But I guess they stealthly updated the map recently =)

    I suppose Lawrys does follow the Layman model in that it’s American food. But looking at the menus at their other locations I don’t see the types of mid-range priced dinner options that would garner frequent repeat business from residents. You can’t even get a burger for dinner there. That means either salad for an entree or spending $35 before you even add drinks. It seems strictly like destination dining than part destination part neighborhood serving.

    If not for Ledo’s being immediately next store I would have suggested that a Pizza place like Piola would have been nice. Not for the entire space by maybe 1/3 of the space.

    A place I visited in Seattle called “Sport” would also be great for the space. It’s right next to the Space Needle and so it’s been profitable enough to pay high rents.=) Seattle Times’ review had this to say about the venue and food: “Designed for sports fans of all ages, John Howie’s comfortable, family-friendly restaurant and bar in the shadow of the Space Needle has 48 TV screens: some giant, some small enough to fit in each booth. The menu includes wings (five flavors), thin-crusted pizzas, fat deli sandwiches and Kobe beef burgers. Those in the mood to brandish knife and fork should order the expertly grilled steak or the king salmon fillet and an Italian chop chop salad laced with Salumi salami.

    I’d also like the Mexican idea but hopefully not Chevy’s.

    If the pick was going to be pricey like Lawry’s I think a place like Calle Ocho would have been more inspired.

  6. 6

    DC Jeff says

    I was actually going to mention that I know Lawry’s was close to signing a lease. The head of the project was pretty confident. That was about a month ago, so I don’t know what ever came of it.

  7. 7

    Mr. Q says

    Not a chain like Chevy’s but not a trendy place like Oya…

    Something along the lines of a local place like a Lauriol Plaza (East)…doesn’t have to BE Lauriol, but something like it…

    Although if Lauriol did do it, they’d do a killer business in that location…

  8. 8

    Richard Layman says

    Ironically, when I was on the ANC6C zoning committee, I argued pretty vociferously for a restaurant in this building… or maybe it was in the condominium building next door. This was probably in 2005.

    I made the comments that as Massachusetts becomes a housing street and an avenue where people walk, “neighborhood” restaurants, in addition of course to the coming Ledo’s Pizza (and note, the Ledo’s on Upper Georgia Ave. kicks a**–I live in Ward 4 now) that restaurants in these locations will be quite important and likely to be successful, given the amount of housing in the vicinity.

    Not to mention being important to building street activity and vitality. I suggested as an example a restaurant that is on the ground floor of a small hotel on New Hampshire Ave. NW (west of Dupont Circle). It wasn’t successful, but I think that was a marketing failure more than anything. (It was an outpost of Georgetown’s Peacock Cafe and they had good stuff.)

    I am now of the opinion that neighborhoods with commercial space need to create “retail plans” to cover this and related matters.

    Lauriol is an interesting suggestion. It’s an odd place. The food isn’t that great. But man is it successful (although I do like the warm salsa and of course the patios). But it is an example of neighborhood places in dense areas with limited competition (Cafe Deluxe in Cathedral Heights is another) totally kick and make tons of money, more money than made by typical restaurants in a downtown central business business district.