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Joe H

Coming To Tysons: Morimoto, Coastal Flats,

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Are the four restaurants which have been announced for the fall opening which includes a food court and 16 theatre AMC stadium complex.


Edited by Joe H (log)

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Oh boy! more upscale chains!

As an outpost of a "chain" Coastal Flats is legitimately good. Wildfire and Shaw's are from Lettuce Entertain You and both extremely successful in the Chicago area. Morimoto's will be his second in the U. S. preceding his Manhattan opening. Overall these four are strong anchors for Tysons. Still, there is nothing from a "homebased" chef and I agree with you on this. My guess is that it is only the national companies or those with national reputations that can afford the exhorbitant rents that are being charged. What Tysons/Reston/Herndon/Vienna need is an area a couple of blocks off of the main drag where Donna/Jeff Black/Kinkead/Buben/O'Grady and others can open in an anchoring "cluster" such as an old town type of ambience where they can afford the kind of operation and overhead that we want to find down the street from where we live. Old Town Herndon does have this as does part of Vienna a block in from 123. Both have yet to be discovered by these and other chefs looking in the NoVa suburbs.

Hint to those who read this board.

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Oh boy! more upscale chains!

As an outpost of a "chain" Coastal Flats is legitimately good. Wildfire and Shaw's are from Lettuce Entertain You and both extremely successful in the Chicago area. Morimoto's will be his second in the U. S. preceding his Manhattan opening. Overall these four are strong anchors for Tysons. Still, there is nothing from a "homebased" chef and I agree with you on this. My guess is that it is only the national companies or those with national reputations that can afford the exhorbitant rents that are being charged. What Tysons/Reston/Herndon/Vienna need is an area a couple of blocks off of the main drag where Donna/Jeff Black/Kinkead/Buben/O'Grady and others can open in an anchoring "cluster" such as an old town type of ambience where they can afford the kind of operation and overhead that we want to find down the street from where we live. Old Town Herndon does have this as does part of Vienna a block in from 123. Both have yet to be discovered by these and other chefs looking in the NoVa suburbs.

Hint to those who read this board.

Joe,

You are describing the same thing that makes M St. in Georgetown so awful. Chains everywhere. Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn, Benetton, Adidas, Pizzeria Uno. The great used jeans place just closed. Woe.


Mark

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Joe,

You are describing the same thing that makes M St. in Georgetown so awful. Chains everywhere. Barnes and Noble, Pottery Barn, Benetton, Adidas, Pizzeria Uno. The great used jeans place just closed. Woe.

I had a discussion with Busboy and Mrs Busboy on that very topic Saturday night. The "mallification" of Georgetown appears to be complete and it's now moving east to Dupont Circle. Same stores, same chain fast food, same chain restaurants. I used to go back into DC to escape the sameness of the suburbs. Not much point to that anymore.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Quick, and without looking it up, how many Starfucks are there around DuPont Circle?

I remember first coming to DC in the late 80s to visit when Georgetown was a funky place with second hand stores and dive bars. Now all it really needs to become a mall is a roof over Wisconsin Ave.

Tyson's already is a mall and deserves the mall restaurants it gets.


If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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Quick, and without looking it up, how many Starfucks are there around DuPont Circle?

I lived at 20th and O St for a time. There were three Starbucks within walking distance then. Probably more now.

I remember first coming to DC in the late 80s to visit when Georgetown was a funky place with second hand stores and dive bars. Now all it really needs to become a mall is a roof over Wisconsin Ave.

Head shops, dive bars (anyone remember the place at Wisconsin and M that turned into Banana Republic? That was the beginning of the end), used clothing, no-name jewelry and clothes stores, restaurants....almost all gone now. Why go to Georgetown and shop at the same crap stores they have at any suburban mall?

There were a lot of empty store fronts on M St Saturday. Maybe the rents are a little too high?

Are some of the new places being talked about going into the mall extension under construction? It's hard to believe that place could get any bigger. It's such a pain in the ass to get to it and park that the only time I bother crossing the river is to shop occasionally at LL Bean.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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There were a lot of empty store fronts on M St Saturday.  Maybe the rents are a little too high?

To coin a phrase your right on the money here. Unfortunately I think the commercial real estate market is doing a couple things to these great restaurants and shops.

1) making it harder and harder to turn a profit due to the increase in rent leases etc.

2) making it hard to refuse an insane offer from a national chain willing to pay top dollar for a fantastic storefront with tons of collegiate foot traffic.

G-town used to have and edge to it....not so much anymore.

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One thing I have to ask Joe... What is a "legitimate chain"? All chains, regardless whether you find them legitimate or not, lack a soul. They are in it for one reason and one reason only, cash. It's not about the craft with them, it's about cramming as many people through their doors at a minimum cost, period. Just my opinion.


"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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I remember first coming to DC in the late 80s to visit when Georgetown was a funky place with second hand stores and dive bars. Now all it really needs to become a mall is a roof over Wisconsin Ave.

Me too--although, it was a bit earlier in the 80's. My friends and I would sometimes pile into a car and make the trek from Baltimore to go shopping for vintage clothes and see bands. An old boyfriend's band opened for the late, great Stiv Bators at the Bayou and he introduced me...my hero Stiv wasn't exactly much of a conversationalist, though. He was much more concerned with the needle he was sticking into his arm. Ah, yes, good times. The last time I was in Georgetown (more than a few years ago, at this point), I had the same urge to flee that I get anytime I'm in a shopping mall. I haven't been back since. Such a shame.

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I remember first coming to DC in the late 80s to visit when Georgetown was a funky place with second hand stores and dive bars. Now all it really needs to become a mall is a roof over Wisconsin Ave.

They could do a light show on the roof, just like Vegas. The M St. Experience.


Bill Russell

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I remember first coming to DC in the late 80s to visit when Georgetown was a funky place with second hand stores and dive bars. Now all it really needs to become a mall is a roof over Wisconsin Ave.

Head shops, dive bars (anyone remember the place at Wisconsin and M that turned into Banana Republic? That was the beginning of the end), used clothing, no-name jewelry and clothes stores, restaurants....almost all gone now. Why go to Georgetown and shop at the same crap stores they have at any suburban mall?

I visited a friend who was in school at Georgetown a number of times in the late 80s and remember the same thing. In fact, I distinctly remember a Greek Pizza (?) place on M that had a sort of house party-band and stayed open (and served beer) very late.

When back to the area last year, I was surprised by the fact that I could have been in any gentrified-urban-shopping-street-cum-tourist-mall in the country, all the same stores and restaurants.

So, are the economics such that the locals can't make it or are they deliberately trying to attract these chains thinking that they are giving the people what they want?


Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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Stephen,

If I were a commercial landlord, I would prefer to have the chains as tenants. There is minimal risk, since they have the cash flow to consistently pay their rent, and do so on time. They also have professional facilities personal to deal with. There is little downside for the building owners to lease to a large chain.

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I remember Dupont before the Starbucks invasion (And by my count there are at least 4 now...)

My favorite example of the demise of the area in to grasping commericialism is what happened to the Newsroom.

Remember when it was right on the corner of Connecticut and S? Right across from the Ruth Chris's?

Then the landlord got greedy and thought they could get more money by evicting the Newsroom and upgrading the property. I've lost track of how many years ago that was but the former Newsroom space is STILL empty. The Newsroom moved up the street a block--it isn't the same but it's still there at least... My husband and I both still do a small gleeful smile everytime we drive past and see the space is still gapingly empty.

To make this food related--I'm not chain averse, per se, but I'm not likely to find organic ingredients, locally grown produce and a minimal use of trans fats at a chain.

Jennifer

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One thing I have to ask Joe...  What is a "legitimate chain"?  All chains, regardless whether you find them legitimate or not, lack a soul.  They are in it for one reason and one reason only, cash.  It's not about the craft with them, it's about cramming as many people through their doors at a minimum cost, period.  Just my opinion.

How do you define a chain? More than one location? If so does that mean that Thomas Keller lost his drive for the "craft"? While his three restaurants have different names, they are owned by the same group. How about Ray's? Will that suddenly become nothing more than a place that is all about cash and cramming as many people through the door when the Silver Spring location opens?

It is also silly to think that people who only have one location do not care about making cash, or for that matter that all of them care about the "craft".

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So, get ready for a longer chain of "Ray's" establishments once Landrum gets the cash flow cranked up.

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One thing I have to ask Joe...  What is a "legitimate chain"?  All chains, regardless whether you find them legitimate or not, lack a soul.  They are in it for one reason and one reason only, cash.  It's not about the craft with them, it's about cramming as many people through their doors at a minimum cost, period.  Just my opinion.

I have no idea what a "legitimate chain" is. I said that Coastal Flats was "legitimately good" which it is.

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Obviously a chain is not simply a restaurant with multiple locations. A chain is a restaurant with its menu, ingredients, prices, staffing levels, etc determined by a corporate office. Often the restaurant is required to purchase most ingredients from a specific (usually not local) source. A chain will have generally the same menu at all locations.

One thing I have to ask Joe...  What is a "legitimate chain"?  All chains, regardless whether you find them legitimate or not, lack a soul.  They are in it for one reason and one reason only, cash.  It's not about the craft with them, it's about cramming as many people through their doors at a minimum cost, period.  Just my opinion.

How do you define a chain? More than one location? If so does that mean that Thomas Keller lost his drive for the "craft"? While his three restaurants have different names, they are owned by the same group. How about Ray's? Will that suddenly become nothing more than a place that is all about cash and cramming as many people through the door when the Silver Spring location opens?

It is also silly to think that people who only have one location do not care about making cash, or for that matter that all of them care about the "craft".


Edited by DCMark (log)

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For me this has become a very disappointing thread with not a single mention of my discussion of two areas in Northern VA which I felt would support the very type of restaurant that a half dozen or so people are complaining are disappearing. Especially with so many chefs who follow this board I am surprised that there has not been a comment on the two areas I mentioned.

As for Georgetown it has little in common with what it was in the '60's and this had little in common with the slums in the early '50's, which is exactly what it was then. We rarely go to Georgetown anymore, preferring Old Town. A shame since part of Georgetown, especially the area along the C & O canal is absolutely beautiful and a world apart from M street or Wisconsin avenue. I probably find other areas of DC more interesting today such as Adams Morgan or walking along Connecticut Avenue near Dupont circle which feels exactly like, say, Paris.

Banana Republic, McDonald's and several hundred more vanilla outposts are seemingly ubiquitous whether here or walking along any main street in Europe. A very real shame; sometimes I think the best we can hope for in certain areas is that a chain or a "link" from a group might move in that is somewhat better than the norm.

For Tyson's the four that are coming all represent, at a minimum, this last statement.

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Yes, I suppose you could say that these four places are better options than Ruby Tuesday and TGI Friday's. Which do you want, though? Upscale chains? Or neighborhood places? Unfortunately, the presence of the former tends to squeeze out the latter.

I'm having a hard time following why you're so "disappointed" here. Herndon and Vienna both have "old towns", - I grew up in Vienna and am not disparaging it, or Herndon- but I don't see why a restaurateur would necessarily choose them over any other suburb. Neither support the kind of foot traffic/tourism that you see in Old Town. And even if a local chef were to open a place there that was worth going to, there would be no guarantee of its success- take the now-closed St. Basil in Reston, for example. Great fried oysters, wonderful brick-oven pizzas. Place stayed empty most of the time, despite accolades from critics.

I think upscale, local places in the outer suburbs are challenged in a few ways: Less population density/foot traffic to drop in on a whim, reluctance of foodies inside the beltway to go "out there", different demographics-more families with kids that will go to places they feel comfortable bringing their children to- and lastly, competition from chains.

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I think upscale, local places in the outer suburbs are challenged in a few ways:  Less population density/foot traffic to drop in on a whim, reluctance of foodies inside the beltway to go "out there", different demographics-more families with kids that will go to places they feel comfortable bringing their children to- and lastly, competition from chains.

This is a really great point and I think it speaks directly to why there are not more L'Auberge etc. type of restaurants in the suburban areas of DC.

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St. Basil had a horrible location and was overpriced for where it was-an outdated shopping center that most in Reston are not actively aware exists. There are pockets in western Fairfax county where, despite the absence of foot traffic, a "destination" restaurant would succeed. Zefferelli's, The Russia House, Jimmy's Old Town Tavern, The Ice House Cafe all clustered in Old Town Herndon come to mind. Note that three of these four have all survived at least 15 years. A new smaller office building is currently under construction in the middle of this area that would seem suited to a restaurant. My guess is that rent in this building would not begin to approach, say, Tysons or Reston. In Vienna there are a number of enduring restaurants (Bonaroti, several French, Nizam)similar to the those mentioned above. None of these are outstanding. All are good to very good, all have loyal followings, all are successful and enduring, all are "destinations" (i.e. little foot traffic-people come because they know them).

I've heard many chefs say they would like to find somewhere in the Tysons to Dulles corridor yet are frustrated by the outrageous rents and start up costs of malls, Reston Town Center, etc. that are mandated. I am given two specific suggestions for where they should look and would be interested in any opinions from those on this board about them.

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I think upscale, local places in the outer suburbs are challenged in a few ways:  Less population density/foot traffic to drop in on a whim, reluctance of foodies inside the beltway to go "out there", different demographics-more families with kids that will go to places they feel comfortable bringing their children to- and lastly, competition from chains.

This is a really great point and I think it speaks directly to why there are not more L'Auberge etc. type of restaurants in the suburban areas of DC.

Why does a restaurant in the suburbs where 90% of the population of the D. C. metro area lives NEED anyone from inside the beltway to travel to it to survive? Why does there need to be foot traffic for a destination restaurant to survive? Why does every restaurant opening on every pad in the suburbs have to be marketed to families? And, the very fact that the competition from chains is THE competition is the reason that when an independently owned restaurant opens the frequency of it succeeding is greater than the frequency of a similar restaurant succeeding in D. C.?

I was born in D. C. and have lived downtown, in Montgomery County and in Reston. I am struck by people in the suburbs who really don't "understand" D. C. and who rarely go into it except perhaps to work, having any real idea of what Washington is all about. Similarly I am struck by people in D. C. who assume that the world "outside the Beltway" is all vans, pads and chains. Both have much to learn from the other.

Tysons is every bit as urban as downtown Washington. Bonefish Grill squarely markets itself to adults with its supper club ambience and after 5 opening. No it's not Black Salt nor Kinkead's. But the four that have opened in the past two years are all successful, clearly demonstrating that the very LACK of adult restaurants is what helps ensure the success of a decent one (albiet part of a chain) when it does open. There are a half dozen examples of decent to good individually owned restaurants in Western Fairfax that have been open 5 years + (i.e. EuroBistro, SBC Cafe, etc.) and are successful.

Leesburg supports Tuscarora Mill, Lightfoot Cafe and Zaferelli's second restaurant, all in or near an old Town "pocket" (if you will) close to a 100+ store outlet mall, a new Costco and Super Target and countless clones of outposts of national chains.

There is no foot traffic in front of any of them. Certainly not like Old Town or Georgetown or Adams Morgan. Yet all three would fit into any of these neighborhoods and survive. I could also add not only Old Town Fairfax but also independently owned restaurants that have surivived for 10+ years intermingled with the strip shopping centers on the nearby Lee highway. And a dozen other areas in Fairfax County, a dozen more in Montgomery (Olney?) not even counting Bethesda; look at Jerry's Seafood in Lanham which is the best Maryland style seafood restaurant in the Washington area and rarely mentioned on here. Clearly, there is NO foot traffic in Lanham! It's in its third decade now.

Great Falls has several restaurants in two or three different locations marketing themselves not to families but to adults. I am not including L'auberge in this. But L'auberge does illustrate a point: the actual lack of or paucity of these types of restaurants generates a great deal of interest when one does open. If it's decent it will survive. If it's good it will be successful. If it's excellent even those from "inside the beltway" will drive out to it.


Edited by Joe H (log)

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