Pop-Up Shops, Colorado Microbrews: The Best Restaurant/Retail Trends of 2011

by Rebecca Cooper

The crowd at the Mt. Pleasant Temporium. (Photo courtesy Mt. Pleasant Temporium)

In keeping with this week’s year-end theme here at UrbanTurf, we decided to highlight three restaurant/retail trends that we noted this year in Neighborhood Eats, elsewhere on the site, and just through casual observation.

Pop-Up Shops

2011 was a banner year for pop-up concepts in DC, ranging from month-long artisan craft events to posh pop-ups run by seasoned retail veterans.

The Mt. Pleasant Temporium took up residence in the space now home to Nana at 3068 Mt. Pleasant Street NW for three weeks in February and March, netting more than $31,000 for its vendors. Fashion:district treated shoppers to the best that D.C.-area designers had to offer, once at the Longview Gallery and at three locations around the city in the fall.

A bunch of the city’s creative and retail minds also organized Refinery 29 to coincide with Digital Capital week this year. THE HOME at 1629 L Street NE hosted the first pop-up shop at the event, which brought together independent retailers, designers, artists, and bake-at-home bakers.

Not to be left out of the craze, were high-end furniture retailers and food trucks. West Elm decided to go pop-up on M Street in Georgetown. They opened in July, and their lease runs until the end of the year. Food trucks also got in on the action with Uncurbed D.C., a partnership between building owners and food truck operators that gives a truck an indoor space to host sit-down customers for a short period of time. The first guinea pig was BBQ Bus D.C., which took up residence at 2805 M Street NW from Dec. 13-17, but more projects are on the way.

Food trucks opening brick and mortar restaurants, or at least saying they are

Only a couple years after the food truck scene took off, a number of D.C.‘s mobile entrepreneurs are now seeing how their concepts work at more stable locations.

Following in the footsteps of trailblazer District Taco, which opened up its strip mall taqueria based on the success of a robust food truck business, international food truck Sauca opened in a former Bob & Edith’s diner at 4707 Columbia Pike in Arlington. Downtown D.C. Bolivian food cart Pedro & Vinny’s opened in a tiny shop in the corner of a parking lot at 2599 Columbia Pike a few months later.

The cavernous interior of District of Pi.

St. Louis-style pizza truck District of Pi made its transition from truck to permanent store in September, breaking away from food truck operators’ tendency to start small by opening up a 5,000-square foot, 200-seat pizza restaurant in Penn Quarter. Just last week, the Sol Mexican Grill truck filed a permit for a liquor license to open a restaurant in place of Danny’s Chinese carryout restaurant on H Street NE. Tasty Kabob halal food trucks, PORC Mobile barbecue barons, and recently shuttered truck Sabor’a Street all say they are looking for restaurant locations where the price is right.

(It should be noted this trend has gone in the other direction as well, that is, restaurants starting food trucks. Remember Sixth & Rye, the Jewish deli food truck from Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery and We the Pizza? There’s also Surfside Truck DC, the taco truck that spawned this summer from the restaurant of the same name in Glover Park.)

It’s everywhere.

New Belgium

Okay, so you may be thinking, “can one brewery’s beers really be a trend?” Given the absolute freak-out this city had over the arrival of various New Belgium brewery beers this summer, we would argue yes.

Adding to the Colorado microbrewery’s trendworthiness is the fact that its beers are ubiquitous. Everyone, including the likes of Safeway and 7-Eleven — which rarely boast many legitimate craft beers among their selections — is carrying Fat Tire, and many of the area’s growing cadre of bars with great beer lists are carrying multiple beers from New Belgium.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/pop_up_shops_colorado_microbrews_best_restaurant_retail_trends_of_2011/4821

1 Comment

  1. Penn Quarter Resident said at 3:12 pm on Monday December 26, 2011:

    District of Pi signed the lease for 910 F Street long before they had their food truck roaming the streets of DC. The food truck turned out to be a great marketing tool for the place, introducing a wide audience to their pizza style months before their place opened.  If you checked the blogs like PennQuarterLiving you would know how long in advance they were planning on a restaurant.

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