Where Will It Go? The Eataly Location Puzzle

by Rebecca Cooper

image
Eataly in New York City. By Jeffrey Tastes.

The prospect of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich bringing their gargantuan Eataly concept to DC has had the local foodie world quite excited over the last two weeks. While news of the massive Italian gourmet market-bar-restaurant combo coming to DC next year is certainly buzz-worthy, it raises a pretty natural follow-up question: Where could such a large establishment go in the city?

The New York “food temple” as Batali likes to call it takes up the entire ground floor and rooftop of a building in one of Manhattan’s busiest and most central neighborhoods — the Flatiron district. Eataly’s website cites a square footage of 50,000 for the New York location; the partners are apparently looking for something along the lines of 35,000 to 38,000 square feet in DC.

For some perspective on how large that is, the total retail space at the Boilermaker Shops (map) at The Yards project in Southeast DC is 34,500 square feet. That much space will be occupied by five different establishments — a microbrewery, a bakery, an Austin grill, a burger joint, and a 24-hour diner.

For its DC location, Eataly’s parent company is looking for at least 35,000 square feet, all on one level, and with high ceilings, those in the know are telling UrbanTurf. (We’re thinking there should also be some courtyard or other outdoor element, given the existing locations’ beer garden component.)

So, where could it go?

“It’s got to be somewhere with lots of foot traffic and lots of tourists,” Tom Papadopoulos of Papadopoulos Properties told UrbanTurf. “So you’re talking Georgetown, 7th Street, maybe Connecticut Avenue and K Street, or downtown, like 14th and F, where you can find something of that size that can generate the sales.”

The former 35,000 square-foot Border’s bookstore space at 14th Street and F Street NW (map) might’ve fit the bill, but it is on two levels and will house a new concept from the folks behind Clyde’s. There’s another empty Borders downtown at 18th and L Streets NW (map) but it might be ruled out because it is also on two levels.

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Inside Eataly. By The Bode.

“The old ESPN Zone is available, but that’s more than one level,” Papadopoulos noted of the now-closed space at 555 12th Street NW (map).

One ambitious commenter on last week’s Neighborhood Eats column suggested that the labyrinthine Dupont Underground (the network of tunnels and open space under Dupont Circle) would be a cool venue for Eataly.

Those working on the project would love to house the concept, but the timing for anything happening at the space doesn’t fit with Eataly’s declaration that it will open in DC next year.

“It’s not an easy requirement,” said John Gogos of Papadopoulos Properties, noting that Carmine’s, an Italian restaurant on 7th Street, takes up about 12,000 square feet, and other large restaurants are in the 8,000 square-foot range. “To find 38,000 square feet on one level, you’re talking the retail level of an office building that takes up one entire city block.”

Brokers are no doubt scrambling to see what they have to offer Eataly, and from what we’re hearing, no lease has been signed and the company is still reviewing sites.

There are spaces in NoMa that could probably accommodate the large-scale food market and restaurant concept, but Eataly is likely looking for a more established neighborhood in which to be located. The new City Center (map) development will have enough space, but it isn’t expected to begin delivering for another two years, and it may be looking for several smaller tenants, rather than one large one.

What do you think? Is there anywhere you think the folks behind Eataly should check out?

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/where_will_it_go_the_eataly_location_puzzle/3805

12 Comments

  1. Derrick said at 8:52 am on Friday July 15, 2011:

    The 18th and L location wouldn’t be bad, but I would love to see it in some place like logan or shaw.

  1. dave said at 9:37 am on Friday July 15, 2011:

    I think it should take over the entire low level of gtown park.

  1. wdc said at 10:06 am on Friday July 15, 2011:

    Hard to find that kind of space in a spot with significant foot traffic.  Closest available entire city block I can think of in a reasonably desirable location is the 200 block of H St NE, which is close to Union Station & the Capitol.  I think they’re calling it Capitol Place.  Downtown-Gallery Place seems like the obvious location, but it’s hard to imagine that much space being available there and Eataly would be a draw anywhere decent and accessible.

  1. JohnDC said at 10:16 am on Friday July 15, 2011:

    Southern NOMA, closer to union station would have the foot traffic & tourist they’d want. And as the neighborhood gets built out it’ll be very centrally located. Two apartment buildings are under construction right now.

  1. SG said at 10:22 am on Friday July 15, 2011:

    The perfect location for it, in terms of the building, is the Madison-Marquette Blue Castle Building on M St Se across from the Navy Yard.  You’d have daytime lunchers from Navy Yard, US DOT HQ, and hill staffers (maybe with a shuttle?), and it’s a destination enough that people would mob it on weekends.

  1. FD said at 10:35 am on Friday July 15, 2011:

    City Center would be perfect, but the timing doesn’t seem to work.

  1. John said at 1:41 pm on Friday July 15, 2011:

    I don’t think Navy Yard is ready although it would be a great location for Eataly 2 in 5-10 years.  Every time I bike by now it’s a ghost town. I think people are wishfully hoping it ends up near them (myself included) but lets be honest. It’s probably Georgetown, Downtown, or Dupont.
    Personally I think Dave is right.  The ground floor of Georgetown Park is available and the aesthetics are great. There is a ton of natural light, tile floors, plants, and fountains already in place.  Not sure where their beergarden would go but if they could get a permit to set up a row of tables by the Canal (Venice-Canal, get it?) that would be an amazing spot to have a beer.  I know Target was interested in taking over the whole floor but just at the mention neighbors were poised to protest.  Eataly would be welcomed with open arms though I’m sure.
    I don’t live near Gtown,  just giving an honest guess where it might end up.  Personally I would rather it go to Dupont because that’s closer to me and metro accessible. If they located in the Dupont Underground though I think they need to put in some skylights to get some light down there. I remember when the old food court was there and it was dreary.

  1. Ken said at 2:34 pm on Friday July 15, 2011:

    What about the space at DCUSA where the organic market from Richmond was supposed to move in?  Not sure how big that space was, and it would be a great addition to the Columbia Heights scene!

  1. chris said at 2:42 pm on Friday July 15, 2011:

    At one point, the rumors were pointing towards Tysons.  Sounds like it leaning back toward the city.  I agree with John, Dupont, Georgetown and Downtown are the most likely.  NoMa, and Navy Yard are probably a little too off the beaten path for now.

  1. Anon said at 10:56 am on Sunday July 17, 2011:

    There aren’t enough people in the entire city to support this venture.  They should go to Chicago (if they aren’t already there.)

  1. Dinty said at 12:19 pm on Monday July 18, 2011:

    Is all the space at the old Woodie’s building taken?  It’s not too far from the mall and 7th-9th Sts. foot traffic, had high ceilings, but no parking.  Looking forward to the opening.

  1. Ariell said at 9:10 pm on Wednesday December 14, 2011:

    What about the lil mall behind Kinkhead’s on Penn and 20th?? Gosh, isn’t perfect ?!

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