Where Will It Go? The Eataly Location Puzzle

  • July 15th 2011

by Rebecca Cooper

Where Will It Go? The Eataly Location Puzzle: Figure 1
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.

Where Will It Go? The Eataly Location Puzzle: Figure 2
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 https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/where_will_it_go_the_eataly_location_puzzle/3805.

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