Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.
Some people have lamented that the new Paul Bakery restaurant that is to open next to the Banana Republic in Georgetown is a chain. While it’s fair to complain about the lack of genuinely exciting or even interesting restaurants in Georgetown, one of the things Georgetown’s definitely not is chain-dominated.
As of my latest count, there are 126 restaurants in Georgetown. Of those, only 20 are part of a big chain. An additional 5 more are part of a regional chain (i.e. Five Guys).
So even if you lump the regional chains in with the national chains, there are still only 25 chain restaurants in Georgetown. That’s less that 20%. And the number of chains is unchanged from last year, while the number of independent restaurants has increased.
Is the Georgetown restaurant scene a little threadbare? Absolutely*. Does it seem like no new and interesting restaurants open here? You bet. But that’s a product of a lot of forces, only some of which are controllable.
The two largest factors are the liquor license and the rents. With the Georgetown moratorium, unless you were one of the lucky few that snagged one of the new licenses that were issued last year, you’re stuck buying an existing license, which can run upwards of $70,000.
And even if you secure a license, you’ve got to find a good space that you can afford (and that doesn’t require much construction). There just are only so many of those spaces available, partially because there are already 126 restaurants in Georgetown!.
But neither of those factors is likely to change in the near future. Is there anything we can do to attract new and interesting restaurants (of the kind that opens up in Logan and H St. every week or so) if we can’t change these two factors? I wish I knew the answer to that question, but I suspect the answer is “no”.
*Are there places I still love? Sure. But most people would agree that the vast majority of Georgetown’s dining fare is pretty boring.
Cross-posted on the Georgetown Metropolitan.