Busboys and Poets in Del Ray?
Del Ray Citizens Association President Bill Hendrickson believes Busboys and Poets would be a good fit on East Monroe Avenue.
By Bill Hendrickson
President of the Del Ray Citizens Association
Busboys and Poets in Del Ray?
That was the intriguing possibility raised at a meeting I had last fall with staff at the City’s Department of Planning and Zoning.
The idea came up after I asked staff to examine reuse or redevelopment options for the Giant supermarket and CVS pharmacy sites on East Monroe Avenue. Giant plans to open a much larger supermarket in Potomac Yard in about three years, and it thus may close the much smaller store on Monroe.
Staff is not optimistic about coordinated redevelopment of the Giant and CVS properties for the next several years to a decade or so.
But staff took a look at possible options for a new tenant of the supermarket space if Giant leaves. Busboys and Poets was a possible candidate.
I like the idea, and I am raising it now because we need an ongoing community discussion about what we would like to see in that building if Giant departs. If we’re not proactive in seeking out tenants, we’ll obviously have to accept what we get.
I’m also raising the idea because of some interesting remarks made by Busboys owner Andy Shallal in a Feb. 28 article in The Washington Post about the new Busboys announced for the Takoma neighborhood near the DC-Maryland line.
Shallal said he has been receiving a stream of emails and phone calls from Takoma residents asking him to open there ever since he opened his first Busboys in Washington, DC, in 2005. That community outreach eventually succeeded.
“I think Takoma is a great, progressive community and a place where a lot of our customers already live,” Shallal said in the Post article.
Del Ray is that type of community as well.
On its website, Busboys and Poets describes itself as “a community gathering place” and “a community resource for artists, activists, writers, thinkers and dreamers.” It is also a restaurant and bar.
A Busboys in the Giant space would attract not only existing Del Ray residents but its location would be near the new apartment buildings now open or being built at Potomac Yard and near the Braddock Metro station. Many young professionals are moving or will move into these buildings, exactly the type of clientele that tends to frequent Busboys.
If Busboys moved into the Giant, the planning staff anticipates that there could be some significant building renovation and landscaping upgrades. The entrance area with the canopy could become an outdoor dining area.
I still would prefer to see a much larger but neighborhood-serving supermarket and pharmacy on the Giant and CVS sites. That scenario is endorsed in the 2005 Mount Vernon Avenue Business Area Plan, which the community strongly supported.
But if complete redevelopment of the Giant and CVS sites can’t happen anytime soon, it seems that Busboys and Poets would be an attractive alternative.
To those of you who agree, I say, “Let the email stream begin.”