Growth Spurt: Student growth boosts economy

Foggy Bottom business owners say they are looking forward to a year of increased revenue because of a larger student population. Grocery stores, shops and restaurants situated near campus report a boost in student business from a noticeably larger freshman class.

“I see more new faces than usual and have been selling more this year,” said Afnan Dirawi, who manages Foggy Bottom Grocery on F Street.

Dirawi said the biggest increase has been in grocery sales. The store also sells beer and wine.

Freshman Alex Mackay speculated that the rise in grocery demand is a result of the University putting refrigerators in all rooms in Thurston Hall.

“We go to Provisions every week and stock up on food and go elsewhere for beer. We have a lot of space now,” Mackay said.

GW Deli manager John Ambrogi said as the school year goes on, more new students have visited the store.

“Our business is definitely starting to pick up, but some freshmen still don’t know about us,” Ambrogi said.

Restaurants in the area report getting more business as well. Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria, located in the 2000 Penn complex has many GW student customers and employees.

Bertucci’s manager Tasfaye Nuressa said there has been a constant flow of GW students seeking both food and jobs.

“Most staff here are GW students,” Nuressa said. “We are getting quite a few applications.”

Students should be prepared to face long waits for tables at local restaurants such as Bertucci’s and T.G.I. Friday’s.

“The weekends are always really busy,” Nuressa said.

Some restaurants said business has slowed because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a general recession, which has caused fewer employees from office buildings to go out for lunch, he said, adding “outside of GW it has been kind of slow.”

Au Bon Pain, another restaurant at 2000 Penn, said their sales numbers have been about the same as last year.

“We are doing about the same, we hope it picks up because we realize school may not be in full swing,” Au Bon Pain assistant manager Nicholas Mueck said. “New students don’t know about Au Bon Pain yet, and we just started our later hours.”

The cafe is now open until 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Sunday until 10 p.m.

“We are expecting it to get busier at the beginning of October,” Mueck said.

Other types of stores are also feeling the presence of a larger student body.

Tower Video has accepted a “about a couple hundred” new freshmen memberships, employee Lauren Kauffman said.

“We are getting many new freshmen clientele and it has been constantly busy,” she said. “Things are running out pretty quickly during the weekends with all these students renting movies.”

Students said they are beginning to feel overwhelmed and somewhat frustrated by crowded local businesses.

“Places are definitely crowded, and it gets annoying,” freshman Cole Brueger said. “With all the freshmen restricted to the campus because they don’t have cars and have to live here, we pack the places in the area.”

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