Johnny Rockets to open in February

The Johnny Rockets set to open in the Shops at 2000 Penn should be ready for business in February 2007, restaurant officials said.

The California-based company plans to open its fourth D.C. location in part of the space formerly occupied by the Gap on 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The 1950s diner-style chain decided to open the store after Gap left last spring.

A spokesperson from The Gap told The Hatchet in July that the company decided not to renew its lease due to corporate decisions to invest elsewhere. The second floor of the space left by the Gap is currently not available for lease, said Leslie Korn, director of GW Investment Real Estate.

Johnny Rockets is keeping on track for a February opening, said Mike Dobrota, Johnny Rockets’ senior vice president for development. Although hiring won’t occur until the end of 2006, the company has obtained a full building permit and began demolition work.

“Every city is tough. We had to go through the permit process like everyone else,” Dobrota said. “Every retailer would like to have a quicker process, but it just doesn’t work like that.”

The Shops at 2000 Penn restaurant will be the District’s fourth Johnny Rockets, joining locations in Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Union Station. The Georgetown site has been open for about six years, while the restaurant in Dupont Circle has only been open since July. Both the Georgetown and Dupont Circle restaurants are within a mile’s walk from Foggy Bottom.

“We aren’t worried (about the close locations) at all,” Dobrota said. “There are plenty of people to go around.”

Dobrota said Johnny Rockets hasn’t discussed becoming a Colonial Cash partner with the University yet, but expects the company to engage in negotiations in the future.

Although the 2000 Penn complex is owned by the University, it is Johnny Rocket’s responsibility to obtain building permits.

Junior Fahmida Matani plans to eat at Johnny Rockets when it opens.

“Their ice cream is really good,” Matani said. “I don’t go to the Georgetown Johnny Rockets too often, but I probably make a hike out there at least once every two months.”

Sophomore Katrina Walasik said she will probably still go to the Georgetown location instead.

“The only time I ever go to Johnny Rockets is when I’m in Georgetown and have no where else to eat.”

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