Johnny Rockets set to open in April

The Johnny Rockets restaurant being built in the Shops at 2000 Penn will open in April, two months later than expected.

Normal construction and permit delays were the main cause of the two-month delay, said Johnny Rockets’ Senior Vice President for Development Mike Dobrota. He added that most retail businesses would like a quicker permit process, but it’s not realistic.

“Every city is tough,” he said. “We had to go through the permit process like everyone else.”

The diner-style restaurant opening this spring at the intersection of 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue will be the chain’s fourth location in the D.C. area. Johnny Rockets decided to move into the space after the Gap decided not to renew its lease last spring.

Although the Foggy Bottom location will be within a mile of Johnny Rockets at Georgetown, Dupont Circle and Union Station, it shouldn’t have an adverse affect on its business, Dobrota said.

“We aren’t worried at all,” he said. “There are plenty of people to go around.”

Johnny Rockets has not made a decision on becoming a GWorld partner, said Johnny Rockets’ Senior Vice President of Marketing Mimi Somerman. She said they haven’t started hiring staff members and don’t have a set opening date yet.

“The local management team will be hiring staff in anticipation of the opening,” Somerman said.

Johnny Rockets announced last month it is removing trans-fat from its menu by July 2007. Somerman said it is part of the company’s decision to move toward a healthier menu. She added that other healthy options include salads and the option of substituting a ground turkey patty or a soy-based Boca Burger.

“Our goal is to provide our guests with the high quality taste and flavor that they have come to expect and enjoy from Johnny Rockets,” Somerman said.

While the restaurant is filling Gap’s vacated space, another empty storefront in the Shops at 2000 Penn has not been officially occupied. The two-story space formerly leased to Tower Records does not have a contracted replacement said Matt Lindsay, GW’s assistant director of Media Relations.

He added that the University is looking into potential replacements, with the goal of meeting student and community needs.

A future tenant would continue to offer services and products that are oriented toward students and the neighborhood, as well as fit with the merchandising mix of the mall,” he said.

Students had their own ideas of what new business would best meet the community’s needs. Requests ranged from healthier restaurant options to entertainment.

Freshman Brianna Spahn said whatever moves in, it should be a GWorld partner. She said a movie theater would be her first choice.

“If it would fit, which it might not,” she added. “We definitely need one closer to us on campus.”

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