Drastic change is coming to a neighborhood grocery store located on the southwest edge of campus.
A pair of GW graduates and one current junior plan to drastically revamp the Foggy Bottom Grocery store, located near the corner of 22nd and F streets. The trio said they will renovate the three-story townhouse to create a takeout and delivery sandwich and pizza shop on the first floor, and install a grocery store with a diverse beer and wine selection on the second and third floors of the building.
Kris Hart, a former Student Association president who graduated in 2005, signed a lease with the University, which owns the building, on Wednesday. Devlin Keating, a 2006 School of Business graduate, and current junior Daniel Blake will help manage the business. Hart would not specify what the team is paying for the lease, but said the three plan to invest several hundred thousand dollars into renovating the purple building.
“We’re doing an enormous amount of renovations. We’re really gutting it and putting in a whole new fa?ade,” Hart said. The F Street mural, located on the side of the grocery store and painted by a GW graduate, will not be affected by the construction.
The new Foggy Bottom Grocery will also have a different moniker. New branding will refer to the grocery store, delivery service, and takeout areas as “FoBoGro,” “FoBo on the Go,” and “FoBo Grub,” respectively. Hart said the store will have a Web site where customers can order groceries or takeout food for pick-up and delivery.
Though the new owners have not yet decided on a final menu, Keating said the first floor will provide sandwiches and pizza. The team is working with food consultants to maximize the small kitchen space, and the menu will depend on the equipment they can fit in the space, Keating said.
The men said pricing will be competitive with other food options in the area.
“We’d really like to try to keep it down, because I understand students don’t want to be spending $10 on a sandwich,” Hart said. “But the most important thing right now is quality.”
In addition to the store, Hart hopes to partner with the community, Greek-letter organizations and other student organizations to provide discounts and hold barbecues, parties and tailgates. The team also wants the store to be staffed and run by GW students, something Hart said will provide jobs and give students in the School of Business real-world management experience.
Hart, who also owns Relaxed Day Spa, a tanning salon and spa near the corner of 21st and F streets, said he first considered taking over the grocery store in November 2007 when Meseret Bekele, the former owner of the store, approached him.
“She’d been there almost 20 years and she was ready to move on to another project, and so we started talking,” Hart said. “We approached GW with a 60-page business plan and we made an offer.”
Hart said the store has already procured a liquor license and a certificate of occupancy, two permits necessary to install the planned vending areas.
“What we want to do is make it a one-stop place, where you can get your pizza, you can get your six-pack or bottle of wine, you can get your toiletries,” Hart said. “With the beer, I think we’re going to get a really diverse selection, like random beers you don’t know about or you could get an interesting, cool six-pack, or we’ll feature wine.”
Though the men hope the renovations will be complete by the start of school, Hart said making everything perfect is the top priority.
“We’d love to be open by September, but we want to do it right,” Hart said. “So if it means taking a little bit longer, then we’ll go ahead and sacrifice getting open by September 1st to make it good.”