A year after flooding, Georgetown waterfront restaurants plan further repairs

A year after the Potomac River flooded Georgetown’s waterfront, some restaurants are still shuttered while undergoing substantial repairs.

Flooding from rain and wind at the Washington Harbour last April forced a handful of restaurants dotting the waterfront to shut their doors. Eateries will continue to reopen this summer as broader renovations to the plaza progress, adding a new fountain that will turn into a wintertime ice rink.

Seven feet of water soaked Farmers and Fishers, which will remain boarded up for at least another eight months, Jennifer Loy, the restaurant’s director of marketing and public relations, said.

The water produced mold and destroyed furniture and kitchen supplies. The eatery is in what she called a “cold dark shell phase” – meaning the building is empty besides its structural columns – and an entirely new restaurant must be constructed.

She said Farmers and Fishers has faced property losses worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and about $6 million to $7 million in sales. The restaurant also lost about 120 employees.

“It was a huge disappointment,” Loy said.

The waterfront’s floodwall – typically raised when there are flood warnings – was not put up until hours after the first flood reports emerged last April. Other locations in the District flooded days before, including parts of the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and Hains Point.

The restaurant is negotiating a new lease with the landlord before it can begin reconstruction. She added that Farmers and Fishers plans to revisit its insurance policy so that it is covered in case of future flooding.

“We are absolutely dedicated to seeing the restaurant open,” Loy said. “We love the location.”

The Washington Harbour as a whole did not lose a significant amount of business due to the flooding, Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MRP Realty, which owns the plaza, said.

Most restaurants that shut down after the flood – including Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place and Nick’s Riverside Grille – reopened just a few weeks later, cooking and serving drinks outdoors without using their damaged kitchens, Chase said. She added that those eateries plan to welcome customers back to remodeled dining spaces with functional kitchens in June.

Cabanas, a Mexican restaurant that has not reopened its doors since the flooding, will merge with Nick’s.

Russell Smith, a manager at Sequoia, said the restaurant along the waterfront shut down for three and a half weeks after 10 feet of water filled its foyer. Sequoia lost about $100,000 in revenue from the temporary closure, though the water did not reach its dining room or kitchen.

Chase declined to comment on costs incurred from flood damages to the Washington Harbour.

MRP Realty announced a $20 million makeover for the plaza in September that was planned before the flooding, including a 12,000 square foot ice rink that, if built, would be the largest in the District. It would open in place of the harbour’s fountain during winters.

Construction on the plaza’s lower level began in mid-March and is projected for completion by the end of 2012. The ice rink is slated to open in winter 2013.

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