Waterfront eateries to reopen doors

More than a year and $10 million later, three restaurants along the Georgetown waterfront that were battered by a 10-foot wall of water are ready to reopen.

After replacing everything from walls and floors to kitchen equipment, the owners of Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, Nick’s Riverside Grille and Farmers Fishers Bakers said they will welcome back customers in the coming weeks.

The three businesses are the last to reopen after the flooding.

Farmers Fishers Bakers, formerly Farmers and Fishers, rebuilt from the ground up after the flood, creating a whole new restaurant through its $4.5 million redesign. The 340-seat venue will feature a redesigned outdoor patio and a new bar, said Jennifer Loy, director of marketing and public relations for The Farm, the restaurant’s parent company, which also owns the Founding Farmers restaurant at 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The restaurant will open in late October, Loy said.

“After the flood, they demolished the entire space,” Loy said. Everything in the restaurant started over from scratch, she said.

Media Credit: Ashley Lucas | Contributing Photo Editor

While Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place and Nick’s Riverside Grille have served food from their outdoor patios and grills for months, neither has served patrons indoors since before the flood. Both restaurants, which underwent a total of $5 million in renovations, will reopen Sept. 1.

The Georgetown waterfront flooding was one of several incidents around the District last year caused by the soggy spring. The city’s response to the flooding drew criticism when locals learned the waterfront’s floodwall – typically raised after concerns of heavy rain in the District – was not put into place until hours after the first floods were reported near Georgetown.

The Potomac spilled over at other waterfronts, like the Tidal Basin, East Potomac Park and Hains Point, days before.

Five businesses along the harbor shuttered immediately after the flood. Since then, MRP Realty invested $20 million in a redesign to bring shoppers back to the area. The company has planned a new fountain that will transform into a 12,000 square foot ice skating rink – the largest in the District – slated to open Dec. 1.

Owner Nicholas Cibel said he served food from both restaurants’ patios to keep customers’ interest, though at a “considerable loss” for his businesses. He kept on just 40 of his 150 employees to run the patio dining, and says it was worth it.

“We have been taking care of people that mean a lot to us,” Cibel said. “You can’t measure everything in dollars, I suppose.”

Cibel, who operates both restaurants with his father and cousin, said they were each designed with more modern looks. Tony and Joe’s embodies the ambiance of a cruise ship, he said, while Nick’s will feature a new concrete bar and sound system to create a more “vibrant atmosphere.”

He also hired a new executive chef, David Stein, to add more international flavors to both menus, like chicken curry and Korean-style beef ribs.

Nick’s is also growing in size as it acquires space from the former Mexican restaurant Cabanas, said Julie Chase, a spokeswoman for MRP Realty – the company that owns the waterfront property.

The company has not yet made a decision on what restaurant will occupy the remaining Cabanas space, Chase said.

The spokeswoman said she could not comment on revenue shortfalls for the businesses. The Hatchet reported in April, one year after the flood, that Farmers and Fishers lost between $6 million and $7 million in sales and suffered hundreds of thousands of dollars more in damages.

Greg Casten – the co-owner of Nick’s and Tony and Joe’s – said he could not quantify the financial losses of the two restaurants.

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