Students looking for a late-night snack on campus will have to wait a little longer for their dreams of greasy diner dishes to come true.
Foggy Bottom businessman Kris Hart has delayed his plans to open a “Jersey-style” diner on campus after hitting snags with at least two potential locations. Hart, who also owns Relaxed Spa & Tans and Foggy Bottom Grocery, has so far attempted to open the diner at the Shops at 2000 Penn and in a townhouse next to FoBoGro.
Hart said the only possible location left of the three he’s considered is in the soon-to-be renovated Allen Lee hotel. That renovation project, which will begin later this month, include plans for a restaurant in the building. Hart said he’s approached the developers about putting the diner there, but he’s also willing to make the restaurant a pizzeria, which the planners have said they would prefer.
“There’s a bidding process, and we’d have to get approval,” he said. “That’s definitely a location I would be interested in.”
Hart said the project, which student leaders have craved for the past two years, is now at a standstill. If the alumnus manages to open a diner, it would be one of the only late-night options in Foggy Bottom.
“The problem for me right now is location. If it’s not convenient and accessible, students and residents won’t go to it,” Hart said.
When Hart looked into putting the diner in the Shops at 2000 Penn, the complex that is home to campus staples like Chipotle and Bertucci’s, he said the University did not want a restaurant in the building open late at night.
Six of the 17 stores in the Shops at 2000 Penn have suffered losses in sales, which many owners have said stem from the opening of The Avenue. In 2012, student leaders pushed GW to consider more mom-and-pop shops when choosing restaurants to enter new developments like the Science and Engineering Hall.
Hart said he had also considered placing the diner in the white townhouse next to FoBoGro, and he would have named it “The White House Diner.” But he said changing the site from a residential to commercial property would be a “monumental struggle.” The townhouse, which he said has sat empty for almost 10 years, has a property value of almost $900,000, according to records from the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue.
Patrick Kennedy, chairman of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the diner that Hart envisions would help fill a niche in the community.
“Hopefully it would be a community center, and it would increase the vitality of the area,” he said.