Western Market, Foggy Bottom’s new food hall, is set to open later this summer. When it does, expect to find an exciting variety of creative dining concepts and a new, vibrant destination for food, drink and entertainment.
Situated at 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. near George Washington University’s (GWU) campus, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the new food hall is poised to welcome a myriad of customers when it opens its doors.
“We have a diverse customer base,” says Tim Hill, vice president of investments at MRP Realty, which manages Western Market. “We wanted to make sure we provided an eclectic mix of vendors, so every customer has something to choose from.”
Aung Myint, who owns Bandoola Bowl and is opening a second outpost of the fast casual concept at the food hall, echoes these sentiments.
“I am very excited about IMF and the World Bank,” Myint says. “There are a lot of workers with many different cultures.”
He’s hoping the mix of nearby workers will be drawn to Bandoola Bowl’s fresh Southeast Asian salads. Ferry Huang, owner of Sushi Onkei, is also joining Western Market as a tenant. This will be Huang’s second operation, in addition to Sushi Keiko in Glover Park.
Western Market is expected to be a boon for weekday business, but Hill says the goal is ultimately to create a third place. He hopes to establish Western Market as a community destination by modifying key areas, like extending green spaces to allow for more seating.
There will also be a large perimeter by the south plaza to allow for future event space (think fitness classes and concerts). ExPat, a bar and restaurant with 8,000 sq. ft. of space for entertainment, arcades and table games, will also make its debut.
“We want to have a certain kind of culture and community building,” Hill adds. “The hope is to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and welcome.”
The name Western Market is a nod to the site’s historical significance. It stands on one of D.C.’s original three marketplaces built in 1802 as part of Pierre L’Enfant’s city plan.
“We love that Western Market is historic, [which gives it] unique character,” Hill says. “You really can’t build that, so [it’s something we wanted to] preserve and protect.”
Opening a food hall with multiple dining concepts during a pandemic presented its challenges. The project’s timeline was delayed due to construction interruptions, as well as the team’s desire to ensure proper Covid precautions.
Hill says these considerations “allow everyone to feel comfortable — whether they’re coming in, or just ordering delivery.”
Visitors can expect to find expanded outdoor seating areas, as well as opportunities to place delivery and pickup orders from vendors.
In total, Western Market will offer over a dozen restaurants with a variety of food and drink options by regional and local operators. Guests can enjoy a global dining experience with a lineup including Alitiko (classic Greek street foods); Arepa Zone (Venezuelan arepas, cachapas and tequeños); Capo Italian Deli (Italian deli-style subs); Nim Ali Shukos & Antojitos (Guatemalan street foods); and Roaming Rooster (homestyle Southern fried chicken); among others.
“The focus on regional vendors allows for a level of authenticity and uniqueness,” Hill says. “They really care about the success of this location. I think it’s important to curate the right mix of people — not just food types.”
For some, operating within a food hall will be a first — a feat that’s equally exciting and challenging. Myint, owner of Bandoola Bowl, is ready to tackle the transition from restaurant service to food hall.
“I’m a big fan of hospitality and think its art is kind of disappearing,” Myint says. “I love the Western Market group. I’m very excited about it.”
Patrick Zarifeh, Capo Italian Deli’s general manager, put it best.
“I think it’s exciting to be part of a good team. We’ll create a great atmosphere. We’ll face the challenges together — all of us.”
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.