When David Choi parted ways with Wall Street, not long after the subprime mortgage crisis threw us into recession, the former investment banker cold-called Mark Furstenberg and convinced the chef and baker to open G Street Food together in 2009. From the start, the street-food-themed operation struggled to find an audience, despite a quick expansion of the menu and despite engineering one of the best (if untraditional) banh mi sandwiches in the area.
Within weeks of opening, Choi and consultant Furstenberg went their separate ways. Furstenberg's now in the process of opening Bread Furst on Connecticut Avenue NW, which could debut as early as February. Choi is in the process of opening his third location of G Street Food on 15th Street NW, which he hopes to launch in mid-December.
Clearly neither man suffered, or suffered much, from the split four years ago.
"At the end of the day, I think Mark provided us with valuable skills that we wouldn’t have learned otherwise," Choi says during a phone conversation today. "He is an excellent baker and an excellent chef, and I appreciate the relationship we had, despite the differences…I give him all the credit for being the food artist that he is.”
The third location will be G Street's largest yet. The 5,400-square-foot space at 1030 15th Street NW (within sniffing distance of The Post!) will also be the most ambitious: It will expand its menu, its operating hours and even its drink offerings to include beer and wine, perhaps even local beer and wine.
Unlike the other two G Streets, which close in the late afternoon, the new location will stay open until 10 p.m. or so, Choi says. Beyond breakfast items, crackly homemade bagels and an international line-up of sandwiches, the 120-seat spot on 15th Street will serve a dinner menu of tapas, paella, steamed mussels, stir-fries, steam buns and other dishes.
The evening menu, in other words, will feature "a lot of items that obviously are difficult to serve at a quick-serve" lunch spot, Choi notes.
Choi has been interviewing chefs for the new gig and may have already found the perfect hire. But the owner is not ready to name names. "I don’t think D.C. in general would recognized the person’s name," Choi says, "but the person has a ton of experience.”
So what was the key to G Street's success after Furstenberg walked off into the sunset? Interestingly enough, Choi says the key has been change itself. G Street has not been afraid to adapt — and adapt quickly — as demand calls for it. G Street has added menu items, and taken them off, as a dish's popularity waxes and wanes. "Variety and change," Choi says, "that's what keep people coming back."
If it sounds like G Street Food is headed toward Sweetgreen territory — a homegrown chain with an eye toward rapid expansion —you might not be far off the mark.
"I would like to [add more locations]. I'm not sure how many more G Street Foods that we could pop up in downtown D.C. because the rents are so high," he says. "Not just for me, but I think it would be awesome for more local companies to grow and expand their footprint."
G Street Food, 1030 15th St. NW. Expected to open mid-December.