Developer Edens plans to host a James Beard Foundation dinner featuring a heavyweight roster of D.C. chefs at the Capital City Market in June, a kickoff for the firm’s effort to transform the dilapidated wholesale district into a culinary destination for local foodies and chefs alike.
Referred to alternately as the Capital City Market and Florida Avenue Market, Edens is planning an overhaul of at least six parcels it owns or controls along 5th and 6th streets NE between Florida and New York avenues. It is re-branding the area Union Market, a historical name for the district, and hopes to create a high-end destination.
The Beard dinner — to be held in Eden’s building at 1309 5th St. NE, which suffered a fire in October — could be a major step in that direction. The New York City-based James Beard Foundation, named for the famed chef and cookbook author, supports culinary education and grants prestigious awards to restaurants and chefs, for which some locals were named semifinalists last week.
The foundation typically holds dinners in New York, but the June 3 “Sunday Supper” event in Washington aims to feature 250 guests with foods prepared by some of the city’s most renowned chefs, said Jodie W. McLean, Edens president and chief investment officer. They are R.J. Cooper of Rogue 24, Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola, Bryan Voltaggio of Volt, Mike Isabella of Graffiato, Katsuya Fukushima of Daikaya, Robert Weland of Cork, Nate Anda of Red Apron Butchery and Robb Duncan of Dolcezza Gelato.
“Each chef will be responsible for something on the menu, but it will really be served family style,” McLean said. “It’s about community, it’s about bringing people to together, it’s about quality. And it’s absolutely a celebrating of reopening the Union Market.”
Edens, the South Carolina-based developer of retail at CityVista in D.C. and the coming Mosaic District in Merrifield, plans on “preserving the authentic culinary story of the market itself and reopening it with a very high-quality market that will serve both wholesale and a retail need in D.C.,” McLean said. It has named chef Richard Brandenburg to direct “culinary strategy” for the project, and McLean said she plans to announce some operators in the next 30 days. Eventually the project is to include housing and a hotel.
Other companies control development rights to other parts of the market, but McLean said her company is prepared to take the first stab at redevelopment. “What we believe is really important is that the projects that we are doing really set the expectation of what will happen throughout the entire market, the entire area,” she said.
Tickets to the dinner are $200 for Beard Foundation members and $240 for the public.