“All our customers are asking what we’ll do,” she said. “But the rent these days is so high, we don’t know if we can survive” elsewhere.
Shah said her rent currently runs about $2,000 a month, and she expects to pay a few times that much for space outside the pavilion.
Shah said she hasn’t decided if she’ll open another restaurant — she used to own Nirvana in Northwest D.C., which closed in 2010. A couple of weeks ago, her husband opened a food truck called the Chatpat Truck, parking it at various locations in Northwest D.C. during lunch. Shah is considering moving all their operations to the food truck, and hopes to keep her five staff members.
She said it might be good for her business to get out of the Old Post Office, which she said has fallen into disrepair. Aside from the lunchtime rush, “locals don’t come here anymore,” she said, noting most of the traffic was from tourists.
Shah has one other fallback plan if her food business struggles once they leave the pavilion. When business is slow at Indian Delight, she said she sometimes sketches. “I’m also an artist. Maybe this is a cue for me” to pursue art, she said.
Donita Carlos, her mother and her two sisters have owned and managed several food vendors and shops at the pavilion for the past 16 years. Carlos runs Panda Cafe, which serves Chinese food.
She and her family are planning to move their businesses, but would like to remain as close to the pavilion as possible because of the tourist traffic through Federal Triangle. Tours of the Old Post Office and its clock tour typically bring hundreds of tourists into the food court during the spring and summer.
“We already have groups that will definitely be here. We can expect people,” she said.
But she said it has been difficult to find one location to accommodate all the family’s enterprises. Having most of her family just steps from her food stand allows Carlos to help out if something goes wrong, and vice versa, she said — but it’s a benefit she’ll have to give up on in the future.
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