Washington becomes efficient. And all it took was the departure of seemingly half the city for an extended, long-weekend getaway. Like all of life’s smallest pleasures, this pause on chaos has an expiration date: the day after Labor Day, when everyone gets back to business.
But until then, Mavis Baah is getting 30 extra minutes of sleep each day, since she’s not fighting as much Northern Virginia traffic. “I can maybe put some more makeup on, curl my hair,” the senior associate at Washington Media Group said. “I don’t feel like I’m rushing out the door, then dealing with traffic and Metro delays. . . . This week has been a break.”
She was also able to get same-day reservations last week at Zaytinya for Restaurant Week. Which may not be surprising if you’ve eaten out recently.
“It seemed a bit easier to walk in” last week, said Sarah Mamula, a hostess at Le Diplomate, one of the most-sought-after seats on 14th Street NW. She said that as of Tuesday morning, there were still many reservations available Sunday and Monday at prime brunch times — between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. While Mamula said it would be tough to estimate the wait times for walk-in visitors this week, parties of two who arrive early are often quickly seated outside.
Georgetown Cupcake, the sweet shop with the semi-permanent line down the block on 33rd Street NW, looked practically abandoned from the outside on Tuesday afternoon. Inside, there were only seven people waiting for their peaches-and-cream and chocolate-peanut-butter-twist cupcakes. There was no difficulty enforcing a rule printed on the window: “Please keep door closed to keep cupcakes fresh.”
Blaine Trueblood emerged from the shop with her little pink box, grateful for the lack of wait time. “Usually when I pre-order, I still have to wait 30 minutes or more,” she said.
The break isn’t welcomed by everyone, though.
“This is the worst week” to be prepping to open, said Ivan Iricanin, standing amid workers at Georgetown El Centro restaurant, which will not be debuting as soon as he’d hoped.
“We experience [this week] to be slow with permits,” he said. “Nobody told me they’re on vacation, but I assume. It takes longer to get things done.” Iricanin, who is also partner in the original El Centro restaurant — as well as Ambar, Masa 14 and other restaurants in town — said that this was the slowest restaurant permitting process he has experienced. He expects that the new El Centro will open within two weeks.
At the same time, it’s not a bad week for a new business to get into a rhythm. Thally, a new restaurant at 1316 Ninth St. NW, spent Tuesday afternoon prepping for its grand opening that night, complete with a few hiccups: Not all of the beers on Thally’s list would be available because the restaurant’s distributor had taken the week off. Co-owner Sherman Outhuok had to find another wholesaler to fill the gap.