Last Friday during a tour of his construction site, Mike Isabella — chef, future restaurant owner, newfound sex symbol for obsessive followers of “Top Chef All-Stars” — was explaining the hassles of building out his own space. He was already behind schedule, Isabella said, and he still didn’t have any utilities hooked up: gas, water or electric.
As if he had conjured them out of thin air, workers with the water authority showed up a few minutes later to start carefully pulling up the sidewalk — brick by fragile brick — so they could dig a trench and install a pipe to Graffiato , Isabella’s Italian-inspired restaurant behind Verizon Center.
Nearly a week later, the water line is almost done. Even better, the gas is installed, and Isabella should, if the utility gods are merciful, have electricity soon, which is good. Construction crews have been working off generators.
Ah, the joys of restaurant ownership.
Utilities have been a major part of the slow-down, Isabella told me during the tour. The power needs of a modern, 120-seat restaurant are far greater than a 1940s-era print shop, which is what had occupied the Sixth Street NW space for years. All the evidence you need can be viewed in the electrical “room” photos after the jump. The print shop required only a few boxes attached to a brick wall; Graffiato needs an entire dedicated room.
Isabella hopes to have Graffiato up and running by mid-June. But then again, at one point, he thought he’d have his place open early this year. In other words, don’t circle any dates on your calendar yet.
More photos after the jump.