Washington Harbour Business is Trying to Stay Positive Months After the Flood
The April flood at the Georgetown waterfront was "disappointing," but Tony and Joes's Greg Casten now sees it as “an opportunity to start it new.”
Almost four months after the April flood filled waterfront restaurants with eight feet of water, destroying the dining, storage and kitchen areas, tenants are considering the future of the Washington Harbour complex and trying to stay positive.
“The complex still looks like a boarded up flood zone” said Casten.
He called the damage to his family's businesses “heartbreaking” and financially "traumatic."
Casten reopened in May with outside seating only and outdoor grills cooking a simple menu to try to take advantage of the busy summer season.
The summer grill, though offering a "unique feel" to the patio area, has not even begun to make up for the loss of an inside dining space, explained Casten.
"We're not really making a lot of money at the Harbour,” he said. “The bulk of our business has been done on the inside” in the past.
After the flood they had to cancel weddings scheduled for the space and long-standing banquet held there annually.
The loss has been a sacrifice for Casten and his family. But keeping the patio area open has been about “keeping guys employed” and “that in and of itself is worth it" he said.
The Washington Harbour's property management company MRP Realty was already working on plans for renovations and redesigns of the complex before the flood.
"We are really focused on getting new restaurants up and running for them," said Jennifer DeMeo, a vice president at MRP.
Casten said his hope is that the new plans will “really make it pop” at the Harbour.
Since the flood “it’s become a much more comprehensive look at this project” than it would have been, he said.
While MRP and its restaurant tenants work through the details, DeMeo said the company is already starting to make the more minor changes to the upper plaza, such as new awnings and entrances to businesses like Bangkok Joe's.
"Ideally everything will be done by next season," she said, including the changes to the restaurants on the lower plaza.
The Near Future
The renovations will not be the only changes at the Harbour. Casten said in all likelihood his restaurant “Cabanas will not come back." He is still negotiating a long-term lease with the property manager for Nick's and Tony and Joe's.
As for the summer grill, Casten hopes to be able to continue serving outside for as long as the weather permits.
"Obviously we’d love for them to stay open for as long as the weather holds," said DeMeo.
But the winter months make sense for the bulk of the construction to take place.
"It's ideal to knock it out in the cold weather when the Harbour is typically quiet anyway," she said.
Of course he flood and its aftermath have been "disappointing" said Casten, but now he sees it as “an opportunity to start it new.”