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Serendipity 3 Opens in Georgetown, Fills Long-Vacant, High-Traffic Spot

A D.C. version of the famed New York City restaurant opened on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street on Monday.

Why not start lunch with dessert?

At least, this is what sisters Jood and Jada Lalaswad asked themselves when they sat down at the brand-new Serendipity 3 in Georgetown on Tuesday afternoon. After all, it was dessert - namely, the restaurant's famous "frrrozen" hot chocolate - that beckoned them in to begin with.

"I heard about it on Oprah," said Jada, a Fairfax County resident. "She was basically saying how amazing it was ... and I'm a big chocoholic. I definitely wanted to try it."

So the girls ordered one to split. But one wasn't enough. As they sat eating their salads and a flatbread pizza, they had another "fro-ho" delivered to the table.

And the Lalaswad sisters aren't the only ones. Rodrigo Garcia, one of the new restaurant's two principal partners, said the $9 "frrrozen" hot chocolate is Serendipity 3's hottest menu item. Two-hundred were dished up on Memorial Day - the restaurant's opening day - alone.

"We're pretty confident they are going to be our biggest seller," Garcia said.

But Garcia acknowledges that ice cream sales won't be enough to sustain a business in this high-rent property on the southeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street.

That's why when he and co-partner Britt Swan began considering development options for the space, Serendipity 3, which also features a full bar, lunch and dinner menu, seemed like a good fit.

"We know the power of the brand and we have full confidence it will have the same success here," he said.

The restaurant's original location, which opened in 1954, is situated on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It has been hailed by everyone from Andy Warhol and Bill Clinton to the "High School Musical" cast.

The New York City location was also prominently featured in the 2001 movie "Serendipity," starring Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. It has become as well known for its "frrrozen" hot chocolate - a trademarked name - as it has for its notoriously long waits.

But on Tuesday afternoon, in between the lunch and dinner crowds, there was no wait at the Georgetown location, which seats 125 diners.

The restaurant opened without much publicity on Memorial Day and Garcia called this "soft launch" intentional. Word got out, though. Five-hundred tables were served on Monday.

The partners would not disclose their financial investment in the property or details of the lease agreement, but said considerable renovations, including upgrades to the air conditioning system, were completed before opening. It took the developers a year longer than they anticipated to open the restaurant, which has stood vacant since July 2009, when Nathan's closed.

Nancy Miyahira, marketing director for the Georgetown Business Improvement District, said the opening of Serendipity 3 signals good things for the entire local business community.

"We are thrilled that, at such a prominent location within the neighborhood, a fun destination business such as Serendipty 3 has opened, and will be of wide appeal to many," Miyahira wrote in an email to Patch. "It continues to strengthen Georgetown’s overall business climate, and appeal as a destination for both local and out-of-market visitors."

Joe Giannino, general manager of the on M Street and president of the Georgetown Business Association, said the restaurant's location makes it an ideal launching pad for diners who want to shop at other local businesses before or after their meal. He also appreciates the fact that the developers have local roots.

"It's fantastic news," Giannino said. "Georgetown does have a lot of opportunities for dining, for lunch, and having another new one is terrific."

Garcia said he is hopeful that the opening day momentum will continue. He also claims the developers have two things working in their favor: "It's the best piece of real estate in the city," he said. And "There's a bit of a sweet tooth craze in Georgetown."

Serendipity 3 is located at 3150 M St. NW in Georgetown. A copy of full menu is available online

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