Less than three weeks into its three-month residency at EatsPlace, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. is parting ways with the Park View “pop-uppery.” The biscuit maker wrote on Facebook that it would be “refocusing our business on our brick and mortar,” although it has not yet locked down a location.
“Mason Dixie grew a lot in the time span it took to open up at EatsPlace. I think we kind of grew out of that business model,” co-owner Ayeshah Abuelhiga tells Y&H. At the time they signed on to EatsPlace, she and her partners, Mo Cherry and Jason Gehring, had no idea the volume of interest they would receive or that they would win the LaunchPad competition from food incubator Mess Hall that sent even more resources their way. The rush of support made them realize they needed to “shift into high gear.”
Meanwhile, Mason Dixie was only open weekdays at EatsPlace, and fans were asking for them on weekends. (EatsPlace’s other pop-up, D.C. Born & Raised, uses the space to serve brunch on weekends.) While the business was making profits, it wasn’t getting the margins it needed, in large part because of the limited daytime foot traffic on weekdays. EatsPlace also decided to close on Mondays beginning this week.
“We are a small business, so we had to be smart about where we allocate our time, resources, and money,” Abuelhiga says. Instead, Mason Dixie will focus on weekend pop-ups elsewhere for now. (Stay tuned for a big announcement soon.) Working out of the kitchen at Mess Hall, the biscuit biz also plans to start taking catering orders in the coming week. In addition, several retailers are interested in carrying the products, as are food-delivery services.
One of the big lessons that Mason Dixie’s owners learned from EatsPlace is that people tend to grab breakfast close to their offices, rather than close to their homes. They’re focusing their search for space in Capitol Hill, Foggy Bottom, Dupont Circle, or Mt. Vernon Square. Depending on the location and liquor license situation, the shop may offer full-service dinner and alcohol in evenings in addition to its biscuit sandwiches and platters. They hope to open up in spring of 2015.
EatsPlace founder Katy Chang says she plans to make an announcement soon about who will pop-up next. She also sent Y&H the following e-mail:
“We’re thankful that Mason Dixie was one of the first to have a residency at EatsPlace, and I’m proud of their brick and mortar shop opening so soon! Pop ups are designed to move on, but I totally understand the heartbreak when they close. Hopefully that’s partially offset knowing that they’re successfully moving on to a permanent space and that allows opportunities for new food entrepreneurs. And part of the fun is to see who is popping up next!”
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, this story initially stated that EatsPlace is now closed Monday and Tuesday. In fact, it’s only closed Monday. (Kitchen space continues to be rented out every day of the week.)
Photo by January Jai courtesy Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.