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Ayoubi confirms the news to Y&H today. He believes part of the reason that they weren’t able to secure enough funding was because of all the pizza and Italian competition around them. “It’s going to be pizza, pizza, pizza all over,” Ayoubi says. “I really think that’s what the investors are worried about.”
He’s right about there being a lot of competition: Matchbox opens this week across the street, and an Italian bistro called M Cafe & Bar as well as an Italian gastropub called Ghibellina are coming a few blocks down. Last we heard, there are also two other unnamed Italian restaurants headed for the 14th Street corridor, including one from the owners of Standard and another from restaurateur Med Lahlou of Stoney’s, Tunnicliff’s Tavern, and Ulah Bistro.
As for what’s next for Ayoubi’s space at 1832 14th St. NW, he says he has a 20-year lease and is looking for potential partners to get another restaurant concept going. Whatever it is, it definitely won’t be Italian or pizza. “It has to be something the neighborhood needs,” Ayoubi says. “I’m looking forward to someone coming in with a more creative idea.”
If he can’t find a restaurant partner, he says he’s open to a gym, art gallery, office, or something non-food and beverage related. He already rents the ground level of the three-story building to a carpet shop.
Edan MacQuaid photo by Darrow Montgomery