Despite the bustling sidewalks around the DC USA Mall, Columbia Heights still has some empty storefronts and some restaurants that have been “coming soon” for an eternity. Near CommonWealth pub on Irving Street, there are signs for a sushi eatery and a Caribbean-influenced restaurant (Zinnia, I believe it’s called). On that same retail row, there’s also still one un-leased ground level spot. And the situation’s similar across 14th Street where a sign for “Royal Blue Mediterranean Bistro” has been posted behind glass for as long as I can remember. Fortunately here, change is afoot, says John Groth, Marketing Director for Donatelli Development, which owns all of the aforementioned restaurant spaces.
“I guess they had some issues with their build out. But I’ve been in there recently and talked to the construction guys and they’re very, very far along,” he says . “I would be shocked if it wasn’t ready in terms of the build-out to be opened in the next couple of months.” The space is being leased out by Khalid Raji and Jawad Laouaouda. The Washington Business Journalpreviously reported that Raji “planned to spend about $800,000 on the build-out of his 2,500-square-foot space.” In mid August, there was a tiny flurry of reporting about the establishment on DonRockwell.com and Dcist, indicating that the cuisine was going to be Moroccan-influenced.
So what does the space look like? It’s two levels, according to Groth. There’s balcony seating upstairs. “There’s kind of a big curved bar when you come in. I think one whole wall of the restaurant is the ‘wine cellar.'”