Longtime D.C. restaurant Old Ebbitt Grill is expanding for the first time and more locations of the new spot, to be dubbed Ebbitt House, could follow.
Clyde’s which owns Old Ebbitt, the city’s oldest restaurant, is planning to open a spinoff called Ebbitt House in Reston in 2025. The Reston Station restaurant will be a “suburban” version of the flagship located adjacent to the White House on 15th Street NW.
The inaugural Ebbitt House is set to have 300 seats indoors plus two bars and 125 seats outdoors on a patio with an additional bar. The menu, while still being firmed up, will be similar to Old Ebbitt Grill, which serves steaks, seafood, American classics, and has a raw bar.
It’s a return to Reston for Clyde’s, which closed its location at Reston Town Center nearly a year ago after three decades in that location. The Georgetown, Gallery Place, Alexandria, and Chevy Chase restaurants remain open.
Jeff Owens, Clyde’s Restaurant Group’s Chief Financial Officer, told DCist/WAMU that the Reston restaurant is a model that could be replicated in other markets. The reason for the new name? It’s the original name of Old Ebbitt Grill. Plus, Old Ebbitt is, essentially, one-of-a-kind.
“It’s not like we could just choose a suburban location somewhere and have another Old Ebbitt Grill. Just because of the architecture, history, and decor of the original,” he said. “It wouldn’t be right to duplicate that in a different setting. So, we basically came up with this kind of suburban version.”
For one, Ebbitt House will be located on the ground floor of a modern mixed-use building with apartments stacked on top. That’s far different than the original’s location at 675 15th Street NW, a Beaux-Arts building that once was the site of B. F. Keith’s Theater. It’s also where famed magician Harry Houdini once hung upside down in a straitjacket.
Reston Station was also attractive because of its location near the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station on Metro’s Silver Line. Owens said that the Reston Station Ebbitt House is just the first of these suburban models the restaurant group is exploring — they’re already eyeing sites throughout the region for others.
In addition to adding more Ebbitt Houses, Clyde’s is focusing on adding other restaurants with a smaller footprint and more narrowly focused menus. That potentially includes 7,000 to 8,000-square-foot restaurants centered on seafood, sushi, and pizza.
“There’s one that is geared towards the 20 and 30-something crowd really focused on the indoor/outdoor bar-centric with music and tvs… with wood-fired pizza,” Owens said. “That’s a different vibe and concept for us.”
Owens confirmed they are looking at a number of similar sites in the region, including around the Crystal City and soon-to-open Potomac Yard Metro stations.
For the moment, the restaurant group remains focused on the D.C.-area, but Owens acknowledged they could potentially be interested in expanding elsewhere in the not-so-far-off future.
While growth is coming, a few more recent developments have made the restaurant group consider other changes to its business model. Continued recovery from the pandemic and inflation has made margins even slimmer, Owens said.
Menu prices have gone up by about 14%, he said, while operating expenses have risen by nearly 30%. The minimum wage in D.C. is also set to increase for tipped workers in May and, again, in July.
While there’s hope that prices will stop going up, the reality is that might mean cutting back or adding an extra (and potentially fraught) service charge, he said.
Owens didn’t say exactly how the group’s dozen restaurants will adjust, only that they are looking at all possibilities and want to avoid making it more confusing for diners. He also said the increasing minimum wage in D.C. is also playing a part in where the restaurant is looking to expand.
“We have a lot of restaurants in the city and we love them,” Owens said. “And when we are looking at new locations, we certainly have to consider the fact that there’s an uncertain environment of how things are going to unfold in the District.”
For the moment, though, Clyde’s Restaurant Group is focused on opening up Ebbitt House in Reston in less than two years.
“Old Ebbitt Grill, I call it a unicorn of a restaurant. So many people from all walks of life feel comfortable there… we’ve always wanted to expand that brand,” Owens said. “We hope Ebbitt House is our suburban model of that.”
Source : Dcist