- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2001

HOSPITALITY & RETAIL

D.C. officials have headed to Philadelphia to woo association executives hoping to attract millions of dollars to the District in new convention business.
A D.C. delegation, including Mayor Anthony A. Williams and executives from the Washington Convention Center Authority and the Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corp. are marketing the city at the American Society of Association Executives' annual meeting which ends tomorrow.
D.C. officials are selling the city especially the new convention center as a prime location for association to hold their annual meetings, conventions and trade shows.
"Hundreds of millions of dollars will be walking around that trade show," says Bill Hanbury, president of the newly formed Washington DC Convention and Tourism Corp. "We believe this trade show is the most important marketing forum for D.C."
More than 6,000 participants are expected to be there including some of the associations' key decision makers those who decide where their group's next meetings will be held. In addition, Washington will face stiff competition from cities like Philadelphia, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.
Washington is also facing competition from the slowing economy, which has caused many businesses including those in the meetings industry to cut back on their travel. A recent report from PriceWaterhouse-Coopers showed the meetings industry is still sensitive to fluctuations in the economy.
Mr. Hanbury says this four-day convention is the best place for the District to showcase the new convention center.
The District's trade show booth will feature a $100,000 virtual reality tour of the new 2.3-million-square-foot convention center, expected to open in March 2003. Convention goers will also get new brochures valued at about $50,000 that highlights the convention center's floor plans and gives them a sense of what the building will look like.
"We have not had the aggressiveness or the resources to play in the big leagues before," Mr. Hanbury says. "We're hopeful we will connect with at least 500 serious prospects."
Currently there are 150 bookings scheduled at the new convention center.

CompUSA's expansion

CompUSA is hitting the Washington area with its new cozy and smaller concept.
Cozone, a new high-tech computer boutique, is expected to open two stores in Arlington and Reston on Sept. 7.
The 6,000-square-foot stores will have a smaller selection with much more unique high-tech gadgets including everything from an assortment of camcorders and DVD players to a mini-camera that small enough to pin onto a collar. The stores will even have Internet kiosks.
"We wanted to try a venture different from our superstore concept," says Jim Paddock, vice president of store planning Comp- USA.
CompUSA, which has 218 superstores, opened its first Cozone store in San Diego in June. The fourth store is expected to open outside Dallas in November.
"Cozone could be a viable growth vehicle for us in the future," Mr. Paddock says.

On the lookout

Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzeria has hired JBG Rosenfeld Retail to scout out new locations in Maryland. The pizza chain, owned by NE Restaurant Co., plans to open 12 locations here over the next year.
Bertucci's already has two locations in the District, four in Virginia and five in Maryland. The closest Maryland restaurants to Washington are in Annapolis and Columbia.
JBG Rosenfeld, of Bethesda, will target communities around the Capital Beltway, including Rockville, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Greenbelt, Bowie, Germantown and Bethesda.
Bertucci's requires about 6,000-square-feet of space for each restaurant.

New in town

A new Latin American restaurant and lounge called Gua-Rapo is opening at 2039 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington next month.
Restaurateur Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld owns the 8,000-square-foot location as well as the Chi-Cha Lounge on U Street. Gua-Rapo, which will have a tapas-style menu, will seat about 160 people and will have 25 to 30 employees.
Wagshal's, a D.C.-based delicatessen, is expanding outside the city. The privately owned chain is opening a 2,400-square-foot location at Sumner Place in Bethesda.
Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.

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