- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 3, 2003

Vidalia is peeling away its layers. The 10-year-old Southern-cuisine eatery located at 1990 M St. NW has shut its doors for a $1 million renovation.

The restaurant makeover will include glass walls filled with magnolias, two new private dining rooms and an extensive wine bar with a vaulted ceiling. Adamstein & Demetriou Architects, a D.C. architecture and interior design firm, is the mastermind behind the design.

Chef Jeffrey Buben, who owns Vidalia and Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill with his wife, Sallie, says Vidalia’s location needed an overhaul so they decided to make it a floor-to-ceiling renovation.

“We wanted to create the restaurant of our dreams,” he said. “And create something new and exciting for Washington, too.”

Patrons won’t recognize the revamped restaurant, except for its Southern cuisine. In fact, almost everything inside the restaurant from candlesticks, wall sconces and artwork to dining chairs, booth seats and oak railings were auctioned July 28.

The proceeds from the auction are not available yet, and Mr. Buben isn’t expecting them to pay for much. Still, he says, every bit helps and the money probably will “pay for an oven.”

The inside of the restaurant has been demolished and construction is on a tight schedule, Mr. Buben said. He expects to get his staff back by Aug. 25 for training.

The improved Vidalia is scheduled to open in early September.

D.C. wins over NAACP

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has selected Washington as the site for its 2006 annual meeting, which will draw an estimated 17,000 people. The conference, scheduled for July 15-19, will pump an estimated $6 million into the District.

The District competed against Orlando, Fla., for the 2006 convention. The NAACP will meet in Philadelphia in 2004 and Milwaukee the following year.

Retail Rummage

• Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is opening a store in Fairfax on Sept. 5. The 22,500-square-foot store, located at Fairfax Corner, will have 50 employees. REI has locations in College Park and Timonium, Md., and Bailey’s Crossroads, Va.

• Arhaus Furniture, an upscale home-furnishings chain, will open a 14,800-square-foot store in Fairfax later this month. The company will hire 12 to 14 interior design consultants to work at the store. This will be the first location in Virginia for the Ohio-based retailer, which offers home decor from lamps and handmade pillows to dining and bedroom furniture. Arhaus will open another location in Richmond in September.

• Babies R Us has signed a lease for 30,719 square feet at the Festival at Waldorf, a 501,000-square-foot shopping center in Waldorf, Md. The store, part of the Toys R Us chain, is expected to open in December. Madison Retail Group represented the landlord in the transaction and Sax Realty represented Babies R Us.

• Office Depot, the office supply superstore chain, opened three stores in the Washington area last month. The stores, which are about 16,000 square feet and have about 40 employees, are located in Alexandria, Arlington and Rosedale, Md. Office Depot has more than 30 stores in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

• Gold’s Gym will move back to the gym’s former site in Clarendon, Va., in early 2005. The facility closed earlier this year so the site at 2900 Clarendon Blvd. could be redeveloped. The 21,000-square-foot gym will be part of a mixed-use development that will include residential, retail and office space. JBG Rosenfeld Retail represented Gold’s Gym in the transaction.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Retail and Hospitality appears every other Monday.

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