- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2003

Workers are still putting finishing touches on the Washington Convention Center, though it opened at the end of March.

The 2.3 million-square-foot building still needs some loose ends tied up, including dry-wall touch-ups, painting, repainting, electrical work and street-scape modifications.

“It’s winding down,” said Tony Robinson, a spokesman for the Washington Convention Center Authority.

The workers should be done by October at the latest, he said.

The cost of the building through March 31 was $833 million. The price tag for the extra work since opening day has not been determined, Mr. Robinson said.

In addition to construction work, installation of 85 to 100 pieces of art will continue throughout the summer. The $4 million program will include original photographs, paintings, sculptures and tapestries from artists around the world. About half of the works are by local artists.

Most of the 44,000 square feet of retail space in the center still needs to be filled.

One food court and 18 portable food carts are operational. Supreme Court, which opened April 24, includes Wolfgang Puck Express, Quiznos and Foggy Bottom Grill. Another smaller area overlooking the exhibit floor will include Foggy Bottom and Phillips Seafood. An opening date has not been scheduled.

An 18,000-square-foot casual dining area, called Executive Orders, will feature seven brands, including Foggy Bottom, Wolfgang Puck and Phillips. The other brands have not been determined. Executive Orders is expected to open in late summer.

Centerplate and National Business Services Enterprises Inc. are providing the catering and food-service management.

On the move

Rio Grande Cafe, a Mexican restaurant chain, is opening one location and relocating another in the D.C. area.

A 10,000-square-foot restaurant is expected to open early next year at Fairfax Corner, a mixed-use development in Fairfax. Rio Grande in Bethesda on Fairmont Avenue is relocating to a 10,000-square-foot space at Bethesda Row. Both locations will seat about 220 people.

Rio Grande, which is part of Dallas-based Uncle Julio’s Corp., has three other locations in the Washington area: Reston, Ballston and Gaithersburg.

But there is still room in the market for more locations, says John Asadoorian of Asadoorian Retail Solutions, which has represented Rio Grande for more than 10 years.

His company is looking for locations that will not compete with existing Rio Grande restaurants. He’s looking at areas such as Waldorf, Annapolis and Columbia in Maryland, and inside the District, particularly in Dupont Circle.

In other news

• Starbucks opened its 37th store in the District June 4. The 2,600-square-foot store is located in Adams Morgan.

• Presidents Sports Bar opened last month at the Renaissance Washington, D.C., Hotel on Ninth Street NW. The 3,000-square-foot upscale bar and restaurant replaces the Tavern, the hotel’s casual bar, and Plaza Deli, the hotel’s take-out eatery. Presidents Sports Bar is part of the 807-room hotel’s $10 million renovation, which began last year.

• The National Retail Federation (NRF), the D.C.-based industry trade group, has formed the International Retail Federation (IRF). IRF, which will be a division of NRF, represents retailers based outside the country and will have more than 300 members. Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive, will serve as IRF president.

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

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