- The Washington Times - Monday, March 11, 2002

There's a Giant food fight happening in Cleveland Park. The Giant Food supermarket at the corner of Newark Street and Wisconsin Avenue and the Landover-based company's plans for that store's renovation and expansion is at the center of a fight that has pitted neighbors against neighbors.
Opponents of Giant's plans have filed an application to declare the Giant's home Friendship Shopping Center as an historical site. That means Giant would have to keep the center "pedestrian-friendly" and wouldn't be able to knock down the building or add to the outside without the city's Historic Preservation Review Board's permission.
Currently Giant is planning to increase the size of its 12,000-square-foot store to more than 40,000 square feet a much needed expansion from the undersized store that exists now.
The expansion would mean Giant would move into abandoned storefronts next to the existing store and the main entrance would be from the parking lot, not the street making it less "pedestrian-friendly," says Isabel Furlong, president of the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, which filed the historic-preservation application.
"We have never questioned the size," Ms. Furlong says. "We're questioning the design." The associaiton wants more retail and neighborhood-oriented tenants along Wisconsin Avenue.
The battle over the Giant expansion and renovation plans has been going on for three years when Giant first proposed a plan for a much bigger store, more retail and underground parking at that center. That plan was scrapped and the new plan that would have an entranceway to the Giant on Wisconsin Avenue is the latest on the drawing board.
The historic-preservation filing, expected to be discussed at a March 28 hearing, has angered many neighbors who believe the filing is just a tactic to get Giant to agree to the association's demands for more retail on Wisconsin Avenue.
"We support a neighborhood, pedestrian-friendly [center] but the way you do that is not by declaring [the property] historic," says Shabbir Safdar, a Cleveland Park resident who started a web site www.wewantgiant.com to build support against the application. "We believe the building is not historic."
Opponents to the historic-preservation application say some neighbors have gone too far and they fear this latest step will alienate Giant even further and the company will keep the cramped store exactly the way it is.
Giant spokesman Barry Scher says the company won't pull out of the space altogether but if the historic-preservation application goes through they will have no choice but to give up on any renovation and expansion plans.
The fight between neighbors who want the historical declaration and those who do not has found its way to cyberspace where people have posted comments in discussion groups and another web site wwww.giantgiant.org has popped up.

New sandwich shop
Chicago's Potbelly Sandwich Works has made Washington its first market away from home with the opening of three new locations.
The new Potbelly stores, an old-fashioned sandwich joint complete with hardwood floors and live entertainment, have popped up on 12th Street in the District, Fairfax Drive in Arlington and East Montgomery Avenue in Rockville. A fourth location is expected to open at the corner of 14th Street and New York Avenue in the District within three months, says Potbelly Chief Executive Bryant Keil.
The stores are typically between 1,500 square feet and 3,000 square feet and have about 25 to 30 employees.
Mr. Keil says there are plans for one to four more stores in the Washingon area this year. There are currently 10 other Potbelly locations in the Chicago area.

Mexican eatery
Qdoba Mexican Grill is coming to Virginia, but the management group that has exclusive rights to expand in the commonwealth is keeping mum on where exactly they are looking.
For competitive reasons the group won't reveal too much, but Rick Sherman, one of the people heading the management group, says the first restaurant should be up and running in six to nine months.
Qdoba, based in Denver, is a mix between fast food and casual dining with a menu that includes made-to-order burritos, tacos and nachos.
Mr. Sherman says two locations will open by the end of this year in Virginia and his group has plans to develop at least 20 restaurants over the next several years.
Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884 or at [email protected] Retail & Hospitality runs every other week.


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