- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

Phillips Seafood is fishing for a quicker casual dining experience. The 45-year-old Baltimore restaurant group introduced its new “fast-casual” restaurant last week in Rockville.

The concept, called Phillips Famous Seafood, offers a smaller menu, less-expensive items and service at the counter. The 3,000-square-foot location at Shady Grove Road has 66 seats and 25 employees.

Mark Sneed, president of Phillips Foods and Seafood Restaurants, says the company wanted to create a seafood option that filled a void between sit-down restaurants like Red Lobster and fast-food joints like Long John Silver’s.

The Rockville location is just the beginning. Phillips has plans to open four or five more restaurants in the Washington market before going national.

By the end of 2004, at least three more Phillips Famous Seafood locations will open in the area, Mr. Sneed said. The company is looking at sites in Columbia, Arundel Mills mall, Silver Spring and Hunt Valley, Md., and in Crystal City. No deals have been finalized.

The concept could grow to as many as 500 restaurants nationwide, Mr. Sneed said.

Phillips has seven full-service restaurants in Ocean City, Baltimore, the District, Annapolis and Myrtle Beach, S.C. Another full-service location is expected to open in Atlantic City, N.J., in 2005.

While the larger restaurants are important to the brand, the new smaller concept, which has less overhead cost, will enable the company to expand across the country more quickly, Mr. Sneed said.

Hotel Hoopla

• Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has been named manager of the 139-room Hotel George on Capitol Hill, which was recently acquired by LaSalle Hotel Properties. Kimpton manages four other LaSalle-owned properties in the District: Hotel Rouge, Topaz Hotel, Hotel Madera and Hotel Helix.

• Last week, officials broke ground on the Embassy Suites on K Street in Northwest. The hotel, scheduled to open in the fall of 2005, will have 383 guest suites, 6,500 square feet of meeting space and a restaurant near the Washington Convention Center.

In other news …

• Under Armour Performance Apparel has renewed its contract with USA Baseball as the official supplier of performance apparel. Under the contract, which runs through 2008, Under Armour will continue to have rights to USA Baseball’s logo and will supply performance apparel to USA Baseball’s professional team, national team, junior national team and youth national team.

• The Roof Terrace Restaurant & Bar reopened last month after a $6.4 million renovation that closed the eatery for nine months. The 300-seat restaurant at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts revamped its space and added a private dining room that seats 30.

• Baltimore has landed the National Baptist Convention for 2006. The weeklong event, with an estimated attendance of 50,000, is the largest convention ever booked in Baltimore. The group will use more than 25,000 rooms and generate $41 million in direct spending.

• Wegmans Food Markets Inc. is opening its first store in Virginia in February. The 130,000-square-foot store, located at Columbia Place in Sterling, will include a Market Cafe with mezzanine seating for more than 200 people.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.

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