- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Park Hyatt Washington is closing temporarily for a massive reconstruction and redesign beginning Aug. 1.

The luxury hotel on 24th and M streets in Northwest will shut for about seven months and is scheduled to reopen March 1.

Hotel officials won’t estimate how much business will be lost during the closing.

The project, which will cost about $24 million, will include redesigning the 220 guest rooms and creating a new mezzanine floor, ground floor with lobby and reception area, a lobby bar and an open-kitchen restaurant.

The 19-year-old hotel hired New York City designer Tony Chi to “reconcept” the hotel’s interior with a mature contemporary design that will be sophisticated and elegant, says General Manager Michel Morauw.

The hotel has worked with its 250 employees to help them find temporary or long-term positions at other Hyatt properties or at other hotels.

As of last week, about 70 employees had been hired at other Hyatt properties, Mr. Morauw said.

The hotel will have a job fair featuring about 20 hotels from the area to help more employees find jobs.

Mr. Morauw said not all employees are looking to be relocated. Many of them are using the time to take a vacation, focus on other jobs or even start their own businesses.

“We regret the interruption in employment this renovation will cause our staff, but once construction is complete, the Park Hyatt Washington expects to rehire as many of our employees as possible,” Mr. Morauw said.

Eating out

Area restaurants are dishing out discounts.

The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce is holding its first Restaurant Week, beginning today. The event, which ends July 24, includes 20 restaurants that will showcase gourmet meals at a fixed price. A two-course lunch will cost $10 and a three-course dinner will cost $18 or $25.

The discounts continue in the District Aug. 1-7 for Washington’s Restaurant Week, which happens twice a year. Participating eateries will offer three-course menus priced at $20.05 for lunch and $30.05 for dinner.

In the past, D.C. restaurants have seen an increase in business by 15 percent to 200 percent during the event.

Jeans galore

Levi Strauss & Co. has found the right fit in Georgetown.

The jeans giant is opening a 3,600-square-foot location in late September or early October. It will be the company’s 14th store.

“All of our Levi’s stores are in well-known or popular shopping areas,” said spokeswoman Amy Gemellaro. “Georgetown is a premier shopping area for Washington, D.C.”

In other news …

• California Tortilla in Silver Spring held its grand opening July 6 and in celebration gave away 1,324 free burritos for lunch and dinner. The 2,500-square-foot restaurant is the company’s 15th location.

• Happy to be Here Inc., the franchise company for Happy Tails Dog Spa, has signed its first franchise agreement for Maryland. Franchisees Robert and Adoracion Punio, of Accokeek, will look for a location in the Washington suburbs with plans to open in November.

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

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