- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

The D.C. area has been graced by quite a few businesses with quirky names: the Dancing Pigs investment firm, the Fractured Prune doughnut shop and the tongue-twisting Generous George’s Positive Pizza & Pasta Place.

Now it’s time to add another to the list: Spicy Pickle.

The Denver restaurant chain opened its first store in the area yesterday in Ashburn, Va.

Spicy Pickle serves a pickle spiced with a secret recipe — hence, the restaurant’s name. But it specializes in panini and submarine sandwiches, served hot or cold on artisan bread, with a variety of meats or cheeses. It also sells salads and soups, and makes it own dressings and sauces.

Spicy Pickle has about 20 restaurants, mostly in Colorado. The company has been on an aggressive expansion plan, with locations also planned for New York, Texas, the West Coast and the Midwest.

In the D.C. area, Spicy Pickle is one of many fast casual restaurants opening its doors. The fast casual segment, classified as restaurants in between sit-down spots and fast-food joints, is expected to grow 5 percent this year to $150 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association.

“People are in a hurry, but they’re trying to get away from McDonald’s and junk food that’s not good for their bodies,” said Dale Faulkner, general manager of Spicy Pickle’s Ashburn store at 44650 Waxpool Road.

The chain plans to open two or three more stores in the D.C. area.

Bar rolls over to Columbia

Thirsty Dog Pub, a canine-themed bar and restaurant in Baltimore, has signed a lease to open a second location, this one in Columbia, Md.

Thirsty Dog, which serves specialty pizza and independently brewed draft beers, is scheduled to open this summer at 8865 Stanford Blvd., site of a former Hard Times Cafe.

“Business has been good, and we thought the idea would switch over well to other areas,” said general manager Jason Tarazon.

Thirsty Dog serves products with canine-friendly names — such as the Black Dog (Irish stout) and the ‘Hop’py Dog — but dogs are not allowed inside the restaurant, he said.

In other news …

• Giant Food opened its largest store to date on Friday in Fredericksburg, Va. The 75,100-square-foot store follows Giant’s new format of a farm-stand-style produce section, large prepared-food section, ethnic foods section, cheese shop and Boston Market entrees. The new format is designed to compete with supermarket heavyweights such as Wegmans and Whole Foods.

• Shoppers are expected to spend about $135 on Easter-related items this year, including about $38 for an Easter meal and $26 on an outfit, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington trade group. The organization’s survey found that about 80 percent of Americans plan to celebrate Easter in some way.

Christian and Eastern Orthodox Easter both fall on April 8 this year.

• Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant is scheduled to open late this month as the only Rockville restaurant that brews beer on site. The 8,400-square-foot restaurant is scheduled to open in Rockville Town Square on Rockville Pike. It’s the chain’s third District-area location.

• Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Send news to Jen Haberkorn at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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