- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2007

Washington-area hotel, restaurant and tourism officials plan to hold an exercise today to analyze how they would respond to a food-borne bioterrorism scare.

The area’s hotels and restaurants occasionally hold such exercises, which are designed to evaluate the region’s readiness for emergencies.

Today’s exercise will look at how the industry would respond if the city called upon hotels and restaurants to provide food and lodging to residents stricken by food-borne illness, according to the Hotel Association of Washington, DC, one of the groups organizing the event.

“We hope that the scenarios we have played out through our exercises never actually affect our region,” said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corp., one of the organizations involved. “However, our efforts since 9/11 to expand the scope of these exercises come from our collective desire to assure visitors to Washington, D.C., that the hospitality industry is equipped with the necessary information and coordination to appropriately respond to and recover from regional emergencies.”

About 200 government and hospitality officials plan to participate in the exercise.

The program, the third of its kind, will focus on the entire D.C. region. The past two emergency preparedness exercises — the last one in June 2006, which practiced responding to a bird-flu scare — focused only on the District.

Austin Grill beefs up, slims down

Local Tex-Mex chain Austin Grill has plans to open two more restaurants to add to its six locations in the D.C. area. Austin Grill just opened a new restaurant in Rockville Town Square and announced plans to open a smaller version in Fairfax early next year.

The Fairfax location will be the first of Austin Grill’s new format, the Austin Grill Custom Burrito Shop, which is smaller than the traditional store size and includes a walk-up counter.

In other news …

c Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Chantilly is scheduled to reveal the first part of its $10 million renovation Sept. 19. The first phase of the renovation, of its 15,000-square-foot grand ballrooms, cost $2.3 million.

A $5.8 million renovation of the hotel’s guest rooms will begin in December and a $1 million upgrade to the lobby will start early next year. In total, the $10 million renovation is Westfields Marriott’s largest capital investment since it opened in 1990.

c Lululemon Athletica, a yoga clothing store, opened its second store in the D.C. area over the weekend. The Tysons Corner Center store will sell yoga apparel as well as offer free yoga classes Sunday evenings. The company also has a store in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington.

c Red Wing Shoes and Edible Arrangements, a fruit basket design company, have signed leases to open stores in Germantown Square Shopping Center in Chevy Chase. Red Wing Shoes, which specializes in work boots and outdoor shoes, has opened. Edible Arrangements plans to open later this month.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Send news to Jen Haberkorn at jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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