Do Blue Ridge’s Owners Feel Disappointed That Their Original Concept Didn’t Work?
This week's Young & Hungry column reports on the major changes already taking place at Blue Ridge in Glover Park — and those yet to come. When I sat down with owners Eli Hengst and Jared Rager, the guys behind the wine-centric Sonoma on Capitol Hill and Mendocino in Georgetown, I asked them if they were disappointed that their original, upscale farm-to-fork concept didn't work.
I wasn't sure what to expect as an answer. But here's what Hengst said:
"When Starbucks closes one of 10,000 locations because it’s under-performing, it’s probably not even a blip on the radar at corporate, but we make a big personal, emotional investment in a restaurant. We think it’s going to work. We’re trying to respond. We’re trying to fill a niche. When it doesn’t quite sync, there’s no question that there’s a regret. There’s a strong sense of, like, ‘Wow, we’re doing the revenue, but we’re just not striking the note.’"
Hengst never used the word "disappointed," but the feeling of quiet, subdued disappointment seemed to color his words.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery