The Talks Are Over, Balducci’s Not Coming to Penn Quarter was originally published on City Desk on Dec. 19, 2008, at 1:55 pm
Bad news for all those downtowners dreaming of having a source of quail eggs within walking distance. The deal in which Douglas Development would land Balducci’s specialty store in Penn Quarter isn’t going to happen. (And maybe that’s a good thing–check out how Tim Carman gets treated at the Balducci’s in Bethesda.)
Douglas Jemal, owner of Douglas Development, seems a bit sour about the outcome of his negotiations with the high-priced specialty market to set up shop on 7th Street NW. “It was nip and tug all along, we all tried hard and the city and developer took out the red carpet and gave them [Balducci's] the kitchen sink to make a deal…” But, Jemal says, the whole thing “turned out to be a waste of time”.
This is the second time Balducci’s has flirted with occupying the downtown space only to disappoint. Agreeing to move into the spot in 2005, the corporation reneged in 2006 with, as the Washington Post reported, “Balducci’s saying it wanted to focus on its existing stores.”
Douglas Development and the Downtown Neighborhood Association began courting the corporation regarding a new deal about a year ago. The latter got involved because, according to a letter sent to Balducci’s CEO Barbara Parasco by DNA President Miles Groves, quality food shopping in the downtown area is sparse to non-existent: “We are Desperate for a Quality Grocery Store,” reads one of the letter’s subheads.
The company’s CEO, asked about the failed talks, has this to say via email: “Over the last 62 years, Balducci’s has grown from a single produce stand to become a gourmet powerhouse on the eastern seaboard. We are constantly looking at new opportunities that make sense for our customers and our business, but our policy as a company is not to comment on speculation or rumors.”
*Photo by ji the pee