Business Ins & Outs: J. Chocolatier Departs; Capitol Prague Restaurant Coming

Well, one business is leaving and another arriving. A new restaurant will fill the void left by the departed Morso. Capitol Prague Restaurant will soon set up at M and Potomac Streets, part of the Eton Court complex.

Capitol Prague will operate a restaurant and a coffee shop two doors away, said manager Petra Foist, who added, "We hope to open in mid-April." With Czech and Slovak cuisine—schnitzel, goulash, braised pork and dumplings—as well as various beers, "it will be down-home cooking," Foist said. Capitol Prague will be the only restaurant in Washington, D.C., with Czechvar lager on draft, she said. That beer is made by the famed Budweiser Budvar Brewery (Budějovický Budvar) in the Czech Republic. (Capitol Prague is still constructing its website.)

One block away from the new restaurant, a business is closing its 33rd Street location -- but not closing. It will become an online operation: J. Chocolatier's retail shop is closing Monday, March 4.

"We have had a fantastic three-and-a-half years in our Georgetown location," wrote J. Chocolatier owner Jane Morris in an email. "Not to worry: J. Chocolatier will continue bringing delicious chocolates to the D.C. area. . . . We plan to roll out a brand new website with online ordering later in March (and just in time for Easter treats). Local shipments usually arrive in one to two days. You can also continue to purchase our bon bons at CocoVa in Adams Morgan or order them with your wine at Veritas Wine Bar in DuPont Circle. We plan to expand our wholesale business to select stores in the D.C. area very soon."

Morris continued: "We are proud to say that our Georgetown retail sales have grown every year, with increases ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent year-over-year. That's no small feat in a difficult economy with the shockingly small boot-strap budget that we had. We achieved this by providing our customers with excellent products and services. You, the customers, did the rest through word-of-mouth. In fact, we are exiting the Georgetown store up 27 percent so far for 2013."

As to the question of why close the 33rd Street store now, Morris replied: "It has been a treat to work in such beautiful surroundings everyday. Unfortunately, there were some problems with the Georgetown location. We had minimal foot traffic. Plus, the old building was nearly impossible to keep cool in the summer. That caused major headaches like sky-high utilities and constant AC and refrigeration repairs. All of these factors combined really hurt our bottom line. It just didn't make sense to continue operating in a location that wasn't working well for us."

And as far as future retail space, Morris wrote: "We haven't ruled that out. We continue to look for another retail location, but are carefully considering our options. In the meantime, we will be looking to partner with other local businesses to do pop-up shops and markets. We also look forward to another season at the Downtown Holiday Market this December."

Fans can follow J. Chocolatier on Facebook or Twitter. It also guide chocolate tastings for private groups and corporate clients. There is a party today, Monday, with free chocolate and Champagne, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at J. Chocolatier, 1039 33rd St., NW—202-333-4111.

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Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:22:53 -0400

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