Mayor Vincent Gray, Jack Evans, Kwame Brown, Vincent Orange, and each of their respective entourages ventured to 600 14th Street NW this morning to celebrate the opening of the newest venture by the Clyde’s Restaurant Group: The Hamilton. Located at the site of the former Garfinckel’s department store, DC’s newest “downtown destination,” as it’s being billed, has all the upscale trappings you’d expect from Clyde’s (think: vaulted ceilings, stone finishes, commissioned oil paintings, a marble fountain, etc.) with two interesting differentiators: The two-level venue boasts an upstairs restaurant and bar that is open 24/7, and a lower-level music hall with three levels of tiered seating. Having already offered a New Year’s Eve party at the venue (that sold out in a matter of hours), we were eager to see the place for ourselves, and see what the mayor had to say about it.
At first glance, one can’t help but be impressed by the place. The attention to detail that went into the revamping of the building (which dates to 1929) is pretty darn extraordinary. At second glance, one can’t help but think: a) Someone had to have shelled out some serious cheddar to pull this thing off; followed shortly by b) Given the real estate costs of being two blocks from the White House, The Hamilton better draw some pretty extraordinary traffic… which could be an uphill battle for a 500-seat restaurant that’s open 24/7 and a 400-seat music hall which has one national act on its upcoming lineup.
In the mayor’s speech, we learned that much of the renovation costs for The Hamilton came from the DC government itself—$4.4 million, to be exact. After Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans declared that Washington, DC was fast becoming the most exciting city in America, Gray alluded to the fact that The Hamilton (which he referred to multiple times as “Hamilton’s”) is part of his One City, One Hire—10,000 Jobs Campaign, which seeks to put DC residents back to work in the Wards where the unemployment rate “is nearly twice the regional and national average.” (Note: Ward 2, where The Hamilton is located, is not one of those Wards.) He also revealed that “Hamilton’s” has added 300 new jobs to the District—200 of which are filled by DC natives—and that he envisions a day when the city can become a self-sustaining metropolis with one million residents. Here are Mr. Evans’ and Mr. Gray’s speeches.