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January 6, 2011 
Hoagie Invasion

Taylor Gourmet opened its fourth shop this week with plans for three more (plus a cheesesteak place) this year. Co-owner Casey Patten tells us what's in store for the quickly expanding hoagie empire. Any more Philly influence, and Washingtonians might start pronouncing Schuylkill correctly.
Taylor Gourmet
Philadelphia natives Casey (above) and his business partner David Mazza opened up shop off of U Street on Tuesday (1908 14th St., NW). The newest locale is nearly identical to its counterparts in City Vista, H Street, and Bethesda with the added bonus of late night delivery. In its other shops, Taylor Gourmet hangs 55 gallon oil drums as light fixtures, but because of the low ceilings, the 14th St spot has pickle buckets (see below). That's not the only untraditional thing: Leading up to its opening, Taylor Gourmet announced on Twitter that it was having a "mayoral ribbon cutting." Several media outlets reported that Vincent Gray would be on hand, but when the time came, he was nowhere to be found. Turns out they invited their Foursquare "mayors" to do the honor. But ultimately, the Mayor (the real one) sent his congratulations via Twitter, saying "Sorry I couldn't be there, but always happy 2 see DC_based small biz growing."
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Taylor Gourmet

Taylor Gourmet has another shop set to open at the end of the summer in a new development in Merrifield, VA that will include Matchbox, Cava, and a Jeff Black restaurant. Two more shops are slated at yet-to-be-disclosed locations. Casey and David are also opening Taylor Charles Steak & Ice on H Street in April or May. (Taylor is Casey's middle name and Charles is David's middle name.) The cheesesteak place will serve classic and some "fun, updated" versions of the Philly staple. Also expect Italian water ice made in-house with flavors like kumquat. When Casey and David swapped stories about their first cheesesteaks, both recalled going to sporting events with their dads and the classic rock they would play (which the boys hated at the time). So, they've recruited their dads to create the restaurant's playlist. As for the future, Casey sees even more growth in DC and potentially venturing beyond some day. Pat's, Geno's... Taylor?

District Kitchen Opens in NW
Jawad Saadaoui and chef Drew Trautmann
Duck cracklins and kohlrabi kraut have arrived in Woodley Park. District Kitchen, which opened Wednesday, aims to be a casual neighborhood joint serving seasonal Mid-Atlantic cuisine (2606 Connecticut Ave., NW). It's the first restaurant of Jawad Saadaoui and chef Drew Trautmann, who have worked together at Mendocino Grille & Wine Bar, Sonoma, and Redwood over the past decade. Drew started his career in Seattle working under chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, who initially inspired his farm-to-table approach. Drew also worked in Albuquerque and Santa Fe before coming to DC, where his wife got a job at the National Museum of the American Indian. His chef de cuisine Daniel Velasco also made the move with him. The two have been working together for 15 years.
District kitchen
The space itself was formerly occupied by Thai restaurant Jandara. The pink exterior is now gone and the purple glitter walls and blue carpeting have been replaced by exposed brick and concrete floors. The menu is broken down by small plates, salads and produce, mains, and snacks (including a rotating selection of house-made beef jerky). Once the restaurant gets rolling, Drew hopes to change at least some of the menu daily. One of his personal highlights is a fusilli pasta with "Cincinnati style" lamb chili cooked with chocolate, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The drink menu includes specialty cocktails, several local beers, and four wines on tap. Jawad, who was most recently the GM and wine director at Redwood, sees wine kegs as a growing trend that drive down the costs for consumers. He says they're already gaining popularity in LA, San Francisco, and New York.

Sweet Goodbyes
Artfully Chocolate
No more lavender-infused hot chocolate for residents of Logan Circle. Chocolate shop and cocoa bar Artfully Chocolate (better known by its former name, ACKC) has closed permanently at 1529 14th St., NW. A note posted on the door cites "personal/family priorities" for the shutter. The chocolate spot, which opened in 2007, was known for its wide selection of hot chocolate drinks named after divas like Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor. The good news is that Artfully Chocolate is expanding the offerings at its Del Ray and Old Town Alexandria locations.

Cupcakes Keep Coming
Further proof that the cupcake is the new cupcake: Crumbs Bake Shop opened another location downtown just before the New Year (1107 19th St., NW). It's the fourth DC-area location for the NY-based cupcake chain. A fifth is coming to L'Enfant Plaza. In other cupcake expansion news, reality show star Georgetown Cupcake is heading to Boston.
What restaurants are you looking forward to in 2012? E-mail Dining Editor Jessica Sidmandining@bisnow.com. You can also catch us on Facebook and Twitter!

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