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With Some Businesses Down, Tackle Box in Georgetown Continues To Grow | Business

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With Some Businesses Down, Tackle Box in Georgetown Continues To Grow
With Some Businesses Down, Tackle Box in Georgetown Continues To Grow

While many financial analysts are saying that the economy is on the way up, residue of the recession is still reflected all over Washington…even in Georgetown. 

On the neighborhood’s posh M Street strip, sprinkled here and there between high-end boutiques and Zagat-rated restaurants, are the unfamiliar sights of boarded-up storefronts. 

The past few years have been an adjustment period for many Georgetown businesses, realizing that in hard times members of society often abandon what they want to give themselves the ability to afford what they need.  Some shops in the Georgetown community have fallen victim to this shift; others have managed to stay above water.  And then there’s Jonathan Umble and his fish shack Tackle Box---who are expanding.

After opening Hook, a more upscale restaurant, in 2007, Umble opened Tackle Box, a spot with a casual atmosphere and lower prices, a year later.  Last night Umble uncorked “Crackle Bar”, located on the second floor of Tackle Box.  Crackle Bar emanates a cool, calm, laid-back feel that would make you think you’re in a beach town instead of Georgetown.

“Crackle Bar came to be as an extension of Tackle Box, a casual shack,” Umble said.  “We had a little space that we thought once we got our liquor license would be a great place to have a casual oyster bar, and that’s what we evolved the thousand square feet into.  (Here you’ll find) casual fare, comfort food, and great drink specials and great drink prices.  It kind of fits to the everyday person that wants to go out and have a good time without spending a lot of money.”

The bar features a terrific drink selection, including several hard to find Hawaiian beers, as well small plates like oyster shooters and chicken wings with homemade tomato-chipotle dipping sauce.

But Cracklebar is just a part of Umble’s expansion.  The restaurateur is opening a second Tackle Box location on Connecticut Avenue in Cleveland Park, with the hopes of beginning service in about ten weeks.

“We are really excited to open the doors on our other project in Cleveland Park,” Said Roger Lemus, Tackle Box Chef.  “The Cleveland Park Tackle Box is going to be a little bigger.  We are really ready, and I’m really, really excited about it.”

Umble said he attributes the company’s successes to charging customers prices that won’t break their bank, as well as operating in a niche market.

“We’re expanding Tackle Box because we believe it is a brand that has a lot of legs with the current economic climate,” Umble said.   “It’s very affordable, it’s wallet friendly.  (We serve) fresh seafood, and the seafood demographic is very underrepresented, there are not a lot of competitors out there…I just think that there really isn’t anywhere else where you can go to get a piece of fresh fish with two sides for 13 bucks.”

That fish and two sides deal is available at Tackle Box, and Crackle Bar will play host to a “recession-proof happy hour”, that will include $2 margaritas and $1.50 beer specials.

“In Cleveland Park, we think we’re going to be the only place on the (Connecticut Avenue strip) really selling seafood,” Umble explained.  “So it’s not like we have a lot of people we’re competing against.”

Fresh fish at reasonable prices: it’s a concept that has Umble thinking of advancement during a time when most businesses are just trying to stay afloat.

“People will come and go,” Umble said.  “But we feel if we offer a good value and good quality products, we can really do well long-term, and develop a regional brand.  That’s what we’re trying to do.”

 

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