By Emily Friedman | WAMU 88.5
Food trucks are becoming a familiar sight around the city, and so are “pop-up shops” — stores that sell clothing or other items for a limited engagement in a vacant or temporary space. Put the two trends together and you have “UnCurbed,” a traveling restaurant opening this week in Georgetown.
UnCurbed gives one food truck the chance to operate as a brick-and-mortar restaurant for the week in a vacant space somewhere in the city. This week, passersby will see traveling meat purveyors BBQ Bus parked at the corner of M and 28th streets NW, without its characteristic line of patrons stretching down the sidewalk.
The customers are here; they’re just indoors. Specifically, they’re inside the old Furin’s Restaurant at 2805 M Street NW, which has been vacant since the restaurant closed earlier this year.
D.C. resident Kyle Mihalcoe, who’s digging in to his dinner, is already a fan of the pulled pork sandwiches and other fare BBQ Bus serves up. But there’s something even more enticing about it this week, he says.
“It’s nice to have a place to sit down and eat right by the food truck, versus having to freeze and eat outside,” Mihalcoe says.
Instead, customers place their order with a guy carrying an iPad, pay, and find a seat. The order is sent to the truck, and a waiter brings it to the table.
The weeklong temporary UnCurbed residency in the vacant M Street space is thanks in part to VerdeHouse, a company that links up property owners with people looking to host temporary events around the region. VerdeHouse teamed up with the property owner, Fox Hall Partners, to bring a some life into the space in Georgetown.
“From our perspective, it’s really great to get people to walk through,” says Matt Wexler, one of the building’s owners. “From foodies to entrepreneurs to people who just want to have a cool time.”
Sam Williams, with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, stopped by for a sandwich on opening night.
“It’s great anytime as a city, we can say yes to something,” Williams says. “And all we’re here for is to make sure health and safety measure are completed, and that everybody is safe.”
Jeff Kelly, who has a food truck consulting business and runs his own truck, Eat Wonky, is working with VerdeHouse to coordinate the event.
“This is a nice hybrid of what a food truck can do, and then what a brick and mortar space can do,” Kelly says. The plan is to hold UnCurbed again in January, with a different food truck, and a new location.
“So you look at Rhode Island Avenue NE or Anacostia, places that are in dire need of activation,” he says. “I think working with those communities to make things like this happen there would be great.”