Colonial Connection, Aisle 9
Whether you're craving a deli sandwich, need a cooking ingredient, or want to satisfy your sweet tooth, there's something for every palate at the revamped FoBoGro. The narrow brick building at 2140 F St., formerly called Foggy Bottom Grocery, has been a community fixture for more than a century. Now its new owners are turning it into a Colonial affair.
Entrepreneur Kris Hart, GW Associate Director of Development Chris Kiple, BA '06, and Seth Rosenzweig, BBA '01, purchased the shop two years ago. As students, they perused the aisles of Foggy Bottom Grocery and knew it was a campus staple. When they had the chance to buy it from former owner and friend Meseret Bekele, the trio took the leap and hired other GW alumni to help create the ultimate "corner shop." Devlin Keating, BBA '06, is in charge of operations, and GW junior Daniel Blake serves as chief business development officer. Thirty-seven of the 52 FoBoGro staff members are also GW students or alumni.
"In both my businesses, I utilized the GW network to get to where I am today," says Mr. Hart, who also owns Relaxed Spa & Tans at 2112 F St., NW. "They are the people who are committed to the GW community and are excited about what we are doing. They appreciate the local neighborhood feel. That's something that's important to me."
"GW students especially are hungry for work experience, so we wanted to provide them with opportunities to contribute in different ways," Mr. Keating adds.
The new grocery store, which had its grand opening in May, boasts three floors of meat, produce, snacks, drinks, and cooking items. Personal hygiene items, as well as a wine fridge, candy section, and cigar humidor, are just a walk up the stairs.
Mr. Keating says the staff members put their own personal flair into the inventory, which includes seasonal items and recipes they cook up for fun. "One of the most enjoyable parts for us is offering products that we like eating ourselves," he says. "We had a lot of fun selecting the products to put on the shelves."
The sandwich shop—located in the "basement" of the store and accessible from the outside—features what Mr. Keating describes as "twists on traditionals," with everything from grilled cheese and egg salad on pumpernickel to more complex concoctions like "The Wellesley"—grilled chicken with brie, green apple, red onion, and field greens—and the "Cazenovia Sub," which fits, among other ingredients, Italian hot ham, pepperoni, sopressata, and provolone between bread. The shop also offers coffee, breakfast pastries, and fountain beverages.
Senior Amanda Dick says FoBoGro's convenient on-campus location makes other stores "seem so much farther away." "My favorite item on the sandwich menu is the grilled cheese, as it's a simple item they've made amazing. I also love the candy section," says Ms. Dick, who adds that she is happy alumni are running the store. "I think FoBoGro adds more community to campus."
That's the type of community—and convenience—that Mr. Hart, Mr. Kiple, Mr. Rosenzweig, and their staff members are banking on to keep FoBoGro a campus staple for years to come.
"If you want morning coffee, cooking ingredients, lunch, or a snack on the way home, we have it all here," Mr. Keating says. "I think we're serving the neighborhood pretty well."