NY & DC Restaurants: The End of the World as We Know It?

For me, 2012 was supposed to just be another year. Then the movie 2012 came out a few years back and all of a sudden the entire world was going down in flames come December. Great. At first, I bought none of this. I had gotten through the past twenty years without paying any mind to the Mayan calendar and I saw no reason to start caring now. I survived Y2K, why should this be any different?

Still, I paid attention to “the signs” anyway. It was more for my own entertainment than anything else, picking out what headlines I deemed worthy of ending the world. However, it wasn’t the big events like dead birds and weather changes that drew my attention. After having the majority of my time in grade school threatened by some plague, whether it be H1N1 or avian flu, I was somewhat skeptical.

Then things started happening. Seal and Heidi Klum separated. The Oprah Winfrey Show announced its finale. The last Harry Potter movie aired. I started to get worried. Then there was this past Sunday when something truly shocking happened. I was minding my own business, walking through SoHo when I saw a tremendous line. Although this is a normal occurrence in New York, I let my curiosity get the best of me and wandered over. I squinted up at the storefront. “Georgetown Cupcake” was written in pink and black.

I paused what What WHAT were they doing in SoHo?

Ok. To be fair, I saw this coming. I had heard the rumors on Facebook. I read the press release. I knew 100% that the cupcakery was making the move to New York. Still, that doesn’t mean I was comfortable with it. It wasn’t like when they opened another Starbucks. It was different. In my mind Georgetown Cupcake was strictly a DC thing. It was founded there and as far as I was concerned it should stay there.

In recent years, I’d watched some of my favorite restaurants and shops move from DC to NYC and vice versa. On one hand, I was elated that these businesses where so successful that they could afford to make the jump. On the other hand, two cities that I knew well but exist on opposite ends of my life were suddenly colliding. It kind of threw me off.

I’m not always good with change. Georgetown Cupcake isn’t the first store to get the bright idea to move to the big apple. Their SoHo shop is the latest on a long list I’ve compiled of businesses in my life that branched out. Potbelly’s a sandwich shop beloved by DC-MD-VA high-schoolers for it’s affordable sandwiches and malts recently opened up a store in Midtown. As excited as I am to now be able to grab a Potbelly’s oreo shake on my way to Central Park, I kind of feel that hipster tinge of I-knew-it-before-it-was-cool. The same goes for the Serendipity that was recently opened in DC. There is also the slight problem of I can no longer suggest these New York establishments to out-of-towners.

The conversation used to be:
Them: We’re in New York for one night and in the mood for burgers. Got any suggestions.
Me: Shake Shack!

Now the conversation has changed to
Them: We’re in New York for one night and in the mood for burgers. Got any suggestions.
Me: Shake Shack!
Them: Awkward. We’ve been in DC. What else?
Me: ….

Beyond my own prejudices and issues concerning the expansion of the restaurant business, there is the question of what effect it will have on the image of New York. How much longer will there be a truly New York place to eat? Yes, people will always go to the flagship locations for the originality, so-we-can-say-we-did factor. Yes, some restaurants will only and always be in New York. But with more and more of these establishments expanding to other cities, what does it mean for NYC. Where will the New York that Sinatra sings about be in twenty years?

There are endless shops and stores and businesses that call New York City home. Some of them will expand, some of them will jump ship, and regardless the city will continue to grow. Maybe this shift makes room for other new favorites. It’s hard to picture the city without old favorites, but new blood can be a good thing.

New York may be the city in which a restaurant or bakery or café can really carve out a name for itself. Maybe I’m wrong to get this worked up over a simple change of location. Georgetown Cupcake isn’t one of the four horsemen, showed up in SoHo and precipitating the end of the world. That is no reason to emotionally fly off the charts. Then again Adele just announced that she’s quitting the businesses for a while. Ok so maybe the world IS ending.

Zoe Marquedant doesn’t talk about Fight Club. She is an SLC writing student with a dinosaur watch and an over-developed sense of state pride. She can be found around campus perpetuating awkward moments and swearing like a sailor. Zoe firmly believes life is what happens in-between good cups of coffee.

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