BETHESDA, Md. --
Savvy foodies have long recognized the culinary and bar star power of Washington's growing number of chefs and mixologists. Be it Daikaya
's spot on Bon Appetit
's 2013 list of '50 Best New Restaurant[s]' or Kapnos
landing in Zagat
's '20 Hottest Eateries of 2013' guide, the city is unquestionably on a palatable rise.
But step into many of these venues and, beyond the mouthwatering creations of a Chef Mike Isabella
or Katsuya Fukushima
or a sweet cocktail stirred-up by Mixologist Derek Brown
, guests are also enjoying the work of a little known area company called Streetsense
Indeed, the Bethesda-based, behind-the-scenes collective already plays a daily role in shaping the way D.C. residents live, work, shop, and interact, with creative groups focused on everything from architectural design to market research to community outreach to interior design to web development.
In corporate parlance, Streetsense helps restaurants (Kapnos, Daikaya, Red Hen, Ted's Bulletin), hotels (Trump International), and other hospitality environments (U Street Music Hall, The Huxley, The Gibson, Satellite Room) 're-imagine' and launch food and beverage concepts from inception to financial modeling to team/talent recruiting and development to brand development -- and everything in between.
The company even just this week announced a new venture group, Streetsense Capital, to provide expansion funding for retailers and restaurants.
Given such tremendous growth, the firm needed an equally expansive (and creative) headquarters from which to hang its shingle. And it found just such a place in the footprint of a 20,000-squarefoot abandoned food court just off the Bethesda Metro Station.
After a complete renovation, which began last spring and stretched throughout the summer, Streetsense was finally ready to unveil its new home yesterday evening, during a grand opening celebration that brought together much of Washington's retail, restaurant, hospitality, and real estate worlds.
Drawing from its own client roster in planning Monday's party, guests were treated to passed bites and sandwich platters from the likes of Graffiato, Kapnos, and G by Mike Isabella. Similarly, Derek Brown and his Laughing Cocktail
team manned the cocktail bar throughout the night, while chef-turned-DJ Erik Bruner-Yang
held court in the DJ booth.
There were also Google Glass
demonstrations, a Booth-o-Rama photobooth, and enough craft beer (DC Brau) and coffee (Vigilante) to keep a small army happy.
Yet the most fun part of the evening by far was simply in exploring the space itself. From the modular event space near the lobby to the architectural library to the partners' offices themselves -- each of which boasted its own unique theme -- there was seemingly nothing off limits to exploration.
There are no boundaries to creative thinking after all.