January 31st, 2009
02:40 PM ET
7 years ago

President Obama prompting a DC renaissance?


Watch Kate Balduan report the Obama's could prompt a DC renaissance.

WASHINGTON (CNN)- President Barack Obama pledged to bring change to Washington.

Now that he's moved to town, local restaurant owners are hoping he'll keep his campaign promise.

After eight years of largely being ignored by a homebody president, Washington restaurateurs are throwing open their doors to the new first family - dreaming of a presidential visit that would undoubtedly spark buzz at a time when some restaurants are struggling.

"I think the Obama family brings back this kind of Kennedy-era style of having a youthful family in the White House," said Sheldon Scott, general manager of Marvin restaurant, in the trendy U-Street corridor. "People actually plan on living in the city, not just necessarily living at the city."

Obama and his wife Michelle have signaled they will continue their tradition of "date nights" at local restaurants. Soon after moving to Washington in January, Obama and a group of friends celebrated his wife's birthday at the upscale Equinox restaurant near the White House.

Equinox chef and owner Todd Gray said since the Obamas' visit "phones are ringing like crazy, not only for reservations but also for congratulations."

"They're creating a huge buzz," he said. "They're out dining, They're out supporting small family businesses, local-run businesses that in the end are the backbone of the American economy. And if that doesn't give people hope, I don't know what will."

The city has already seen a benefit. DC Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Lang said preliminary reports show the inaugural celebrations brought in $700 million to $1 billion to Washington businesses. Lang is optimistic that trend will continue, and cited Obama's visit earlier this month to Ben's Chili Bowl, a landmark Washington restaurant, as an example.

"It doesn't mean that all of our economic problems are over with - I think we still are gonna have some challenges," she said. "[But] this past Saturday or Sunday, the line getting into Ben's Chili Bowl was five blocks long. And so that's the kind of impact that because Mr. Obama ate there, everybody wanted to go see Ben's Chili Bowl. Well, we expect that same kind of impact around the city."

Filed under: Michelle Obama • Obama family • President Obama
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. karela

    Wow! People fussed about the amount spent on Obama's inauguration, but if D.C. businesses got a billion dollars worth of business from it, it was a pretty good deal! Turns out the inauguration was the first stimulus package of the Obama administration. It brought in more business to the nation's capitol than it cost and it wasn't paid for with taxpayer dollars. Pretty cool!!!

    January 31, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. person

    Next let's start improving american education, it's really suffering. I don't want the world to think we all are a bunch of "W's".

    January 31, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  3. Chris from DC

    I love it! Finally a President who is embracing our city–and not snobbily eschewing it.

    My recommendation for Mr. Obama's next meal–Obelisk on P street. A hidden gem that offers the most equisite northern Italian fare to be found anywhere.

    January 31, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. Ray Fisher

    As personable as these two are, I can envision the secret service blocking off a city street around them to have evening dinners at a nice restaurant and enjoy the ambiance of the neighborhoods. It will be a nice change to see the first family participating in American life with average Americans. Shucks, I'd make it a party wherever thet go in Washington just to loosen the stuffed shirt crowd!!!

    January 31, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  5. LJinLACA

    People wonder why celebrate the election? Places that brace the President will prosper from his popularity...

    January 31, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  6. antony sadick

    God bless the president!

    February 1, 2009 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  7. harriett

    Since stepping on the worlds stage, Mr. President and Mrs. Obama have actually inspired a nation to embrace its heritage and to take notice of what it has to offer. We are being challenged to revisit what made us fall in love with this great country. This will help spurn the economy and get it chugging along eventually. I'm so proud to see the country looking forward to the days, weeks and years ahead with a new first family leading the way. Way to go Mr. President and Mrs. Obama:)

    February 1, 2009 05:39 am at 5:39 am |
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