The last of Washington’s once-prolific Marvelous Markets—the Georgetown location at Wisconsin and P streets, Northwest—plans to close for good at the end of business on Wednesday, despite a recent revamp. The shutter brings an end to the popular chain that got its start in 1990 when original owner Mark Furstenberg opened the flagship bakery and prepared-foods market on Connecticut Avenue near Chevy Chase.
Since 2007 the business has been operated by Thompson Hospitality, the same management company behind Austin Grill and American Tap Room. The company leased the building from the Neam family, who for decades operated Neam’s Market in the same location. George Neam, speaking for the family, said no decision has been made as to what’s next for the prime Georgetown space. He did admit that for a nanosecond he considered trying to reopen the family market, but gave up on the idea because it did not seem practical.
In a phone conversation on Wednesday afternoon, Neam said he was surprised by the “deluge” of calls he’s received since it became public that Marvelous Market was closing. He said they were from parties interested in the future of the space, though he said he did not want to make any decisions “too quickly.” Neam said the process will take time to find the right tenant. “We want somebody in there who can build their own legacy, whether it’s a market or a restaurant, and who serves the community.”
A stop by the market midday Wednesday showed the shelves emptying fast. Most items were marked down to half price, and some were being given away. “We have to get rid of everything by the end of the day,” said one of the staffers. Still, as if it were any other day, some patrons were buying their lunch, surprised to hear the news, while a few others sat in the cafe side of the market, watching TV and reading the newspaper.
Warren Thompson, owner of Thompson Hospitality, retains control of the brand name, which he uses for grab-and-go versions of Marvelous Market in colleges and hospitals. Coincidentally, Furstenberg is having an opening party for his new venture, Bread Furst, on Monday, May 5.