Nearly a year ago, Rustik Tavern, located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, made it clear that Woodridge would be the location for their next restaurant. This got a lot of residents, including FoRIA, excited at the opportunity to have the restaurant in their area since many have been patronizing the current restaurant in hopes of convincing them to come to RIA. The Friends of RIA (FoRIA) rallied their support to help bring the restaurant to that end of the neighborhood, and even held a “Rhode” Trip to the restaurant to show the support they would receive along RIA. The restaurant even worked with the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (which is headquartered along RIA NE in Woodridge) to secure a location along RIA. Rustik then flamed those fires of excitement by tweeting their intent to move to Woodridge, thanking FoRIA for its support to get them there.
All for naught.
As Diton Pashaj, one of the owners of Rustik, explains to the Insider, they have leased a building along 12th Street, near the corner of Monroe Ave, as the location of their new restaurant. Although Pashaj noted that “there wasn’t one specific reason why it didn’t work out” on RIA, he later stated in his email that since the “Brookland deal went through faster”, he chose this location.
It does sting to be let down (more like snubbed) by Rustik but also could point to a larger problem for RIA regardless of the real reason Pashaj decided to forgo RIA. If it is true, that it was a space and leasing issue, then this could hamper businesses that are interested in opening along the Avenue — even though other businesses don’t seem to have any issues and realtors are actively trying to lease space today along RIA. If the reason was something else (more likely) then that points to other issues that groups like FoRIA and the City need to try and address. Is it the 30,000 cars that pass through daily? Is it the hungry residents with disposable income in the immediate area? Is it the designation as a Great Street, which will bring redevelopment dollars and more business to the Avenue? All of this could really discourage businesses from thinking about opening on RIA (read through facetious glasses, if you will).
Bottom line: RIA NE is on an upward trajectory in terms of redevelopment; in many cases, faster than many of the surrounding areas. Passing on the opportunity to be part of that is Rustik’s loss, not RIA’s. As Pashaj said, “I don’t think it will take long before it turns into a vibrant commercial corridor”.
Congrats, my Brookland friends.