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$17 Salads Could Follow Amazon to Northern Virginia

How the HQ2 announcement will affect restaurants

Amazon Chooses Long Island City In Queens, NYC And Crystal City In Arlington, Virginia For Their New Headquarters
A man walks near a tarp draped at the 1851 S. Bell Street building in the Crystal City on Tuesday, when Amazon announced it would split half of its second headquarters in the Arlington, Virginia, neighborhood.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Amazon’s announcement yesterday that it will bring half of its coveted second headquarters to Northern Virginia will have a huge effect on Washington’s restaurant industry, altering everything from the cost of living expenses and the length of commutes for workers to who will be able to capitalize on feeding the 25,000 well-paid workers expected to arrive by 2030.

Here’s a look at a few of the ways Amazon is expected to change the makeup of the area for the D.C. dining scene.

Cost of living for workers

Washington City Paper reporter Laura Hayes shared the reaction yesterday from D.C. Council member Anita Bonds, who was worried about workers in the District suffering from a domino effect on rent prices.

The headline of an article about the residential real estate market from Washington Business Journal declares, “It’s going to get worse.WBJ says that the pre-existing challenges in the market, including demand exceeding supply, rapidly escalating prices, and fierce competition, will all be exacerbated by the influx Amazon employees expected to earn an average of $150,000 per year. That means homebuyers will increasingly feel pressured to pay in cash and rush through inspections. WBJ cites Attom Data Solutions, which studies real estate, in calculating that a person needs to make about $178,000 per year to afford a median-priced house in Arlington.

Uptick in restaurant traffic

Some restaurant owners are excited for an area that’s otherwise know for drab government buildings and unexciting nightlife. According to the Washington Post’s report, HQ2 promises $2.5 billion in capital investments and $3.2 billion in net tax revenue over the next two decades.

Billy Bayne owns the neighborhood’s obligatory airport-adjacent strip club, Crystal City Restaurant Gentlemen’s Club. He told the Post people had been calling to congratulate him, and, “Whatever [Amazon owner] Jeff Bezos wants is fine with me.” Crystal City Sports Pub owner Art Dougherty told WBJ he’d been praying for Amazon’s arrival, and the influx of workers will help an area that’s seen other companies move out for years.

Washingtonian spoke to a food writer in Seattle to see how Amazon’s growth has affected the dining scene there. One takeaway was that lunch and happy hour business have become huge. Another was that Amazon likes to recruit hip restaurants to open locations near its campuses, leading the magazine to make the bold speculation that places of local renown like Bad Saint, Maydan, or Rose’s Luxury could be convinced to open a new property in the heavily corporate area.

Cost of food

Jessica Voelker, the Seattle food writer and former Washingtonian food editor, summed up Amazon’s effect on restaurants in its Pacific Northwest hub:

“Being over in that area, you’re going to expect to spend like $14 to $17 on a salad or tacos,” Voelker says. “And I think they know that they can charge that much.”

The name of the neighborhood

One of the most discombobulating parts about the HQ2 announcement has been hearing that it will set up shop in an area Amazon is calling “National Landing”, which until now hasn’t existed. That’s also led to some misinformation that Amazon has rebranded Crystal City, which isn’t quite true. As Washingtonian explains here, officials from Arlington and Alexandria came up with the new moniker to cover a swath of land that joins three different Virginia neighborhoods: Crystal City, Potomac Yards, and Pentagon City.

Will anyone around the Beltway actually say “National Landing” with a straight face? Time will tell. DCist had some fun with the newly-branded area, coming up with National Landing slogans such as, “National Landing: Your Friends Still Won’t Visit You In Arlington.”