Back in September, boutique D.C. gelato brand Dolcezza announced it would close five its nine local cafes. But co-owner Robb Duncan says, with the help of developers, the company was able to save three of those stores. Dolcezza’s shops in Dupont Circle and Bethesda reopened in late January, and a location the CityCenterDC complex in Penn Quarter made a comeback in February.
“The landlords are kind of helping us and wanted us to stay, so together we worked out the way to be able to stay in those locations,” Duncan says. Duncan also confirmed that Dolcezza has been able to cut costs by shrinking its space inside its factory in the Union Market district by assigning part of the lease to another company. Duncan says Dolcezza’s cafe inside the Hirshhorn museum will eventually reopen, too.
Now, one year after D.C. began its state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Duncan and Violeta Edelman want to celebrate with an Argentine treat. Dolcezza is selling chocotorta, a traditional birthday cake made from layers of chocolate cookies that have been soaked in coffee, cream cheese, and dulce de leche. Dolcezza is giving away small portions of chocotorta gelato today (Friday, March 190 at the three aforementioned stores and its location inside the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Virginia. Duncan says the gesture “is just to celebrate being alive.”
“That is truly, truly something to be thankful for, which I think we take for granted when all things are good,” he adds.
Two Dolcezza stores that shut down have already been scooped up by other food businesses. Northern Virginia-based smoothie bar South Block opened up shop in Dolcezza’s old corner location at 14th and P Streets NW. On the Southwest Waterfront, D.C. restaurant group Knead Hospitality + Design plans to open a new French bistro in an old Dolcezza by the summer.
Unlike many food businesses facing an existential threat during the COVID-19 crisis, Dolcezza has a robust retail operation that includes selling pints in Whole Foods across the country and 1,500 other organic grocers.