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Le Diplomate Owner Stephen Starr Reveals a Plan to Bring a ‘Mega’ Italian Market to Georgetown

The East Coast hitmaker says in a public meeting he’s working on a deal to bring famous L.A. chef Nancy Silverton to D.C.

Dean & DeLuca in Georgetown
Restaurateur Stephen Starr wants to turn the former Dean & DeLuca space in Georgetown into an Italian restaurant and market
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Hit-making East Coast restaurant magnate Stephen Starr revealed a plan last night to build an Italian restaurant and market in Georgetown while potentially partnering with Nancy Silverton, one of the most famous chefs on the West Coast.

Starr, who owns busy brasserie Le Diplomate and standout tavern St. Anselm in D.C., along with several well-regarded restaurants in Philadelphia and New York, appeared on a virtual call for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E to describe how his company plans to transform the historic Georgetown Market at 3276 M Street NW. From 1993 to 2019, the building held the D.C. outpost of gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca.

Starr described the project as a casual place with everyday use and a “mega Italian concept” that will offer an “abundant, unbelievable experience.”

“If you just call it an Italian restaurant, I don’t think it’s going to do it justice,” Starr says on the call. “It’s going to be an event. It’s going to be a festival of food.”

Starr stressed that he is still in negotiations with Silverton, the L.A. restaurateur and celebrity chef who founded La Brea bakery and Italian restaurants like Pizzeria Mozza and chi SPACCA. Starr says Silverton visited the space last week, “and she thinks it’s fantastic.”

“I’m not officially announcing that Nancy is the chef, but I want to give you an idea that we’re definitely going to have a well-known chef at the helm here,” Starr says on the call.

Architect Richard Stokes, whose company designed both of Starr’s D.C. restaurants, took the ANC through initial plans that included a retail space up front with corners marked off for market provisions, gelato, bakery, and espresso. A sketch of the main hall includes a dining room with 88 seats and a bar with 36 seats. Plans call for an open kitchen with a pizza oven in the back, a mezzanine with additional seating, and seats on an existing patio. Stokes says on the call “a wine cellar kind of bar” could go in the basement.

Landlord Jamestown Properties is working with Starr Restaurant Group on the space, which was built in its current form in 1865. Both Starr and Stokes say they do not plan to alter the exterior of the property.

Starr told the ANC that he was swearing them to secrecy because he didn’t want to give details to the press, but the commissioners informed him he was speaking on a public call. He then joked “Donald Trump and I are doing a restaurant.” Near the end of his presentation, the restaurateur said he thought it was a “good omen” that President Joe Biden visited Le Diplomate the day before he gave his presentation.