On Friday afternoon when the flakes began to fall, owners Bill and Suzy Menard said they weren’t going anywhere. Restaurants and businesses shuttered up and down Wisconsin Avenue, but Via Umbria had no such plans. The store had recently moved to Georgetown, and everyone agreed this blizzard would be a perfect opportunity to get to know the neighbors.
Scott Weiss, Via Umbria’s resident charcutier, stayed until close that evening with a handful of other staff. “I saw a lot of cases of wine leaving,” he recalls. “We probably sold 6-8 chickens that day … normally we sell about 6 chickens a week.”
By nightfall, the blizzard was in full force. Everyone trekked over to the Georgetown Inn, where they stayed two to a room and made the journey back to the shop on foot the next morning. The glow of the Via Umbria storefront was the only light as far as the eye could see, and the neighborhood took note.
“We were packed all weekend,” Scott remembers. “All the seats were filled in the cafe downstairs, and the communal tables up in the Laboratorio and Galleria were full too.” Chef Simone cooked for coworkers and patrons alike in the Via Umbria demo kitchen, and Scott trotted out his barista skills to keep a steady stream of espresso flowing all weekend. Guests tucked in to the cafe’s stash of boardgames, enjoying endless rounds of Battleship, Quiddler, and Apples to Apples.
“It was fun, because we got to see a lot of people who otherwise would have been busy or working,” said hospitality and events manager Lindsey Menard, who spoke with the Georgetown Current about what it was like to be one of the few neighborhood spots open during the storm.
Many thanks to everyone who dropped by. We hope to see you soon!