Brothers Eric and Ian Hilton have built their restaurant empire around up-and-coming dining neighborhoods like U Street NW and, more recently, Petworth. So it came as a bit of a surprise when the team behind Marvin, The Gibson, The Brixton, and others announced yesterday that their next restaurant will be in… Georgetown?
The new spot, located in the former Cafe La Ruche space, will be called Chez Billy Sud, because it's south of its Petworth sister restaurant Chez Billy, and because its menu will focus more on southern French food from Provence and Lyon rather than Parisian bistro fare. It's slated to open in August.
"I'm 42 years old, I grew up in D.C., so I remember when Georgetown was all that I did," says Ian Hilton. "It's a great neighborhood. It's not something I'm used to, but there's a nice historical value, and it's a good place for reputation building."
Hilton adds that Chez Billy is a very "grown-up" restaurant, and Georgetown tends to be a neighborhood with "grown-up" tastes. "We think the product translates pretty well to that audience," he says.
One of the biggest differences between the two locations will be the bar scene. While the bar is a large component of the Petworth restaurant, the Georgetown spot has only about four seats at its glorified service bar. "Any cocktail program or wine program will be taking place at the actual dining table rather than at a bar," Hilton says.
Executive chef Brendan L'Etoile will oversee both locations. The menu of Chez Billy Sud will be a little more "experimental," Hilton says, and will change more frequently, too. The 60-seat space also has an additional 60-seat outdoor patio. Joe Reza, who designed the original Chez Billy, will also outfit the "cute, cozy" dining room of the new spot.
Just because the Hilton brothers have ventured into Georgetown doesn't mean they're U Streeted-out. "They're mutually exclusive. There's still things that maybe we'll do around U Street," Hilton says. For example, the Hiltons are still looking to do something with the Montserrat House space across from the 9:30 Club, although they're not sure exactly what. And there may be expansion to other D.C. neighborhoods someday in the future:
"I want to have a pizza place on the beach," Hilton says. "Maybe on the river, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen anytime soon."
Chez Billy Sud, 1039 31st St. NW
Photo of bone marrow at Chez Billy by Darrow Montgomery