Takoma Park in 1984 was a different place when it came to finding a bite to eat, longtime city resident Emily van Loon recently recalled.
“When I first arrived, there weren’t really any restaurant choices,” van Loon said.
Those choices, however, have grown throughout the years, she said.
Takoma Park diners will have even more choices with a wave of new eateries coming to the city or just across the Washington, D.C., line in the next year or so, including restaurateur Jeff Black’s latest establishment, a Busboys and Poets, a gelato cafe and a coffee bar.
Laura Barclay, co-director of the Old Takoma Business Association, said “a transformation is underway” in Old Takoma that began during the past few years with the introduction of businesses such as Capital City Cheesecake, Roscoe’s Pizzeria and Takoma Bistro.
With the latest additions, Barclay said in an email, “Old Takoma will have an even stronger more varied mix of dining options available for the community and DC area diners alike making Old Takoma an obvious, and metro accessible, dining destination.”
Just in time for spring, Dolci Gelati Cafe is set to open in April at 7000 Carroll Ave. as a combination gelato shop and coffeehouse.
“We do over 250 flavors,” with 12 flavors available at a time. owner Gianluigi Dellaccio said of his all-natural, homemade, authentic Italian gelato.
For both Dellaccio and café partner Marcello Minna — who each have their fair share of business experience — Dolci Gelati Cafe will mark their first time running such a shop.
Dellaccio said they had their eye on the Carroll Avenue location since November and that both his home and warehouse are close to the Takoma Park café.
The choice of location, he said, also was tied in part to the exit of ice cream shop Summer Delights, which closed in January.
“It makes sense for us to come to Takoma Park,” Dellaccio said.
Dellaccio’s gelato already can be found in the area — such as at Nationals Park and Whole Foods stores — as well as abroad.
He said he plans to point his customers at the Washington, D.C., stadium to the café, which he thinks will be part of a shift in the city.
“I think the area’s going to completely change,” Dellaccio said.
Only steps away, also in Old Takoma, Jeff Black’s new, still unnamed restaurant is scheduled to open in Fall 2013 on Laurel Avenue where Video Americain and Summer Delights once stood.
“It’s a community that’s been begging for a restaurant — literally — for a long time,” said Danny Wells, the executive chef and Black’s partner at the Takoma Park business.
Wells, who was born and raised in Takoma Park, said he had been pushing Black for a while to put a restaurant in the city that he said they agree is “underserved as far as restaurants go.”
While some things remained in development, he said, the “seasonal American restaurant” will include a dining room with likely about 60 seats, a raw bar and a patio area.
The menu, he said, will include more seafood than meats and an emphasis on vegetarian dishes — in part to reflect some Takoma Parkers’ tastes.
“I also like cooking vegetables,” Wells said.
The atmosphere as well as the food will reflect the surrounding community, said Wells, who described the upcoming location as “casual” and “more approachable,” likely with live music appearances.
In spring 2014, a Busboys and Poets will open on Carroll Street in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, D.C. — a spot well within reach of Takoma Parkers.
Owner Andy Shallal said in a February interview he had heard from both Takoma neighborhood and Takoma Park residents eager for a location in their community, one he is “very familiar with.”
“We fill a unique niche,” Shallal said of the business, which he also described as “a community gathering space” that will include poetry, music, art, books and discussions.
For some business owners in the city, the new arrivals signal a positive change that will draw more people to the area and improve the city’s food diversity.
Over at Capital City Cheesecake, co-owner Meaghan Murphy said they’re excited for the new arrivals and the choices they will add.
It’s a great sign, Murphy said, that businesses are seeking out Takoma Park.
“You want a community that’s always welcoming new businesses,” she said.
For van Loon, diverse food options in the city allow people to walk rather than drive to restaurants, enable people of all incomes to enjoy a bite to eat and even provide an anniversary-dinner spot, she said.
Yet, she said, she and other residents are committed to the existing small businesses that help give the community its personality.
If a new restaurant should take away business from them, she said, “We’ll be right there saying we won’t go.”