The Washington Times retail and hospitality column

June 26, 2007

Jun. 25--AIRPORTS SELLING LINES OF SPY GEAR: The International Spy Museum is expanding the scope of its retail sales division, selling its products in Mid-Atlantic airports this summer.

The museum sells merchandise in its F Street Northwest store, online and by catalog. But this will be the first time its clothes, concealment safes, voice transformers and other spy gadgets will be available otherwise.

The products will be available at America stores in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The Spy Museum plans to expand to other airport locations if the rollout is successful, said Jodi Zeppelin, director of retail.

"It's a great opportunity to be seen by a little bit of a different audience -- people who may have received a gift from the Spy Museum ... or people who've said we always have [the Spy Museum] on the agenda, but we've never been able to get there," she said. "It's an opportunity to be seen by new eyes."

The Beware of Female Spies, Deny Everything and a Ninja Stole My Homework product lines, which includes T-shirts and spy gadgets, will be sold in the airport stores. America stores are popular spots for regional and seasonal-based products, such as the FBI and CIA shirts popular with tourists and Cherry Blossom-themed items.

The Spy Museum products, which went on sale earlier this month, are meeting sales expectations, Ms. Zeppelin said, declining to be more specific.

--Top restaurants honored: The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington announced its annual award winners in a feather boa and glitter-dusted affair last week at the Marriott Wardman Park.

Winners included Rasika for best new restaurant; CityZen for best fine dining restaurant; Tallula Restaurant for best informal dining restaurant; and Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve for best chef.

Rasika and CityZen are downtown restaurants; Tallula is in Arlington and Restaurant Eve is in Alexandria.

"Over the past quarter of a decade, restaurants have boosted the reputation of the D.C. metro area, and have had a tremendous economic impact on the entire region," said association President Lynne Breaux.

Other winners included Sonoma Restaurant and Wine Bar for neighborhood gathering place of the year; Zaytinya for hottest bar scene; Georgia Brown's for power spot; and Lebanese Taverna for people's favorite. Lebanese Taverna has locations throughout the area, while the other restaurants are in the District.

--In other news ...

Flicko's Video Workshop is scheduled to open today in Westwood Village, off Route 3 in Fredericksburg. The store provides equipment to help customers edit or duplicate film or video, or completes the services for customers. It's the Louisville, Tenn., company's first location in the Washington area.

Express and Victoria's Secret stores in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City are expanding.

Express will expand to a larger space on the Metro level. Victoria's Secret will expand its current space to more than 18,000 square feet and add in-store Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret Beauty locations.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays.

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