The folks at American Tobacco have released a web-based survey on dining options and interests, noting that the District "is expanding, and as part of this, we’re thinking about adding more dining venues and would like your help deciding what they should be."
Currently, the ATC has four restaurants and a Starbucks; the eating venues range from the popular Tyler's and Mellow Mushroom, to the more mixed-bag Symposium Cafe, and Cafe Zen, which gathers a decent lunch business but far less business on nights and weekends. Meanwhile, the Starbucks -- which is actually operated by Duke University's outsourced dining vendor -- rolls the gates down at 4pm on weekdays and all day on weekends.
(As much traffic as these options get at lunchtime, one definite change I've noticed in the past year has been how much more frequently Ambacco employees are walking up Blackwell at lunch, breaching the railroad tracks and downtown loop and walking to Toast, Rue Cler, and other City Center locations. Twelve to eighteen months ago, you saw practically no one taking the stroll; these days, I usually see a few lunch bunches heading out and up to the rest of downtown.)
Still, as we've discussed here before, both the Power Plant and the coal shed on the ATC core campus are expected to gather new restaurants in the coming year, with the rumor mill still pointing to high-end dining options. And the Diamond View II/III complex brings an opportunity for additional food and shopping locations.
The survey asks how often you eat out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and what you pay. The poll also asks about how ATC diners would react to a wide range of meal options. Frighteningly, quick casual restaurant is listed as one poll option, stating -- I am not making this up -- "such as an Applebee's." (Somehow I'd be surprised to see such banality opening up shop in American Tobacco.)
More happily, questions include a desire for input about a deli/sub shop or convenience store/small market, two businesses that ATC regulars often complain are lacking. Fine-dining and a steak house are both listed, too; we wonder how this aligns with the very persistent rumors of a Ben Benson's steakhouse for the Power Plant building at the heart of the historic district.
There's also a question about what factors would lead you to increase your number of visits to the ATC for dinner. The questions range from the ridiculous ("better security" -- I'm assuming we're not talking about Team Segway here -- and "more nationally recognized chain restaurants") to the more sublime (like "higher quality offerings" and "more unique or locally-owned restaurants.")
Needless to say, you should surf on over to give your feedback on restaurant choices, lest the local chapter of the Fans of Applebee's discover it first.