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A Slice of Change

Potomac Pizza in the Village undergoes first renovation; AT&T Wireless opens in Semmes Building.

In one night Adam Greenberg watched his restaurant undergo more change than it had seen in the previous 12 years. From closing time at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17 until the reopening for lunch the next day, work crews worked feverishly, ripping out old fixtures and installing new ones. By the time Potomac Pizza in Potomac Village opened for lunch at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, the place looked brand new.

“All the stars were aligned,” said Greenberg of the effort.

Customers, many of whom are regulars, surveyed the new digs as they filed into the restaurant: wood flooring replaced a carpet that Greenberg described as “tired,” a new marble-topped serving station and table tops, new booths, new ceiling tiles, and a new soda-dispenser completed Tuesday night’s work. Other changes that were completed after Tuesday night’s renovation sprint were new bathrooms, new glass partitions along the entrance walkway, and paint and varnish touchups.

“We’ve given [the restaurant] a 90 percent facelift in the front of the house,” Greenberg said. “After 12 years, we felt the people of Potomac deserved a nice new Potomac Pizza.”

The Village location is the flagship franchise of Potomac Pizza and opened in 1995. The new look mirrors that of the Potomac Pizza branch that Greenberg opened in Chevy Chase last year.

While Potomac Pizza looks more upscale now, “It’s still warm and cozy and you can feel comfortable bringing the kids,” Greenberg said.

Colleen Yang, a Potomac resident who said that she and her family eat at the Village location two to three times per year, said the change looked good.

“It’s still a great family place,” said Yang as she and her husband Ben and their three children — Bennett, Georgia, and Oliver — lunched on pepperoni slices.

“The reaction [from customers] has been unbelievable so far,” said B.G. Raymond, the general manager of Potomac Pizza in Potomac Village.

The facelift is part of an overall freshening of the look of Potomac Pizza, Greenberg said. An Italian sausage submarine sandwich and a new olive oil vinaigrette dressing were added to the menu in March. In April Potomac Pizza began offering a Tuesday night special: customers who buy one large pizza can get a second large pizza for 99 cents.

“People were very excited,” said Greenberg of the first such Tuesday. “When someone offers you a 99-cent pizza you take it.” Toppings cost an additional $1.99 each, Greenberg said.

Raymond said that menu prices increased more than a month ago at all four Potomac Pizza locations — an additional one dollar for pizzas and twenty cents per sandwich – but that the regular customers didn’t seem to notice.

“Now [with the renovation] customers are coming up to me and saying, ‘You’re going to have to raise your prices,’” said Raymond. “But we’re not — it already happened.”

GREENBERG HAS BEEN a busy man of late. As Potomac Pizza freshened its face, Greenberg was also at work across the Potomac Promenade parking lot in the Semmes Building.

On Saturday, April 21, Greenberg and his associate Ali Khodayar opened a Cingular/AT&T Wireless franchise, the first wireless store in the Village. It is also the only wireless store within six miles of the Village, Greenberg said.

Greenberg thinks that what will separate his store from other wireless stores is its location and a warm atmosphere.

“People in Potomac — you walk into [any given store] and chances are you see someone who knows you,” said Greenberg. “That’s what people want, they want to go into a warm environment. The problem with the wireless industry is no one knows you or cares,” Greenberg said.

His store will be different, Greenberg said, because of his familiarity to Potomac residents. “Our goal is if you have a problem, you come on in, sit down, [and we] make sure you’re a satisfied customer. … It’s not just about making the sale, it’s about developing a relationship.”

For now the store has signage for both Cingular and AT&T, but as part of the recent merger of the two companies the Cingular language will be phased out over the next two to three months, said Khodayar.