WASHINGTON — If you’re walking near Nationals Park in D.C., you might notice even more places to eat and drink. So for the season opener Thursday, baseball fans had plenty of choices for where to celebrate or wallow in misery.
Among the new eateries is Declaration Nats Park on First Street Southeast, where owner Alan Popovsky welcomed in home team fans — and even Mets fans — during the season opener.
“This is our first venture outside of the downtown area, and we chose this location because of proximity to the stadium,” Popovsky said. “And we’re not disappointed.”
During home games, Popovsky is expecting to see a 40 to 60 percent increase in business at his restaurant. It was packed during Thursday’s home game, but after Memorial Day, Popovsky believes things will get even busier.
In sight of the restaurant, several cranes tower nearby as the expansion of the Southwest Waterfront also brings with it new residential buildings to the area. That was also a lure for Declaration.
“This neighborhood is beyond baseball,” Popovsky said, and he listed some of his more notable neighbors, which include Whole Foods and Harris Teeter.
Some other businesses are choosing a temporary position near the ballpark, with the hopes of profiting off game day crowds. On an empty lot at the corner of N and First streets Southeast, well-known D.C.area beer brewer Aslin Beer Company set up a pop-up beer garden.
“We thought we would open up a giant art venue and allow people to express themselves in some way, but we haven’t accomplished that yet. We ended up selling beer,” joked Kai Leszkowicz, co-founder of Aslin.
Manager of Production, Travis Burgess, said the tricky part of adding the Nats fan stand to the company is brewing enough beer to keep the taps flowing at their Herndon, Virginia, brewery and the coolers filled at the ballpark.
Burgess said the stand allows them to better serve the many fans of their beer that are not able to make frequent trips to the brewery.
“Eighty percent of the people who came in here are D.C. residents that were all so excited because we are here and they don’t have to drive and sit in traffic to come out and get the beer that we offer to them,” Burgess said.
Leszkowicz said figuring out how much beer to stock the stand with each game will be part of the learning process. During opening day, the 3,000 cans they brought with them proved to be enough, according to Leszkowicz, but he believes the colder weather played a role in that.
“Better weather — we may have been in a tougher situation,” Leszkowicz said.