Top local business stories of 2020

George T. Taft


There were several high-profile company and corporate relocation announcements in the D.C. region in 2020.

Among them was Volkswagen North America’s decision to move its headquarters to Reston Town Center.

Springfield, Virginia-based International Gourmet Foods, one of the largest food wholesalers in the mid-Atlantic, announced plans to move its headquarters to Woodbridge, Virginia.

Spice maker McCormick & Co. chose Baltimore County, Maryland, for the future home of its largest distribution center in the world, at Sparrows Point, relocating several smaller facilities.

And Baltimore asset manager T. Rowe Price announced intentions to stay in Baltimore, with a new waterfront headquarters at Harbor Point.


The year brought several high-dollar acquisitions in the D.C. area.

The largest was Microsoft’s announcement to acquire game developer Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion.

Franklin Templeton announced its $4.5 billion acquisition of Baltimore-based asset manager Legg Mason.

Science Applications International Corp agreed to buy the federal IT services unit of Unisys Corp. for $1.2 billion.

National building materials supply company BMC Stock Holdings agreed to acquire Gaithersburg-based TWP Enterprises, the largest regional building materials supply company, for an undisclosed sum.

And local residential plumbing contractor Len the Plumber was acquired by Thompson Street Capital for an undisclosed sum.

New jobs

While many companies in the D.C. region announced painful job cuts and furloughs, others announced significant hirings.

Among them, Microsoft’s announcement to create 1,500 jobs at a new Research and Development hub in Reston, Virginia.

Fast-growing identification verification company announced plans for more than 1,000 new jobs at its McLean, Virginia, headquarters.

And medical diagnostics company Qiagen announced plans to expand its U.S. headquarters and research and development manufacturing facility in Montgomery County, Maryland, adding a significant number of new jobs.


Among notable bankruptcies in the D.C. region was the Chapter 11 reorganization of Vienna, Virginia-based Hair Cuttery, which closed dozens of locations and emerged under a new ownership structure.

Local restaurant operator Matchbox Restaurant Group filed for Chapter 11 and was sold to Reston, Virginia-based restaurant owner Thompson Hospitality Group.

And what was left of the former cellphone pioneer Nextel Communications, Reston-based NII Holdings officially liquidated and went out of business.


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps partially because of it, new local craft brewers blossomed in 2020.

A former Senate staffer opened City-State Brewing Company in Northeast D.C.

Water’s End Brewery in Lake Ridge, Virginia, started by a former Fairfax County police officer, opened a second location in Woodbridge.

D.C.’s Atlas Brew Works opened its second location outside of Nationals Park in Navy Yard.

Other Half Brewery in Brooklyn, New York, dubbed New York’s “hottest brewery” by New York Magazine, opened a D.C. outpost in the Ivy City neighborhood.

New hotels and museums

Though the hotel industry and cultural attractions were devastated by the dramatic drop in travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, several brand-new ones opened their doors in 2020.

Dutch hotel company CitizenM opened its fifth hotel in the U.S. in Southwest D.C., known for its smallish, high-tech rooms with gigantic beds.

D.C.’s Hotel Donovan reopened as Hotel Zena, which it said celebrates female empowerment.

The Viceroy Washington D.C., from the same company behind Zena, replaced the former Mason and Rook Hotel.

And D.C.’s former Hotel Rouge reopened as the Banneker Hotel, named after Benjamin Banneker, who played a significant role in surveying the land that would become the nation’s capital.

Also new to the region is the National Museum of the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia, and the Planet Word Museum, which opened in D.C.’s historic former Franklin School building.

Restaurant openings

The list of D.C.-area restaurants the pandemic closed in 2020 is depressingly long, so instead, here are some that forged ahead with new openings.

Popular deli Call Your Mother has locations in Georgetown and Capitol Hill and is adding a food trolley in Bethesda, Maryland, and it plans a fifth location in North Bethesda.

Ruthie’s All Day brought its “meat and three” menu to South Arlington, Virginia.

Boston’s Tatte Bakery and Cafe, with an Israeli-inspired menu, opened the first of several D.C.-area locations.

Deaf-owned pizzeria Mozzeria brought pizza and sign language to a new location near Gallaudet University.

Soupergirl landed a $2 million investment for expansion.

CHIKO opened a third location in Bethesda.

Colony Grill brought its “hot oil” pizza to Arlington.

Surfside opened a new location at The Wharf.

Taco Rock opened its second location in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Colorful Pennyroyal Station opened its restaurant in Mount Rainier, Maryland.

And Farmbird, Yelp!’s favorite D.C. restaurant, announced plans for a Ballston location.

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