The Latest Dish 12/8

Hamilton Johnson plans to open his own restaurant, Honeysuckle, where he spent eight years as chef de cuisine: Vidalia, in D.C.’s Golden Triangle. He developed the concept at Prequel. Jeff Buben will close Vidalia, but continue to operate Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill and Woodward Table downtown.

Todd Gray and his wife and business partner Ellen Kassoff Gray of Equinox will open an Israeli street-food café called Manna and a coffee shop named Milk & Honey inside the Museum of the Bible. This new museum at 409 3rd St. SW, former site of the Washington Design Center, will open in the fall of 2017. Expect drama — the museum comes from the evangelical billionaire behind Hobby Lobby. It’s not the first religious venture for the Grays, who researched and wrote a cookbook titled “The New Jewish Table.” They will also cater events at the museum, as they did when they ran the Corcoran’s café and catering operation.

Chef James Martin plans to open his Spanish restaurant, Pamplona, at 3100 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington before the year’s end. Some dishes will be classic, some innovative. It’s patatas bravas versus olive oil honey ice cream with serrano ham. Martin had most recently been executive chef at Restaurant Nora. Born in D.C. and raised in Landover, Maryland, he calls Pamplona a “farm-to-table Spanish restaurant.” This is more than a trend statement coming from a chef who worked at the country’s first certified organic — and continually certified organic — restaurant. He also worked at Vidalia, Bistro Bis and Bourbon Steak, as well as at Jean-Georges in New York and North Pond Restaurant in Chicago. The 70-seat restaurant with two small bars will offer beer and sangria on tap and wine and cider sourced from Spain.

Chef/GM/Bar Manager Update: Meagan Tighe is the new pastry chef at Trummer’s on Main in Clifton, Virginia. The chef recently worked at Dovetail and the Nomad Hotel in New York … Brandon McDermott is the new chef at Captain Gregory’s in Alexandria. He will also direct the food operation at its sister restaurant, Nocturne, slated to open in D.C. in 2017. He was the executive chef of Caboose Brewing Co. … Jeffrey Surma is executive chef for the Restaurant at the Goodstone in Middleburg. He spent 15 years at McLean’s Capital Grille … Ben Cohen heads up the kitchen at WK Hearth in Purcellville, Virginia, part of the Wine Kitchen restaurant group … Freddie Bitsoie, Navajo, is the new chef at Mitsitam Café at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. His creds are the real thing — more than 10 years’ experience incorporating Native American foods and ingredients into dishes. His previous gig was at Fire Rock Casino in Church Rock, New Mexico … Rachel Sergi heads up the bar at The Next Whisky Bar at the Watergate Hotel. She comes from Quarter+Glory (among others) and is active in the DC Craft Bartenders Guild.

More at the Wharf: Florentijn, a Belgian bistro from former Belgian Embassy chef Jan Van Haute, will open as an ultra-modern bistro at the Wharf. Van Haute has been operating the Haute Saison catering company since his embassy gig … Blue Bottle Coffee Company, based in Oakland, California, will also open in the Wharf’s expanded fish market area, to be called Market Square. The coffee roaster is coming to Georgetown, too, on Potomac Street where Down Dog Yoga was.

Blue Bottle Coffee Company.

Blue Bottle Coffee Company.

Ch-ch-changes: Brabo by Robert Wiedmaier, in Kimpton’s Lorien Hotel & Spa in Old Town Alexandria, is open again after being closed for renovations … Henry’s Soul Café at 1704 U St. NW was rebuilt after a fire and reopened.

Just Opened: On Rye opened on 6th Street NW in Penn Quarter, a bagel’s throw from the Verizon Center. Yes, it’s a Jewish deli with Lerner connections … Georgetown now has Undraa’s Café where Café Mayo used to be on Dumbarton Street, as well as &pizza number 19 at 1335 Wisconsin Ave. … Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery landed at Reagan National Airport … Tommy Joe’s is where Boulevard Tavern used to be in Kentlands in Gaithersburg, Maryland … Dish and Dram, from the folks who brought you The Daily Dish, opened in Kensington, Maryland, on Kensington Parkway … Hilltop Bar & Restaurant opened in Columbia Heights, with Angel Franco heading the kitchen ops … Richmond-based Lemon Cuisine of India opened in Dupont Circle at 2120 P St. NW … Petworth’s very popular Upshur Street NW now has Ruta del Vino, a Latin American wine bar, and New Japanese Himitsu a few doors down, where Crane & Turtle used to be … Ellsworth Place in Silver Spring has two new places now open: Dave & Buster’s and Kung Fu Tea … Florida-based sports bar & restaurant Miller’s Ale House opened in Sterling … Famous Toastery opened in Ashburn’s Loudoun Station.

Quick Hits: Felt Bar & Lounge and Blossom Cocktail Lounge are to open this month at MGM National Harbor … Riverdale Park Station in PG County is getting a District Taco, Mod Pizza, Burton’s Grill, Habit Burger, Jersey Mike’s and, of course, a Starbucks … Cuban-themed restaurant and coffee shop Colada Shop is slated to open its second location Jan. 26, just after the presidential inaugural, at 14th and T Streets NW. Its first location is in Sterling.

Openings Update: Founding Farmers at Reston Station will open in summer 2017 … Farmers & Distillers is slated to open mid-December at 601 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Linda Roth is president of Linda Roth Associates, a public relations and marketing firm that specializes in the hospitality industry. Reach her at

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