-Il Mulino opened downtown at Vermont & L Streets in the first quarter of 2007, followed by Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, when he opened Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert in the Ritz-Carlton in the West End in the final quarter of 2007. Greek restaurant Kellari Taverna opened last year on K Street where Jimmy’s on K used to be. Bond 45 opened the first quarter of this year across the river at National Harbor.
Carmine’s just opened on Seventh Street in Penn Quarter. Now the flood gates have opened. As previously reported, Bobby Flay is looking for sites for his Burger Palace. P.J. Clarke’s will open where Olives was at the corner of16th & K Streets this fall. Also previously reported, Hill Country BBQ is slated to open in Penn Quarter, across from “neighbor” Carmine’s. NY-based BLT Restaurant Group is opening Casa Nonna on Connecticut Avenue where California Pizza Kitchen was. Rande Gerber (Cindy Crawford’s ex) is part of the partnership that includes his brother Scott (the operator) that is scouting sites for his renowned bars, which include Whiskey Blue and Stone Rose. Michael Wang is looking for sites for Luke’s Lobsters. And at the top of the news, NYC restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer just signed a deal to open his burger concept, Shake Shack, where Fuddrucker’s was on 18th Street near Connecticut Avenue. Following its new neighborhood tradition, there will be a selection of frozen custard flavors unique to the Dupont Circle neighborhood.
Chef RJ Cooper, formerly of Vidalia, will open his first independent project, Rogue 24, in D.C.’s Mount Vernon Square neighborhood on Blagden Alley on Ninth Street. Rogue 24 will exclusively offer an interactive 24-course tasting menu (hence the name). Harper McClure will serve as chef de cuisine. McClure hails from Atlanta’s renowned Bacchanalia restaurant and previously worked with Cooper at Vidalia as his sous chef for nearly five years. A winter 2011 opening is forecast.
If at first you do succeed – it’s time to do it again. Since Masa 14 has been so successful, chef/owners Kaz Okochi and Richard Sandoval are planning to open a Mexican taqueria next spring near Masa 14 on 14th Street. It will have three levels, including a basement with a concept that will be fun and different. Because it’s “a license to print money,” a rooftop dining and bar area is also in the works. Because it’s a Mexican theme, chef Sandoval takes the lead on the menu. Their partner, Latif Guler (who also owns Agora) is working on the taqueria with Kaz and Sandoval.
Tony Harris and partner have signed a deal to take over the Bullfeather’s site on Capitol Hill. He also owns Tunnicliff’s, Stoney’s and Ulah Bistro. Look for an American bar and grille concept to open by end of October/beginning of November, thanks to Papadopoulos Properties.
Chicago-based Roti Mediterranean Grill has signed leases to open at The Avenue on Washington Circle, formerly known as Square 54, in Foggy Bottom, and Constitution Square in the NoMa neighborhood. Their first location, which opened in April on Penn Ave near the White House, proved to be such a hit, they plan to expand their healthy Mediterranean fast casual concept in D.C.
B.J. Stone has done well in the restaurant business. He was the first managing partner for Outback Steakhouse in the region, before the founders decided to buy them all back. That went worked out quite well for BJ. Now he plans to open Stone’s Cove with Scott Mowrey in the Village Center at Dulles, The restaurant is scheduled to open by October, if the permit gods allow. Dishes will be offered in three sizes, depending on your appetite. And there will be a hot dog sampler (3 Dog Night), as it appears that nothing can open without a hot dog dish these days. Chef John Csukor of Richmond’s KOR Food Innovations is in charge of the menu. Interesting décor: No tables and no chairs. Everything happens at the bar.
Chef Jose Andres’ company, ThinkFoodGroup, appears to be in a constant state of challenge and growth. Rumor is that he will open a café in the all-new Arena Stage on the southwest waterfront.
Chef Enzo Fargione, formerly of Teatro Goldoni, has formed a restaurant group, Cucina Moderna, that has signed a letter of intent to open a restaurant at 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW (where Central and Ten Penh are). It will be Enzo’s interpretation of modern Italian cooking, called Elisir. In English: Elixir, a mix of flavored liquids from Medieval times, commonly made from grappa or other distilled spirits. He plans to open it by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
Linda Roth Conte is president of Linda Roth Associates, Inc (LRA) specializing in making creative connections through media relations, marketing initiatives, community outreach and special events for the hospitality industry. Contact Linda at 703-417-2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.