Legendary bartender Sambonn Lek, who reigned at the Mayflower Hotel’s Town & Country Bar for over 30 years, has returned to D.C. from his native Cambodia. He’s now at the St. Regis Bar, still serving his “Sam I Am”cocktails.
Chef & Manager Update: La Tomate owner Natalina Koropoulos has hired Domenico Apollaro as head chef of the 30-year-old restaurant. He was most recently at Lupo Verde …Evan Snyder is now executive chef at New Zealand-themed Cassatt’s Café in Arlington, Virginia. He was previously at Marcel’s and Volt… Juan Rivera, most recently chef de cuisine at Kapnos Taverna in College Park, is now executive chef at Isabella Eatery at Tysons Galleria in Virginia … Andrew Court is now executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, overseeing the Bourbon Steak and Seasons restaurants and the adjoining ENO Wine Bar… Tae Strain is now executive chef at Momofuku at CityCenterDC. He was previously at Progress in San Francisco and Public in New York … Johanna Hellrigl is now executive chef at Doi Moi on 14thStreet. She comes from Via Umbria and Boulangerie Christophe… Sasha Felikson, previously of Doi Moi, is now helping Dacha Beer Garden refine its menu … Mark Slater is now operations manager at Corduroy in downtown D.C.’s Four Points Sheraton Hotel. He was most recently at Pennsylvania 6… William Washington was named director of operations for the D.C.-based restaurants that are part of Schlow Restaurant Group. He was previously with The Inn at Little Washington and Le Diplomate… Nadine Brown is now GM as well as wine director at Cathal Armstrong’s Society Fair in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.
Victor Albisu’s Del Campo in D.C.’s Penn Quarter reopens with a duel concept. In front, Taco Bamba will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Entering via the back patio leads you to Poca Madre, a new contemporary Mexican restaurant.
Anna Bran-Leis, chef-owner of Taqueria Del Barrio in Petworth, plans to expand into the forthcoming food hall at Tastemaker in Brookland at 2800 Tenth St. NE. Bran-Leis also owns and operates the DC Empanadas food truck. Tastemakers is the vision of Kirk and Juliann Francis, owners of Captain Cookie and the Milkman. Taqueria Del Barrio will be joined by Bullfrog Bagels, DC SteakHolders,DCBallers and DC Vegan Catering when the food hall opens this spring.
Ashok Bajoj opened Sababa, an Israeli restaurant, where Ardeo used to be in Cleveland Park. Ryan Moore, formerly of Minibar and Bistro Provence, is the chef. He’s spent a good deal of time in the Middle East as well. Sababa translates to “cool” in Hebrew slang. There’s a theme here, as Bindaas, also in Cleveland Park, translates to “cool” in Hindi.
Michael Schlow will increase his hotel restaurant presence in D.C. when he takes over the old Juniper restaurant at the Fairmont. He currently has two other hotel restaurants: Casolare Ristorante in the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel and The Riggsby in the Carlyle Hotel in Dupont Circle.
Quick Hits: New York-based The Meatball Shopplans to open its first restaurant outside the Big Apple where the relocated Cork Wine Bar used to be on 14thStreet. A summer opening is targeted … Pizza Paradiso signed to open in Spring Valley Village at 4850 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Arizona-based Fox Restaurant Concepts plans to open its fast-casual concept, Flower Child, in the Travilah Square Shopping Center in Rockville, Maryland, in July. Fox also plans to open in Wildwood Shopping Center in nearby Bethesda in the first quarter of 2019. A third location of Flower Child — as well as another Fox full-service concept, North Italia — is slated to open in the first quarter of 2019 in a new building in downtown D.C. at 2112 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, brought to you by Papadopoulos Properties.
Linda Roth is president of Linda Roth Associates, a public relations and marketing firm that specializes in the hospitality industry. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.