This Week: Eat Meat, Repeat

January 16, 2015

Meat Week, a national holiday started in Tallahassee in 2005 and celebrated in cities across the country, begins on the last Sunday in January. Kicking off this week through Feb. 2,  the week’s focus is gathering with friends in the name of American barbecue. Each city has a designated captain who creates a schedule for the week at various area restaurants. This year’s participating cities include Atlanta, Ga., Austin, Texas, Baltimore, Md., Baton Rouge, La., Columbus, Ohio, Greenville, N.C., Iowa City, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Tallahassee, Fla. and D.C. 

According to Meat Week’s website, the longest-consecutively-running chapters are: Tallahassee, Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Mike Bober is D.C.’s meat captain. 

Vegetarians should stay home as the eight-night celebration of barbecued meats visit at least seven different  highlighted restaurants. This week’s D.C. schedule includes: Hill Country Barbecue Market, DCity Smokehouse at Showtime Lounge, Pork Barrel BBQ, Smoke BBQ, D.C. Meat Week Food Truck Face-Off hosted by LivingSocial and Mr. P’s Ribs. For a complete schedule and meaty details, visit

Winter Restaurant Week

Say goodbye to your New Year’s resolutions
of eating less. Winter Restaurant
Week 2014 kicked off on Monday with a
record-breaking 250 restaurants participating in
the bi-annual week dedicated to eating your way
through the region.

Winter Restaurant Week features special
prices coinciding with the year with a prix-fixe
three-course lunch for $20.14 and three-course
dinner for $35.14 through Sunday, Jan. 19.
The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan
Washington represents members of the growing
restaurant industry in the District, Northern
Virginia and suburban Maryland and showcases
Restaurant Week every summer and winter
encouraging diners to “Dine Out. Eat Up.”
Most restaurants feature special menus for
the seven-days of foodie heaven, giving diners
a unique chance to try an old favorite or explore
a new option.

“Restaurant Week is a great time to take
a ride into town to try something new,” said
RAMW marketing and communications director
Kyle Rees.

New for Winter Restaurant Week 2014 is a
guidebook full of reviews from Open Table on
the participating restaurants. The book is available
at a number of D.C. hotels and can help narrow
down the overwhelming number of choices
for the week.

If looking for something new, a few restaurants
in the District are making their debut
to Restaurant Week including; Mike Isabella’s
Kapnos and G (2201 14th St NW), Alba Osteria
(425 “I” St NW), The Arsenal (300 Tingey St.
SE) and Teddy & the Bully Bar (1200 19th St.

“Restaurant week offers a great promotion
for our regional diners to dine out and try many
new and existing restaurants around town,” said
RAMW president and CEO Kathy Hollinger.
Another addition is the “Try Something New
in 2014” contest. Through Restaurant Week’s
partner NBC4, diners who “Like” NBC4 on
Facebook will be entered to win a prize package
including lunch for two at J&G Steakhouse and
two “Blissage 75” massages at Bliss Spa, both
located within the W Hotel on 15th Street, NW.
Sponsors of Restaurant Week include Meat
and Livestock Australia, Cuisine Solutions,
Open Table and American Express with media
partners NBC4, 94.7 Fresh FM and DC Modern

For the full list of participating restaurants, visit

Remodeling for Modern Life

July 2, 2014

John and Kristin Cecchi’s life could be a reality TV show. But it wouldn’t involve cameras following them to Peacock Cafe or Fiola Mare. HGTV would hit closer to home, since John is a real estate developer. The 39-year-old, soon to turn 40, has renovated eight houses in Georgetown, the neighborhood where he and Kristin reside.

“Georgetown seems to be what’s in,” John said. “It’s the ‘it’ place.”

After John’s father, Giuseppe Cecchi, built the Watergate, considered D.C.’s first mixed-use development, he started IDI Group Companies. John began working for IDI after college in 1996, first in customer service.

Making his way up through the ranks, by 2008, John was named vice president and project manager of an IDI project in Alexandria. (The project was shelved due to the declining market and economy.) At the same time, he was building his own home on P Street in Georgetown. It was then that he realized there was a market for restoring and renovating historic homes.

John launched IDI Residential, a division of IDI Group Companies, in 2008. “I figured it out late,” John said. “I should have been doing this since ’96.”

His most recently finished project, 2305 Bancroft Place in Kalorama, was John’s first house outside Georgetown and the first celebrated with an opening party.

“The first time we decided to tell people what we were doing, it went big,” John said of Bancroft – a Washington Post house of the week that also appeared in Home & Design magazine.

“We like to stay hush-hush about our houses. Just build them, renovate them and sell them,” he said.

Historically, Kalorama has been D.C.’s wealthy neighborhood: bigger yards, bigger homes. The elegance of embassies and black cars makes you feel like you’re in an important place, John said.

“It’s one class of people, where in Georgetown you have your $8 million house next to two college kids.”

Doing a house in Kalorama takes patience, according to John, who is currently renovating another house in the neighborhood. “It’s not so volatile of a market, but things do sell there and second only to Georgetown in the area. It’s not the village feel that Georgetown has.”

Back in Georgetown, John has renovated two houses on P Street (with work on a third about to begin), two on Dumbarton, one on 31st and two on N, plus the N Street Condominiums.

Three homes a year is a good pace, according to John, who describes his business as taking a great house with unrealized potential and working through the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and the Old Georgetown Board to make renovations and sometimes additions.

“I try to work within the walls and create a better space.”

John and Kristin are currently renting their house on N Street, where John took a deteriorating home and made it livable in a mere 26 days.

“It looked like a haunted house that should have been condemned,” Kristin said. “The ceiling was crumbling. It was in disrepair.”

John asked for 26 days to whip the house into shape.

“Not my kind of finished product, but I did a very heavy lipstick,” John said.

Like an episode of “House Hunters Renovation,” the couple sanded, scraped, painted and fixed up all the rough, superficial parts of the house. “We even had the appropriate arguments,” said Kristin.

They added carpet and painted the wood floors white. John changed the upstairs layout, turning a bedroom into Kristin’s closet. Kristin picked out all new light fixtures. They hung artwork from around the world on the large white walls.

The couple moved to N Street in December of 2013 with their five-month-old daughter Valentina and two-and-a-half-year-old son Antonio in tow.

“It’s not as perfect as our old one, on P Street,” Kristin said. “That house was such a jewel, but after kids it was like a tight pair of designer pants.”

“Now we’re in a pair of sweatpants,” John said. “It’s comfortable.”
Around the time they moved into their home, John purchased another house on N Street to renovate.

“John is so artistic,” Kristin said. “These are like art projects to him. I joke that he has laser beams in his head. He walks in a house, scans the room and sees everything in his head. He gets these end results that are absolutely beautiful, but there has to be a profit at the end of the day.”

The whole process is envisioning the end product, Kristin says. “It’s a big guessing game, but the more we do it the better business we produce.”

The guiding principle is to adapt a house’s layout to the way people live today. That generally means a formal space in the front of the house and an open floor plan in the back – for the kitchen and an informal dining and breakfast area.

Sometimes a complete overhaul of the second level and master suite is needed to update the home. The all-important master suite encompasses a his-and-hers walk-in closet, a large bathroom with a toilet closet, a double vanity, a soaking tub and a rain shower.

John’s goal is to preserve a home’s historic charm while updating the design and layout and adding state-of-the-art systems. Working with contractors and interior designers, John’s homes are staged and finished to perfection before selling – that is, if they can stay on the market that long. All of the N Street condos were sold before they were finished. John says that the houses he renovates in Georgetown typically sell in 45 days or less.

“Each house has its own little story,” John said. “From when you purchase it, what you find when you start gutting it and what it turns out to be, there are parts that you didn’t expect to surprise you.”

Transforming Georgetown’s storied homes, one day the Cecchis just might find a camera crew on their doorstep. [gallery ids="101796,140741,140717,140722,140743,140728,140733,140737" nav="thumbs"]

Le Décor for Dad

June 30, 2014

This Father’s Day, give Dad a gift he won’t throw in a closet and forget. These gifts give back, in and around the house. Toast Dad on his special day and get him something memorable – to be shared with family and friends alike.

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Upscale Resale: Georgetown’s Boutiques

June 5, 2014

With crisp temperatures and the holidays quickly approaching, nothing is quite as refreshing as updating your fall and winter wardrobe. And while it sounds festive, a closet makeover may not bring much cheer when shopping for high-end items on a budget. However, five second-hand stores and consignment shops here in Georgetown are keeping resale upscale, trendy and, most importantly, affordable.

Ready to update your fall wardrobe? Let’s get shopping.

Buffalo Exchange is a national chain that opened its store at M & Potomac a year ago. The store has both women’s and men’s clothing and shoes as well as women’s accessories. The store is not consignment, but resale where trades are made over the counter and sellers paid on the spot. Those selling items can either receive 50 percent of the sale price for store credit, or be paid 30 percent in cash. Store credit never expires and can be used at any Buffalo Exchange. The Georgetown store’s associate manager Sade Persad says the store buys in items based on what is current and trendy.

“From Target to Saks, we don’t look for certain brands.” Persad said. “If it’s something that we feel reflects our customers, we buy it in.”

The personal aspect is appealing to Persad, who said the store interacts with customers to cater to what they are shopping for. Inventory reflects local shoppers, making every Buffalo Exchange store different.

Persad advised to check out the store frequently as inventory is constantly changing and items can sell within five minutes of being on the floor.
Buffalo Exchange works with local charities and also holds a number of promotional events.

Buffalo Exchange is located at 3279 M St., NW. Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 7 p.m., Sunday.

Krista Johnson opened Ella-Rue, a high-end consignment shop, in November 2010. The boutique is named after Krista’s two rescue dogs: Ella, a Pit Bull, and Rue, a Jack Russell terrier.

The store is light and bright, and clothes line both walls with two small curtain-drawn dressing rooms at the back.

“I designed the store to emulate your super fabulous, hardworking and maybe famous friend’s closet,” Johnson said.

Opening a store had been a dream of Johnson’s since she was a little girl. When the economy went sour, she decided to open a high-end consignment store.

Both Johnson and store manager Lolly Amons are local, yet their consigners span beyond Georgetown.

“We have clients all over the country so our store has closets from Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Hawaii, Palm Beach and South Hampton,” Johnson said. Ella-Rue carries new with tag items from top designers like Shoshanna, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel.

Most of the women’s clothing and accessories in the store have an East Coast vibe, according to Amons, and consignors get a 50-50 split of the final sale price.
Ella-Rue holds fundraisers for charities and often supports animal rescues. It will host a third-anniversary party in early November.

Ella-Rue is at 3231 P St., NW, and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m., Sunday.

The newest consignment shop on the block is Reddz Trading, which opened in June. Owner Wendy “Red” Ezrailson opened her first trading store three years ago in Bethesda, Md. But Ezrailson’s retail experience didn’t start there. She and her husband owned Commander Salamander and Up Against the Wall in Georgetown for 40 years, before taking on consignment.

Back in her “old stomping ground,” Ezrailson said her vision for Reddz was to make it look like a boutique. “I wanted to make it look really nice inside so people shop in a good atmosphere,” she said. The store boasts bright red doors with accents of red décor on the inside.

Reddz merchandise includes brands from J. Crew through high-end designers. Ezrailson said the store is diverse— you could be looking for anything from a Chanel suit for $800 to a J. Crew top for $18. “I like that we have a nice variety in the store—letting everyone in— not feeling rejected in anyway,” she said.
The store carries women’s clothing and accessories and men’s clothing, however Ezrailson said she’s waiting for men to bring in items. Shopping at Reddz is all about looking for the treasure, according to Ezrailson. Sellers receive 30 percent for the item or 45 percent in the form of a trade card to use in the store.
“You will have a great experience selling your clothes with us,” she said.

Trading at Reddz happens at 1413 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Open 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday.

Back on M Street is another consignment chain, whose flagship store started just outside of Boston 40 years ago. Second Time Around has seen a lot of foot traffic in Georgetown, according to the store manager Lauren Broccoli.

Broccoli said college students are catching on to the idea of resale. “Clients are telling their friends and it’s a great way to replenish your wardrobe,” she said.
Second Time Around carries women’s clothing, shoes and bags at their Georgetown location. Broccoli said the store is special because people are “on the hunt” for something unique but always walk out surprised. The shop stands out because it has a little of everything, catering to an age demographic of 17 to 75, according to Broccoli.

Consignment payment with the store is monthly and consignors receive 40 percent of the final sale. Consigning a high-end designer handbag will get you 50 percent of the sale. Clients can keep the sale as in-store credit for wardrobe recycling.

Second Time Around is at 3289 M St., NW, and open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday.
The last stop of chic consignment in Georgetown is Tari.

The boutique feel of Tari causes many customers to walk in unknowing it’s consignment.

“We try to find our balance within it,” Alida said. “Overall it’s a positive and people enjoy the shopping experience.”

Tari takes in moderate brands to high-end designers and vintage pieces.

“Always expect to find some little treasure here,” Alida said.

The store is affiliated with D.C. Fashion Foundation and supports local designers by featuring their pieces every season. Tari has both women’s and men’s clothing as well as women’s accessories.

Owner Sara Mokhtari builds relationships with clients through the store’s unique consignment process. Consignors have a 50-50 split. Items in the store are marked at 65-75 percent off retail and new items with tags are marked at 50 percent. Consignors get a 60-40 split if they make the sale for store credit.
“It’s always great to take a peek in because you never know what kind of deal you will find,” Alida said.

Tari is located at 1525 Wisconsin Ave., NW., and open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through [gallery ids="118755,118752" nav="thumbs"]

Sneakers at The Ball

Gala season is in full swing. And as inspired by this issue’s fashion editorial, everyone also has a different ball on the mind – – basketball. As your Saturday nights fill with black tie affairs and your March Madness brackets continue to bust, make room for the season’s starting line-up featuring Jimmy Choo and others embracing the sporty chic sneaker trend. As seen all over the runway, take these court-friendly numbers to this season’s best balls. [gallery ids="101682,144152,144154,144133,144136,144141,144144,144149" nav="thumbs"]

Retailer Alice and Olivia Set to Make Mid-Atlantic Debut in Georgetown

May 9, 2014

Women’s clothing boutique Alice and Olivia has signed a 10-year lease to make its Mid-Atlantic debut at 3303 M St., NW, EastBanc, Inc., announced April 28. The 2,400-square-foot retail space on M Street has been vacant since Qdoba Mexican Grill closed its doors in January.

The high-end apparel company is slated to open in September. According to EastBanc, Inc., the lease begins immediately and Alice and Olivia will start renovations right away.

Alice and Olivia is an upscale women’s clothing brand designed by founder Stacey Bendet, who launched the brand in 2002. The collection is full of color, florals and modern black and white pieces with an edgy flare. Bendet is best known for her bold bell bottom pants, pulling in vintage pieces to her contemporary collections.

Celebrity fans of the brand include Gwyneth Paltrow, Katy Perry, Drew Barrymore, Taylor Swift and Jamie Chung. Alice and Olivia is headquartered in New York City and is currently available at 13 free-standing boutiques in New York, California, Connecticut and Hong Kong, at more than 800 select department and specialty stores worldwide. Take a sneak peak at before it hits the streets of Georgetown.
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Touring the Trails of Virginia Wine Country

April 23, 2014

An up and coming wine destination unlike any other, Virginia’s deep wine history dates back to Jamestown and the settlers who each tended 10 vines. Vintner Thomas Jefferson made it his life mission to produce a successful vineyard and their experimental harvesting now yields the region’s award-winning wines. Last October, the seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson featured Virginia wines for the first time. Time Magazine’s article on the book even named Virginia the “newest chapter in American wine history” calling Boxwood Estate’s merlot blends “wines that California would have to respect”. With more than 230 wineries spanning the Commonwealth, there is no better way to take in the vino, scenery and historic sites than through the many trails and tours.

The array of routes allow for a fun, educational day experiencing multiple wineries with two or 20 people. Meet the winemakers, visit a part of the countryside you otherwise wouldn’t and most importantly grow in your knowledge of Virginia wines. Here are a number of trails and tours to check out this season, visit for a state-wide list. Cheers!

The Great Skedaddle: Wine on 29
Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Craft Winery and Winery at Bull Run make up this wine trail formed along Route 29, the path of The Great Skedaddle, a term used to describe the unorganized retreat of Union troops back to Washington after their unexpected defeat at the first battle of Bull Run in 1861.

The Blue Ride Wine Way
The Blue Ridge Wine Way is recognized as Virginia’s premier wine region featuring five counties in the Northern Virginia region. Wineries include; Gray Ghost Vineyards, LaGrange Winery, Mediterranean Winery, Molon Lave, Narmada Winery, Oasis Winery, Pearmund Cellars, Rappahannock Cellars and Unicorn Winery. This trail is just under an hour drive from D.C.

Northern Neck/Chesapeake Bay Trail
The Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail features nine wineries which include; Oak Crest Winery, Ingleside Vineyards, Belle Mount Vineyards, General’s Ridge Vineyard, Vault Field Vineyards, Athena Vineyard and Winery, Jacey Vineyards, Good Luck Cellars and The Dog and Oyster. April 26 is the 2nd Annual Spring Oyster Crawl on the Wine Trail. Visit for more information.

Loudoun County Wine Trail
The wine trail of Loudoun Country is so large it is broken into five clusters; Loudoun Heights, Waterford, Potomac, Mosby, Harmony and Snickers Gap. Find the complete list of more than 30 wineries at and look for the developing

211 Scenic Vino Trail
The Vino Trail on Route 211 leads to Shenandoah National Park and runs beside the quaint village of Little Washington. Along the way sit five wineries; Unicorn, Magnolia, Gray Ghost, Narmada, Gadino, Little Washington and Quievremont.

Monticello Wine Trail
The wineries on the Monticello Wine Trail were inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision of winemaking and claim the birthplace of American wine. This Charlottesville trail holds 30 wineries.

Area Services and Guided Tour Companies

Divine Wine Tours of Virginia;
Fairfax Va.


Dominion Wine Tour;
Catharpin, Va.


Point to Point Limousines;
Catharpin, Va.


Reston Limousines;
Reston Va.


Chariots for Hire;
Sterling, Va.


Boomerang Tours; Washington


Fairfax Limo Wine Tours; Sterling, Va.


Local Startup Stylecable Pops Up at 1776

April 21, 2014

From the outside, D.C.’s startup hub 1776 looks like any other downtown office building. The lobby is bathed in dark marble, and an I.D. is needed to proceed to the elevator. But step onto the top floor and you land on a shared office space and event venue mash-up, filled with young entrepreneurs and startups working in the physical home of their virtual business. From artists to techies to fashion, 1776 houses a mix of businesses and hosts various events in the space after hours. On April 23, online retailer Stylecable will host its official launch party with a pop up shop and evening with the store’s local designers.

Uyen Tang, founder of Stylecable, started the site a year ago and went live in November of 2013. Tang started her business after traveling as a Foreign Service officer and collecting a wardrobe that spanned the world.

“People would say, ‘Oh, my gosh, where did you get that?’ and I would have to tell them a random country, where they couldn’t access it,” Tang said.
Her original idea behind Stylecable was to bring those hard-to-find pieces to the U.S. market and showcase emerging fashion designers.

After leaving the Foreign Service, Tang received her MBA from Wharton Business School, worked in management consulting for a little more than two years and then took the plunge into starting her own business.

After researching online retail options like Etsy, Tang took classes through the Founder Institute and launched Stylecable.

“Designers can really shine on the site,” Tang said of the connection shoppers can have as a fan of the 13 and counting designers featured on Stylecable. Currently, all of the site’s designers are entrepreneurial women selected by Tang who also hand selects all of the products to fit Stylecable’s “modern and edgy” style.

In the future, Tang is looking to explore men’s wear, a brick and mortar store and a pre-order function on the site for designers to show their upcoming designs.

The pop up party on April 23 will host around 500 people and give shoppers the opportunity to feel and try-on the products. Sarah Cecelia Jewelry will be one of the many local designers at the launch party and will give a demonstration of her jewelry line.

The party runs 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 1776, 1133 15th Street NW. Tickets can be purchased at Visit to learn more about the designers and see their products.

Easter Brunching at Its Best

April 11, 2014

If Washingtonians could go pro in one thing it would be brunching. With the Easter holiday around the corner, D.C. chefs and restaurants are offering up their best mix of mid-day eats. From family friendly meals with the Easter bunny to quiet waterside venues, there’s an appealing menu for every appetite.


Easter brunch at iconic 1789 includes a table side appearance of the Easter Bunny and a two-course Easter brunch menu including an asparagus and bacon tartlet with smokey blue cheese, caramelized spring onions and vincotto as a first course option and a main course selection of leg of lamb with fennel spiced yogurt, crispy chickpeas and pea shoots. Entree prices range from $28-40.

1226 36th Street NW, 202-965-1789

Billy Martin’s Tavern

Washington’s oldest family-owned restaurant, Billy Martin’s Tavern, is serving up a spinoff of their house brunch favorites. Appearing on the Easter menu is caramelized banana French toast served with brandy macerated berry compote and applewood bacon, ham or link sausage as well as Chef’s eggs benedict – a fried green tomato, topped jumbo lump crab and two poached eggs covered with hollandaise.

1264 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202-333-7370

Brasserie Beck

Only at a Belgian restaurant are waffles a side order. Brasserie Beck’s brunch boasts traditional favorites like chicken and waffles with jalapeno maple syrup or Quiche Lorraine with farm egg custard, bacon lardons, petite green salad and sherry vinaigrette. And if waffles with a side of waffles is too much for you, try the caramelized Brussels sprouts with smoked bacon and poached pear. Entrees $14-28.

1101 K Street NW, 202-408-1717

Fiola Mare

Georgetown’s newest upscale seafood spot will be featuring a number of brunch specialties including their dangerously delicious morning pastry basket. Served with fresh fruit jams, chocolate hazelnut sauce and local honey this brunch starter will fill your carb quota for the month. A unique twist on eggs benedict is the uova in camicia – homemade biscuits topped with two poached eggs, smoked salmon and rosemary hollandaise. Enjoy the house Bellini to top off this brunch. Entrees $16-28.

3050 K Street NW, 202-628-0065

Teddy & The Bully Bar

Teddy’s Easter brunch is full of locally sourced foods from Pennsylvania and Maryland farms. Two courses, endless carving and omelet and stations, homemade ice cream cone bar and endless sides fill the menu. First course starts with the choice of fresh berries, a variety of flatbreads or grilled romaine salad. Feed your sweet tooth prior to dessert with a main course brioche s’more French toast with cinnamon French toast, melted chocolate and marshmallow fluff. $55 per person, 12 years and younger $21.

1200 19th St NW, 202-872-8700

Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place

Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place at Georgetown’s Washington Harbor will be serving up a live jazz brunch on Easter Sunday featuring the Red Velvet Trio and a seafood-filled spread complete with freshly shucked oysters and clams, poached salmon and a carving station for the land lovers. $35 per person or $45 with bottomless mimosas.

3000 K Street NW, 202-944-4545


Easter brunch at Malmaison will feature foods across the board from salads to savory crepes to eggs served up a variety of ways with sautéed duck fat potatoes. One of the creative brunch cocktail is the Bubbly Bun – cinnamon infused whiskey, maple syrup, champagne and flamed orange. Entrees $12.95-25.95

3401 K Street NW, 202-817-3340 [gallery ids="101693,143940,143943" nav="thumbs"]