The Latest Dish 9-14

September 19, 2016

Chef/GM/Somm Update: Matt Smith is the executive chef at Brickside in Bethesda. Previously, he worked at Batali and Bastianich’s acclaimed Carnevino in Las Vegas, then was executive chef at Salt […]

The Latest Dish 9-14

September 14, 2016

Chef/GM/Somm Update: Matt Smith is the executive chef at Brickside in Bethesda. Previously, he worked at Batali and …

The Latest Dish 9-14

Chef/GM/Somm Update: Matt Smith is the executive chef at Brickside in Bethesda. Previously, he worked at Batali and …

The Latest Dish

June 22, 2016

Michael Schlow continues to build his restaurant empire in D.C. He will open Casolare in the newly renovated Glover …

Restaurant Dreams and Real Estate

March 30, 2016

We’re dreaming of new restaurants in Georgetown, perhaps created by chef stars like José Andrés, Carla Hall, Eric Ripert, Bryan Voltaggio or Alice Waters — and all those others shown on this issue’s cover. And more. It just might be the right time, as Georgetown is getting another look.

That may be, in part, due to the imminent end of Georgetown’s long-standing liquor license moratorium, but it’s also because of developers, investors and promoters. While it may seem that there are few spots left in the old town, there are intriguing vacant spaces to consider — and some that will be created as part of new projects, such as Prospect Place and the EastBanc condos across from the Four Seasons. Indeed, the cover depicts the vacant 1200 Wisconsin Ave. NW building, which housed a Benetton store for decades (and before that the National Bank of Washington).

It will take creativity and determination; the rent is too darn high. Retail is cheaper to operate — but Georgetown needs restaurants to generate foot traffic and stimulate the local economy.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 10 percent of the U.S. workforce is part of the restaurant industry and almost half the American food dollar is spent on dining out (annual sales: $709.2 billion).
It’s time to get moving.

Wanted: Landlords With Vision

What will bring our dream restaurants into the heart of Georgetown? A young Sen. John F. Kennedy may have proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier at Martin’s Tavern, which is thankfully still here. But where will Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore dine when he’s in town to host the White House Correspondents’ Dinner?

When visitors arrive in Washington, D.C., the one place they all want to visit is our charming, storied village. Not only to bump into a cabinet secretary or a senator, but to dine in elegance at classics like 1789 or the newest addition to the waterfront, Fiola Mare.
With the April 9 end of the Georgetown moratorium on liquor licenses, that bar (no pun intended) must continue to rise.

What will it take to bring hot new restaurateurs to Georgetown? It’s not just about the end of the moratorium, says legendary restaurant broker Tom Papadopoulos, who knows the D.C. restaurant scene like few others. High rents and low office density are also part of what makes Georgetown challenging.

Papadopoulos has been strategically placing restaurants in the D.C. market for years. “Georgetown needs more hip places like El Centro, the Richard Sandoval joint venture restaurant,” he says.

But how to attract the notable chefs who are opening elsewhere in D.C.?

“It would take a lucrative deal to attract a big name restaurateur,” advises Papadopoulos, who believes a landlord with vision who makes a significant monetary contribution — as MRP Realty did for Fiola Mare — is what helped chef Fabio Trabocchi open here. A landlord less concerned with getting top dollar for a retail deal is what will ultimately attract millennial-focused restaurants to Georgetown, he believes.

Landlords can charge higher rent for retail than they can for restaurants. Ideally, restaurants should pay $40 to $60 per square foot,” says Philippe Lanier of EastBanc. Rents in Georgetown can be double that. Even on restaurant-saturated 14th Street NW, the rents have been in the $70 to $90 range.

Lanier noted that chefs outside the D.C. region who had been looking at 14th Street and other upcoming districts are now checking out Georgetown.

It’s all about making accommodations. Restaurants attract the foot traffic that retail needs to be successful. Lanier noted that Philadelphia restaurateurs are checking out Georgetown again. Stephen Starr has already landed in D.C. with the very successful Le Diplomate on 14th Street. If he has his sights on Georgetown, the deal has to be that good.

EastBanc owns the former gas station space across from the Four Seasons Hotel. Lanier says that plans may call for a restaurant there in addition to the office space (think lunch business) and retail. Lunch business is possible, based on price point and tailoring a menu to complement the clientele that works and visits Georgetown during the day.

“The only restaurant that could afford the rent at $150 per square foot at the corner of Wisconsin and M Streets is the Cheesecake Factory,” says Papadopoulos.

There is another option, according to Papadopoulos. “The ultimate way to control costs now is to own the building, as rent prices are out of range for most restaurateurs,” he points out. Unless, that is, they find a visionary landlord.

NREB recently sent out an email offering rent of $185 per square foot at 1249 Wisconsin Ave. NW. That is the asking price, not the getting price. But that is where the rent ask has escalated.

The Latham Hotel at 3000 M St. NW has been closed for years with a change of ownership. Will New York-based Thor Equities get a high-profile New York chef to open where Michel Richard’s Citronelle was? Rumor has it that Thor is looking for fashion retail, but what about a restaurant that fits its targeted demographics? That too would rely on landlord accommodations, as rent there could start at $120 per square foot.

On Wisconsin Avenue at P Street, Marvelous Market has been closed since May 2014. What if Carla Hall — “Top Chef” contender and now a host of ABC’s “The Chew” — opened a Southern-style kitchen serving highlights from her cookbooks, “Cooking With Love,” “Carla’s Comfort Foods” and “Comfort Foods From Around the World”? Hall could invite guest chefs to cook some of those dishes with her for special dinners. But only if she has a landlord with vision.

The rumor is that &pizza is taking over the Five Guys spot at the corner of Wisconsin and Dumbarton, which could have rent close to $100 per square foot. That is significant for a fast-casual pizza chain, but only a chain could support that rent.

High rents and lack of office density to support lunch business are not the only issues for restaurants in Georgetown. The space that used to be Houston’s and Rugby is owned by a number of trusts. That makes it complicated to negotiate a restaurant deal.
Then there is 3220 Prospect St. NW, Doggett’s Parking. It’s a McCaffery space with EastBanc. Rory Cameron of McCaffery says they still need to identify the big tenant. Although they envision it as retail project, there may be room for a casual restaurant concept. No one has been approached yet. A parking lot will be incorporated into the project (so don’t worry that Georgetown is losing any more paid, covered parking spaces).

Papadopoulos sees how food halls have done well in New York City, and plans to make more visits to see how that can translate to D.C. Food halls put chefs and operators together, he believes, and it won’t be long before we see that in the District. Georgetown does have potential spaces that are big — see the aforementioned 3220 Prospect Street, as well as Restoration Hardware, also now in McCaffery’s portfolio.

But with high rents, that may not happen. Enter the visionary landlord — and an open-arms approach by the neighborhood to welcome the restaurants of our dreams. [gallery ids="102243,129365" nav="thumbs"]

The Latest Dish March 23, 2016

March 24, 2016

Beefsteak, José Andrés’s vegetarian concept, is slated to open in Bethesda’s Westfield Montgomery Mall’s Dining Terrace (formerly the food court) where Qdoba was this summer. This will be in addition to the Foggy Bottom (GWU campus) and Dupont Circle locations and the new ones slated for Tenleytown and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia this spring.

MGM National Harbor Casino has signed deals to open restaurants by José Andrés, Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, and Marcus Samuelsson. The entire project’s grand opening is slated for the third or fourth quarter of 2016. Jose’s restaurant will be focused on locally-sourced seafood; Marcus’s restaurant will pull from his varied cultural roots (Ethiopian, Swedish, American); “Top Chef” alums, and brothers, Bryan Voltaggio (Volt, Range, Aggio, Family Meal) and Michael Voltaggio (ink. and ink.sac in Los Angeles) will team up for the first time on a steakhouse concept.

What’s up in Georgetown? & pizza is taking over where Five Guys was on Wisconsin Avenue at Dumbarton St … Geoff Dawson (Bedrock Billiards, Penn Social) signed a lease with Jamestown LP for Georgetown Park mall, on the Wisconsin Avenue side where Pinstripes also rolls. He is also opening in Douglas Development Corp.’s Hecht Warehouse District in Ivy City. Quick Hits: Potomac Village Deli lives again. Owners Adam Greenberg and Sam Lerner plan to reopen in the Kentlands, in Gaithersburg in the second quarter, where Potomac Pizza on Center Point Way is (also owned by Adam). Neighborhood Restaurant Group plans to bring back an oldie but goodie when it opens EatBar on Barracks Row, where Kraze Burgers was. Philadelphia-based HipCityVeg opens where FroZen Yo was at 712 Seventh St. NW. It’s a 100-percent vegan restaurant concept. La Jambe, a French wine bar, charcuterie and fromagerie, is now slated to open in Shaw in May. Eric Hilton partnered with Andrew Evans and opened his BBQ Joint in the 14th Street Corridor where Hilton’s Den of Thieves … Chef Nick Sharpe plans to open Jolene in Adams Morgan, since his pop-ups were so well received. Nick has worked at Ba Bay and After Peacock Room and is targeting a second quarter opening. Bareburger is slated to open where Cosi was in Dupont Circle at 1647 20th St. NW.

The folks who brought you DGS Delicatessen plan to open a seafood concept, Whaley’s, at the Lumber Shed building in the Yards development at Navy Yard this spring. It is named for local Revolutionary War Navy hero, Zedechiah Whaley.

GM & Chef Update: Nicholas Flores is the chef de cuisine at the recently opened Hank’s Pasta Bar in Old Town Alexandria, where Villa d’Este used to be. Nicholas was previously at Dupont Circle’s Al Tiramisu … Fidencio Rubio is now director of the beverage program — cocktails as well as its 100-plus label wine list — at Osteria Morini. He was previously with Passion Food Hospitality, Fiola and Casa Luca. Steven Benincasa is the new chef at Argia’s, an Italian restaurant in Falls Church. He was previously at Filomena and Paolo’s, both in Georgetown. Jeff Faile is the new beverage director for Aaron Silverman’s Pineapple & Pearls as well as for Rose’s Luxury. He was previously bar and spirits director at Neighborhood Restaurant Group … Sam Molavi is back at Ripple as chef de cuisine; he had been sous chef before he took a position at Compass Rose.

Changes: Andy Shallal’s Eatonville on 14th Street NW is now Mulebone, a Southern-American restaurant with a higher profile bar scene. The chef (who won Andy’s contest) is D.C. native Joseph Paire, who previously worked at Todd Gray’s Watershed and Farmers Fishers Bakers. He describes Mulebone as an American restaurant with Southern influences. After a two-year hiatus, chef-owners Aulie Bunyarataphan and Mel Oursinsiri, have returned Bangkok Joe’s to its original location at Washington Harbour — including the popular Dumpling Bar. It’s back after an interim as Mama Rouge.

Linda Roth is president of Linda Roth Associates, a public relations and marketing firm that specializes in the hospitality industry, providing creative connections through media relations, marketing initiatives, community outreach and special events. Reach her at

The Latest Dish November 18, 2015

November 19, 2015

The dining terrace at Westfield Montgomery Mall continues to diversify, with Asian cuisines for its next two restaurants.

B/BOP/Q Korean Fusion Eatery derives from the traditional Korean bibimbop, but with wraps, tacos and bowls (a la Chipotle and ShopHouse). This will be its first location in the U.S., with Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Honolulu also in the works. It will open across from Shanghai 66 Innovation Kitchen on the second level. Both are slated for late 2015 openings.

C-C-Changes: After completing its renovation, BlackSalt in Palisades reopened to a neighborhood eagerly awaiting its return. The bar area now has booths and art that pops … The Source recently reopened its door after extensive renovation that included both the main level lounge and upper level dining room, and a custom designed hot pot table for four … Ella’s Wood Fired Pizza, at 610 9th St. NW in Penn Quarter, has also recently renovated its look (by Green Owl Design) and its menu.

Chef and GM Update: Jason Richter has been named general manager of Restaurant Associates at the Kennedy Center, overseeing the Roof Terrace Restaurant and KC Café as well as the foodservice operation for banquets. This is the organization that serves dinner for 1,800 for the Kennedy Center Honors. Previously, he was director of hotel operations for the Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. … Ryan Ratino is the new chef de cuisine at Masa 14, at 1825 14th St. NW. The Le Corden Bleu graduate served as executive chef at L’Auberge Provencale in White Post, Virginia.

Internationally recognized Japanese restaurant Nobu is slated to open just two blocks east of Georgetown on M Street in D.C.’s burgeoning West End, on the ground floor of the former American Association of Medical Colleges building, which will be converted to luxury condominiums. … Upstate Tavern is planning to open in 16th Street Heights at 4610-12 14th St. NW.

Openings Update: Union Social opened Oct. 23 in NoMa … American Tandoor at Tysons Corner Center opens Oct. 30 … Matchbox at One Loudoun opens Nov. 16 … Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant opens in mid-December, where Macaroni Grill on Prince William Parkway in Woodbridge (Potomac Mills) used to be. It will be their third location in the D.C. metro area … Dave & Buster’s eat/drink/play restaurant/bar/arcade opens Dec. 21 at Springfield Town Center … Milk Bar and Momofuku opened on Oct. 23 at CityCenter D.C. … Not Your Average Joe’s plans to open in Reston Town Center by the end of December and in Silver Spring by the end of the first quarter of 2016 … The Dabney is anticipating a late November opening. Ivy City Smokehouse, from Greg Casten and Ronnie Goodman, is aiming to open by December.

The Latest Dish: June 3, 2015

June 22, 2015

From those wonderful folks who brought you Ripple and Roofers Union comes Jug & Table. Drawing on the best of both, it expounds on Ripple’s mission of making quality wine approachable while offering Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s new menu. That menu includes lux snacks served in très chic jars, as well as an international array of grilled cheese sandwiches, created upstairs in the beer-centric Roofers Union kitchen. This new addition to Adams Morgan (across the street from my new office) offers 20 wines by the glass as well as sharable jug options. Sommelier Theo Rutherford started as Ripple’s sommelier before going on to helm wine programs at Rogue 24, Fiola and Café Dupont. Now he’s back.

Chef Update: Executive chef Brian Sonoskus takes the reins at Tupelo Honey Café, slated to open in the Clarendon/Courthouse section of Arlington as this issue goes to press. Tyler Alford will be chief mixologist at this Southern-food inspired restaurant, which showcases craft sparkling sangria and 23 craft beers. Lisa Odom has been tapped as executive chef at Succotash, slated to open mid-summer at National Harbor. She hails from Miami, where she worked at Oolite Restaurant & Bar and Tongue & Cheek. There is an additional connection to Succotash culinary director Edward Lee, of Louisville, Kentucky: they are both Korean Americans who developed their culinary reputations in the South.

Cathal Armstrong will open One Loudoun in early 2016, next to Uncle Julio’s and across from Matchbox in the central artery of the project’s downtown section. Concept TBD.

Nick Stefanelli, formerly of Bibiana](, plans to open Masseria in the Union Market district. The name derives from a farm in Italy’s Puglia region. Slated to open this summer, it will seat 60 in a setting evocative of an Italian country estate. His team includes David Kurka, general manager and advanced sommelier, formerly of Brabo and CityZen; and Julien-Pierre Bourgon, head bartender of cocktail lounge PX.

DC-based [Matchbox Food Group]( announced plans to open three more locations in Northern Virginia in the next year — in Pentagon City in Arlington, Potomac Mills in Woodbridge and One Loudoun in Ashburn. The company used a “friends and family” fundraising model to start off, but will soon offer opportunities to accredited investors.

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill](, which features Texas-style brisket, St. Louis smoked ribs and Carolina pulled pork, plans to open in Springfield Town Center in Virginia on June 8. This will be the California-based chain’s 16th location and the first outside of the Sunshine State. The company plans to eventually open 25 East Coast locations, including several in the D.C. area.

The [RAMMYs]( were born one year before David Letterman began “The Late Show.” The 33rd annual RAMMY Awards Gala takes place Sunday, June 7, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Pavilion sponsors include the Embassy of Argentina, with Argentine chef Diego Biondi; Wines of Chile; Foods from Chile; Meat and Livestock Australia; and the Embassy of Peru, which will have a full pisco bar.

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

Latest Dish: November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014

Hakan Ilhan plans to open L’Hommage Bistro Francais at the m.flats apartment building at 450 K Street NW. The restaurateur also owns Al Dente near Tenleytown on New Mexico Ave. NW and Alba Osteria in NoMa at 425 Eye St. NW, as well as Bistro Atelier, a French restaurant at Dulles International Airport. He first entered the restaurant scene with his Pizza Autentica pizzerias. This new French restaurant in the Mount Vernon Triangle area includes a full-service bistro with a bakery and quick serve café. Private dining space is also available in the 220-seat restaurant.

José Andrés plans to expand his relationship with George Washington University beyond teaching, lecturing and giving commencement addresses. The next step is a restaurant (shocker), a fast casual concept called Beefsteak, which focuses on vegetables. Yes, the name appears to be incongruous with vegetables, but José is not your typical restaurateur. It will be located at 22nd and Eye streets NW on campus, in the new science and engineering building.

Claudia Rivas, who is a chef/owner of Brasas Rotisserie & Grill in Waldorf, plans to open Claudia’s Steakhouse in downtown D.C. at 1501 K St. NW this spring with new business partner Charles Adams. Think steaks and – closer to her roots – ceviche. It will seat 288 with private dining rooms for up to 100 people.

UK-based Carluccio’s plans to open their first US outpost in Old Town Alexandria at 100 King St. (the site of many fine restaurants). They also plan to open at the new Southwest Waterfront project. Although the restaurant hails from the UK, the founder Antonio Carluccio is from Salerno in the southern part of Italy.

Chef & GM Update: Wil Goings has been named executive chef at Tadich Grill, slated to open in January 2015 at 10th and Pennsylvania Ave NW. Wil was Executive Director of Food and Beverage at Chef Geoff’s and LIA’s restaurant. Ron Robbins, formerly of San Francisco’s Blvd and Clyde’s Tower Oak Lodge, has been named general manager.
Openings Update: Mango Tree, the Thailand-based restaurant with locations in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, Jakarta and Manila is slated to open this month at CityCenter thanks to Pitaya Phanphensophon and Richard Sandoval

ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen plans to open its next metro area location at Union Station where Yo! Sushi used to be. Sakuramen owner Jonathan Cho plans to open a new Pan-Asian restaurant in Adams Morgan where Cafe Lautrec and Cafe Toulouse used to be at 2431 18th St. NW. He also plans to expand Sakuramen, opening up a new level, which should be completed by end of Q2 2015.

Carla Hall has licensed her name to a new southern-inspired 150-seat restaurant to open at Reagan National Airport in Terminal A, operated by OTG, which operates other restaurants at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority properties. The restaurant name is Page, but it is unclear whether the reference is to Carla or the airport. Future plans call for a Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen in New York in 2015 as well as in DC in 2017.

Just Opened: Adams Morgan’s Amsterdam Falafelshop opened in Clarendon on Wilson Blvd. Other locations on the horizon include Georgetown, downtown D.C., Bethesda and Silver Spring. Willie’s Brew & Que has finally opened in the Boilermaker Shops near Nationals Park. Washington Firehouse has opened at North Capitol Street & Quincy Place NW, from the folks who brought you Shaw’s Tavern. Chef Peter Prime from Shaw’s created the menu. Cava Grill opened its sixth location in Chinatown at 707 H St. NW. Highline is opening at 2010 Crystal Drive in Crystal City by the folks who also own and operate Penn Social, CarPool and Buffalo Billiards.