Capitol Hill Hotel

August 10, 2012

The Capitol Hill Hotel, formerly Capitol
Hill Suites, located at 201 C Street, SE,
has recently renovated its look from a residential
style to a more contemporary one.

Slava Lutikova, director of sales and marketing
at the hotel, explained the renovations.

“We were purchased by Hersha Hospitality
last April.,” she said. “They made a decision that
the hotel needs a little bit of repositioning and
with that came renovation of all public spaces.”
But, she is quick to add, “It wasn’t because we
needed renovation, it’s because we really wanted
to create a whole new atmosphere for our guests.”

The 3.5-million-dollar renovation includes
three new meeting areas with built-in AV equipment
and teleconferencing/videoconferencing
accessibility, a rare commodity in hotels. The
newly updated front lobby and breakfast area encompass
guests in an atmosphere of relaxation.
There is also a new public lounge, connected to
the lobby, which adds an additional 650 square
feet of space for guests. The lounge (pictured
above) is complete with its own “congressional
library,” an area where guests can read one of
many books from the library or enjoy the morning
paper. It can also be rented out for business
meetings and social events.

The new look, which local artists helped create,
includes modern pieces and new twists on
classic pieces of history. The Cherry Blossominspired
carpet and wallpaper combined with
the different art pieces inspired by the nation’s
historic past come together beautifully to create a
contemporary style that remains connected to the
rich history of the nation.

“All of the elements of the design tell a story
of the history of the hotel and of the neighborhood,
while transitioning us to a more contemporary
look. We are changing our name because
we are changing the look of the hotel so much, so
drastically. Our new name reflects our new identity
better,” Lutikova said.

The Capitol Hill Hotel is now renovating
each guest room to match the contemporary style
throughout the rest of the hotel. This final phase
is expected to be complete in early 2013.

These renovations don’t mean a change in
clientele or service. “Our guests can still expect
the same quality service as before. Just because
we are a little bit different or have a new style
doesn’t mean we are moving away from any type
of customer. We position ourselves as a very inclusive
hotel as far as our audience goes. Businessmen
and families alike can enjoy our services,”
Lutikova says. ? [gallery ids="100856,126809" nav="thumbs"]

Ins & Outs 5.30.12

Mike Isabella’s Bandolero Brings Big Flavors
to M Street
Bandolero, chef Mike Isabella’s modern Mexican restaurant at 3241 M Street, opened last week. With more tacos and margaritas than you thought you wanted, Isabella’s homage to armed outlaws got uniquely flavored food, a Day-of-the-Dead motif space and servers to spare as well. With margaritas, we sampled the pumpkin seed-mixed dip served with masa crisps, pork tacos, tuna tartare taquitos, charred corn on a stick, nachos, pear-infused wine and enchilada rojo. It’s a lively place with some lively tastes: armed, perhaps; outlawed, never.

Macaron Bee Openson Wisconsin Avenue
O.K., you got your cupcakes, pies, frozen yogurt and ice cream, of course. Now, it’s sweet macaroons — or is it macarons? Oui, we had them at Dean & Deluca and at Paul Bakery. Say hello to new parents and new business owners, Han and Deborah Kim, who opened Macaron Bee at 1669 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., along the Book Hill business strip on May 19. The little shop is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Price? One macaron costs $1.75; a box of six, $10.50.

Papa-razzi Shuts Down Abruptly
“We hope this is not an inconvenience, and thank you for all the wonderful years,” the sign read on the window of Papa-razzi May 21. Text messages told the news first: the Italian restaurant next to Georgetown Park on Wisconsin Avenue at the C&O Canal has closed; doors locked; employees on the street.

Betsey Johnson Store to Close June 9
The town’s flashy, pink and fun Betsey Johnson store on M Street near the Old Stone House will close June 9. Fashion designer Betsey Johnson’s chain of stores went bankrupt April 26. Most of the 63 freestanding boutiques will close. “Johnson won’t be losing her job — but as many as 350 store workers will,” reported the New York Daily News. Women’s Wear Daily reported the designer will retain control of the Betsey Johnson clothing label.

‘More Than Just Green Space’ at Ritz, and Free Yoga
The Ritz-Carlton on South Street debuted its artistically-inspired outdoor escape, a multi-tiered Urban Garden located on two levels outside the hotel lobby. You don’t have to be a guest of The Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown to enjoy this “more than just a green space,” the company says. “The Urban Garden, with its terraced garden of paver stones, stacked stone wall, lush grass and a canopy of trees, is a venue for intimate weddings accommodating up to 90 guests, outdoor evening of dining under the stars for 60 guests and receptions of up to 90 guests.”

With activities celebrating summer holidays, such as Father’s Day and July 4th, and with a hot dog and burger bar, daily summer cooler cocktails, weekly early morning yoga, select spa services, and more, the company wants “the Urban Garden to be a hub for the Ritz-Carlton guest and the Georgetown community to gather and interact.”

Beginning Saturday, June 9, at 9 a.m., and every Saturday up to Sept. 8, complimentary outdoor yoga classes courtesy of Georgetown’s Lululemon are available to hotel guests and Georgetown neighbors. (Also available are private one-on-one fitness sessions with local trainers which can be arranged through the hotel’s boutique spa.)

Local and international designer, artist and furniture maker, Jan Marfyak has closed his shop, Uncommon Furnishings, at 1301 35th Street, N.W. Marfyak has been around D.C. for years as well as the New York and L.A. arts scene and has worked with Krupsaw’s, Antony Childs, Miller & Armey and Muleh.
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50 Years of 1789 and the Tombs, and a Party for Founder Richard McCooey

August 3, 2012

Friends of Richard McCooey who founded two Georgetown classics half a century ago —1789 Restaurant, an upscale fine dining establishment, and the Tombs, a student-oriented tavern—gathered at another joint he started, F.Scott’s, July 23—50 years to the founding day to celebrate the restaurateur and his creations.

The party was hosted by John and Ginger Laytham of the Clyde’s Restaurant Group, which owns 1789 and the Tombs, and organized by Susan Lee Mahan in short order since a good number of McCooey’s old pals were going to be in town that night. Attendees waited at F.Scott’s, while McCooey’s wife Karen, Tom Zito and others bought him into the retro dance club — much to his surprise. For a moment, the self-described introvert McCooey was speechless — and then he begin to speak and speak some more.

On hand were past and present members of the Chimes, Georgetown University’s a cappella group which holds court at the Tombs. They serenaded the honoree with two songs. Clyde’s Restaurant groupers, such as John Laytham, Tom Meyer and Sally Davidson chimed in themselves with praise for the 81-year-old restaurant designer. It was all a bit overwhelming to which McCooey, a Georgetown alumnus, simply said, “Thanks for the memories.”

Colleagues and fellow art collectors, McCooey and Laytham recalled the lunch that prompted the transfer of 1789 to Clyde’s in 1985. McCooey causally told Laytham he was thinking of selling 1789 to which Laytham shot back before the end of the sentence: “You just sold it.”

Now the owner of 1789 longer than its founder, Clyde’s has held and improved upon the McCooey dining concepts. (President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel dined at 1789 in July 2011.)

The well-wishers were a mixture of older Georgetown neighborhood, business and university friends, from Bud and Jonda McFarlane to restauranteurs Paul Cohn and Stuart Long, to Linda Greenan, a vice president of Georgetown University, and to Sherrie Westin (with the Georgetown Business Association years ago), executive vice president of Sesame Workshop in New York.

Years from running a restaurant, McCooey and his wife Karen now use their design talent and impressive art collection of posters and other artwork in their restaurant design business, Persona Studios.

Before McCooey made 1789 and the Tombs a reality, he had to convince Georgetown residents that his plan made sense for the community as well. There was opposition to his project. When The Georgetowner’s founder and publisher Ami Stewart stood up at a citizen’s meeting to back McCooey, the tide turned. McCooey never forgot Stewart’s support and towards the end of her life would regularly send waiters to her home with meals from his restaurant.

By the way, if anyone asks, why the name “1789”? That was the year the Federal government was established, Georgetown University founded and Georgetown, Md., incorporated. And “The Tombs”? Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” In it, “Bustopher Jones, The Cat About Town” likes to lunch at the tomb. (Add to that McCooey’s nickname in the Air Force: “Bustopher Cat.”) As for the now private club, F. Scott’s, it is named after author F. Scott Fitzgerald, a distant cousin of Francis Scott Key, author of “the Star-Spangled Banner.” ? [gallery ids="100917,129109,129085,129103,129092,129100" nav="thumbs"]

Refined Bathroom Decor

July 11, 2012

Waterworks is a unique, family- owned business that — since its 1978 opening in Danbury, Conn. — has been selling everything for your bathroom — in all its decadence. The Georgetown location, now in its 15th year of operation, is one of 13 stores the company operates nationwide. “We sell bath fixtures, fittings, surfaces, and kitchen sinks,” said general manager Shanda Burk. “People come in for plumbing, tiles, and rugs — but it depends on what they’re looking for.”

The store’s appeal lies in the natural light reflected from its central skylight and the various windows located around the premises. “The natural light of the store is amazing. It’s so nice to see these products in a natural space, especially when picking surfaces,” Burk said.

Many products, including bath towels, bath accessories, bathtubs, and showers, are modeled within the store, providing customers with a picturesque image of what their future bathroom may look like. “It’s a bright, inviting and clean open space that showcases a distinct collection,” she added.

Waterworks’ style, Burk said, is: “Classic European traditional with high-end finishes, qualities, and focus on details.” It’s a style appealing to high-end clients in the Georgetown area.

Burk said the style is not for renters but homeowners. “When you walk into our store you’ll see that we have a certain look. The Waterworks look. It’s very distinct and people know it.”

If you’re looking to redesign, the consultants of Waterworks can assist you. “Our consultants have 40-plus years of experience in plumbing and tile,” Burk said. “They’re a very educated and knowledgeable staff.” If you want to check out more Waterworks work, visit the store at 3314 M Street, NW, or go online at ?

Ins & OutsJuly 11, 2012

Massimo Dutti will open at 1220 Wisconsin Ave., NW, a space formerly occupied by American Eagle Outfitters. Although the date is still pending, this launch is part of the international company?s expansion into the U.S. and Canada. Offering top-notch fashions made of the finest quality materials, Massimo Duti will surely be welcomed into Georgetown with open arms. Call 202-965-5472 or contact

The Scotch & Soda Amsterdam Couture is taking over the location of Betsey Johnson?s store at 3029 M St., NW. With collections already featured at Saks Fifth Ave in Friendship Heights and Universal Gear in the Logan Circle Historic District, Scotch & Soda in Georgetown will showcase the signature style of the Amsterdam-based brand. Call 202-338-4090 or

Suitsupply at the Four Seasons Hotel at 2828 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., is currently under construction. The men?s apparel store should re-open within a month.

**ALSO OPENING SOON:** As previously reported, Fluevog Shoes, from that campy, funky Canadians, is coming to 1265 Wisconsin Avenue, next to the soon-to-open See Optical. The Jonathan Adler Store, next door at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street, is still being working on.?

Georgetown Senior Center at F. Scott’s for Fundraising and Founder, Virginia Allen

June 29, 2012

The Georgetown Senior Center, headquartered at St. John’s Episcopal Church on O Street, held a fundraiser May 9 at the legendary F. Scott’s restaurant, part of the Clydes Restaurant Group, on 36th Street. Hosted by Sally Davidson, John and Ginger Laytham and Lila and Brendan Sullivan, the happy group celebrated the center and its founder, Virginia Luce Allen, who died in 2009 and whose birthday is May 10. The center’s fundraising campaign has reached about $15,000 for its programs and services, which includes its popular lunches and lectures at St. John’s Blake Hall on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Neighbors are invited to participate, whether as cook or guest, or to assist with the center’s day trips. To donate your time or money, visit, or call 202-316-2632 [gallery ids="102451,121113,121119,121130,121124" nav="thumbs"]

The Georgetown Inn at 50 Celebrates Its History, Plans Renovation

June 18, 2012

Fifty years after the Georgetown Inn opened to the public, its new owner is planning a multi-year renovation of the 96-room property, located at 1310 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. The hotel will throw a birthday party for itself and friends on June 6.
Nayan Patel of Your DC Hotels purchased the hotel in November 2011. The upcoming renovation will be welcome news to those who remember the glory days of the Four Georges restaurant and piano bar, where pianist Mel Clement, bassist Louis Saverino and Julian Allman held forth, often accompanied by visiting artists from the Kennedy Center or National Theatre. Allman played his signature “Alley Cat” on a Stradivarius stolen from Carnegie Hall. That discovery made the front page of The New York Times when his widow followed his instructions to inspect the violin case after his demise and found the evidence.

Sheldon Magazine, president of American Mortgage Investment Company, built the Georgetown Inn, which opened May 20, 1962. Welcoming the first guest Peter Caruso, vice president and general manager Collins Bird threw the key across the driveway manned by “Tex” Aldridge in full livery and said the doors would not be locked again. After Collins retired in the early 1980s, the doors were abruptly locked during a peremptory shutdown in 1991 with Tex still at the helm. But—back to better days.
In 1968, a young Herb Miller brokered the sale to Collins Bird and several partners. The hotel offered unique luxury for its day. A Washington Dossier magazine article acclaimed, “After Blair House, the Georgetown Inn on Wisconsin Avenue is probably D.C.’s spiffiest place to go for bed and board.” The hotel was later lauded by Fortune magazine as “A Way to Escape the Washington Stockade.”

A third generation hotelier, Collins Bird intended to return to his job a general manager of three hotels in Georgia after the Georgetown Inn opened but instead stayed on for 30 years and became synonymous with the property that welcomed many notables, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Charles and Ann Morrow Lindberg, Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum, many Kennedys and the cast of the film, “The Exorcist.”

The Inn was the Washington base of the original Mercury astronauts who became personal friends. Collins had a tailor on call to add new honors to the astronauts’ uniforms, as they obligingly signed photo after photo of their exploits. It was a sad occasion when friends gathered at the Inn for an Irish wake honoring astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, who were killed in a fire during a prelaunch test of Apollo 1 in 1967.
Another frequent guest was Hubert Humphrey, who framed an enormous key from the “frozen Chosun” hotel in South Korea for “his favorite innkeeper.” Once again, Collins made certain that the former vice president’s family was pampered when they arrived for Humphrey’s funeral. The banquet room was filled with treats for all ages. In a gentler era, the Secret Service was pleased when Humphrey visited the hotel because the exits could be easily guarded.
At the height of the Dallas Cowboys and Redskins rivalry, the Inn hosted then Cowboys owner Clint Murchison and his entourage. There was always a lavish party in Potomac with an unending fleet of limousines ferrying guests from the hotel and back. Collins held a pre-game brunch replete with a bus and police escort to RFK Stadium. One year, the bus waited for a late-arriving Elizabeth Taylor.

The first time the Four Georges closed for a private party was to celebrate Playboy magazine’s “The Girls of Washington.” David Chan took a number of the photos upstairs at the Inn. Party guests included the then-infamous Fanne Foxe, who had jumped out of the car of Rep. Wilbur Mills (D-Ark.) for a dip in the Tidal Basin, and Elizabeth Ray, who famously did not take dictation from Rep. Wayne Hays (D-Ohio).

Harry “Doc” Dalinsky was a treasured fixture at his Georgetown Pharmacy at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and O Street, half a block from the hotel. He was a character, a cigar connoisseur and a confidant. The drugstore was a favored hangout of Ben Bradlee, Art Buchwald, David Brinkley and Herb Block. Collins started sending bagels and coffee to the pharmacy as people fetched their Sunday newspapers. A New York Times article on Doc’s Sunday brunch brought an overflow crowd to the consternation of the regulars.

For all its glamour quotient, the Inn was foremost favored by Georgetowners who could find a civilized haven with good food, drink and music. When you heard, “Let’s go to the Inn,” you knew it would be fun and you would see familiar faces, both locally and perhaps internationally known.
The Georgetowner often wrote about the Georgetown Inn and Collins. A sizable portion of the September, 8, 1977, issue was devoted to the lead story by Suzie Gookin, headlined “Collins Bird to Marry.” I was that lucky person. We had 23 wonderful years together. Collins had been quoted as saying that his previous two marriages had ended in divorce with both ex-wives citing his hotel as “the other woman.” The third time must have been a charm, unless you count the hotel, making me the fourth wife.
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Finding Passion in His Soles

May 17, 2012

Stepping inside the Running Company near Key Bridge in Georgetown as a runner is like stepping in to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for candy lovers. The space might be small, but the contents inside are top-of-the-line shoes and apparel to make every runner’s experience on parkland paths or marathon routes not just a success but a stylish race, right on time for spring.

Much of this can be credited to the store’s manager, Edoardo Rincon, who says he cannot imagine working anywhere else. “I’ve been doing this for almost ten years, and I don’t think I want to do anything different,” he said.

An avid trail runner while growing up in Colombia, Rincon brings personal expertise to the shop on the corner of 34th and M streets. All his wisdom comes from his passion for the sport and the time he has spent experimenting with gear from different companies.

“Find what you like to do, and you never have to work. A lot of people like to run but do something else for work but not me,” he said.

For almost ten years now, Rincon has helped communities around the globe find the right pair of shoes and articles of clothing for the sport. He also puts on races all along the East Coast, including a 5k race each December back in South America.

Once a week, the company has experienced athletes lead nightly runs around the area. “It is great for people who are new or don’t know where to run, what is safe,” he said. All paces are welcome to join in on the three- to six-mile loop on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Rincon is also a huge supporter of the non-profit, D.C. Road Runners. While proudly wearing one of its t-shirts, Rincon says that the organization offers training programs for beginners to highly skilled runners.

He hand delivers shoes to children back in Colombia twice a year and sends shoes through the mail to his home country as well as to Africa whenever he receives a phone call that someone is in need. Rincon says people are encouraged to drop off their old sneakers at the store so that they, too, can help make a difference.

“Changing people,” he said. “You know, that’s my favorite thing about working here. The people in the community and the feeling that I’m changing a lot of lives for the people here.”

“A lot of people think I own this store,” he said laughing. “I don’t.” He just simply loves what he does.

For more info on running, visit

Get the Potomac Off This List

Saturday evening we stood out at the terrace of the Kennedy Center and watched canoes and boats move serenely on the Potomac River, the spires of Georgetown University and the lights of Washington Harbor in the near distance.
It was a bucolic, beautiful scene, one which inspired admiration for the river if you were inclined to think about matters like that. One thing you weren’t thinking was that the Potomac–the “Nation’s River”–was in serious trouble.

But according to American Rivers, a non-profit organization that helps protect America’s rivers and which yearly lists and issues a report on the country’s ten most endangered rivers, the Potomac River is the Most Endangered River for 2012. The causes: urban and agricultural pollution.

It’s not that the river hasn’t been maintained properly or that the Potomac isn’t cleaner than it was before. It’s because it’s the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, which may be in danger of having Congress roll back critical water safeguards. American Rivers is of course a group, as its president, Bob Irvin, said, that will try to “get decision-makers do the right thing”, which would be to preserve all possible safeguards.

We concur. The Potomac, our river here in Washington, and the nation’s river, will keep right on rolling. It needs to do that without being in danger of more pollution. Let’s get the Potomac off the Most Endangered List

Ins & Outs 5.16.12

It is official: Bandolero, the long-anticipated restaurant at 3241 M Street, where Hook once stood, will open May 24, proclaims its website. And it adds, “Bandolero is a modern Mexican restaurant in the heart of Georgetown. Chef Mike Isabella is the chef/partner behind the taco-centric, margarita-laden menu. Bandolero is owned by Pure Hospitality LLC, including veteran restauranteur, Jonathan Umbel. The two-story, 5,000-square-foot, high-energy space reflects a Day of the Dead motif, and plenty of bar space to imbibe. The menu showcases classic Mexican dishes with untraditional flavor profiles, including dips served with housemade chicharones and masa crisps, tacos, taquitos, enchiladas, empanadas, albondigas and carbons.”

Just up Wisconsin Avenue, the contemporary furniture store Ligne Roset has re-opened in a shiny, hip locale, close to Whole Foods and Vice President Joe Biden’s back gate. The French company held a May 3 grand opening reception, which was headlined by its own executive vice president, Antoine Roset, of Roset USA Corp. at the new retail showroom at 2201 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., along with new business partners in designers David Zein and Olivier Valette. DZein Studio is along the same ground-level space as well. The exclusive, freestanding Ligne Roset showroom features items from the company’s extensive catalog. One thing is for sure: architect Christy Schlesinger wants that red sofa.

Peacock Café and Fashiontographer will hold a one-night-only dinner event, May 23, featuring entrées from the “Mad Men” era to benefit the Shoot for Change Scholarship at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. The theme for the event is 1950s, 1960s or “Mad Men” inspired. For $60, Peacock Café and chef Maziar Farivar will offer a three-course menu, inspired by the “Mad Men” era, that includes Oysters Rockefeller, classic Beef Wellington and homemade cannoli. Fashiontographer’s executive editor, Walter Grio, will be taking photos of guests for the online fashion editorial, “District of Fashion.” Photos will be featured on The after party will be at L2.

According to Hyperlocal Glover Park: The new owners of JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) intend to return nude dancing to the club’s long-vacant former home. Paul Kadlick, a representative of the ownership group, discussed the group’s plans at the May meeting of ANC 3B. JP’s operated as a strip club from 1986 through January 2008, when a fire destroyed its original building. In the intervening years, the building has been replaced and the business sold. A group of neighbors and the ANC opposed the dormant club’s liquor license renewal last year. Though the license was renewed, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board did impose new limits on the club in the process, forbidding it from offering live entertainment before 5 p.m. [gallery ids="100795,124379" nav="thumbs"]