Washington Harbor restaurants are slowly recovering. Sequoia, which was situated above the other restaurants and above flood level, is open. Tony & Joe’s and Nick’s Riverside Grill opened their patios only, grilling outdoors when the weather allows. Cabanas and Farmers & Fishers are still closed. Rumor has it that Michel Richard was planning to open a small restaurant at Washington Harbor before the flood happened. By spring 2012, there may be new entertainment aspects of Washington Harbor to appeal to those who love to dine and enjoy the river view. Award-winning chef Jose Andres has developed another partnership, this time on the federal level. He is making a bold new move – changing Café Atlantico in Penn Quarter into American Eats Tavern from June 10 through Jan. 3, 2012 to complement the nearby U.S. National Archives upcoming exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet.” The first floor will offer more casual fare like hot dogs and cheesesteak (a signature item) and the second floor will be more formal, offering U.S. regional favorites. But one thing will not change. Jose plans to keep the six-seat mini bar operating during this time. Chef & GM Update: Christopher Jakubiec was promoted to executive chef of Plume Restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel in downtown DC. He has been with the hotel since 2009, and previously worked at Quarter Kitchen in San Diego’s The Ivy Hotel and New York’s Ono restaurant. James Turner is the chef at Blue 44 on upper Connecticut Ave., NW, owned by Chris Nardelli, formerly of Café Ole in NW DC. Turner was formerly sous chef at Persimmon in Bethesda. Eddie Ishaq was named exec chef at Wildfire restaurant in Tysons Corner, owned by Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You . He has worked at other Wildfire restaurants in Illinois. Dave Dilullo is the new general manager at Morton’s, The Steakhouse in Georgetown. He was previously with Ruth’s Chris. Jacques Haeringer followed his dream and has finally opened Jacques’ Brasserie below the more formal and legendary L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls. This more casual 30-seat dining room and lounge is a bit more affordable for friends and neighbors who can stop by more often. Shenandoah American Grill, a southern-influenced bar and restaurant, will open in Restaurant Park in Ashburn, VA, where Otani, a Japanese steakhouse, used to be. It will offer American cuisine with a southern influence, and some recipes come from the kitchens of the partners and their grandmothers. This includes Krispy Kreme bread pudding – good, home-style southern cooking. Co-owners Sean Lakos and Lance Smith worked for Carrabba’s Italian Grill and P.F. Chang’s. The rather large restaurant will include a cigar bar (can you still do that?) complemented by a selection of 30+ scotches. It seats up to 350, including its patio space. Warren Thompson of Thompson Hospitality (TH) is in expediting mode. In addition to his new gourmet burger concept, BRB Burger, he plans to roll out a BRB Burger food truck. He plans to open an American Tap Room in Clarendon this July as the brand’s new flagship store in the space on Wilson Blvd, where Sette Bello used to be. He expanded the name of Austin Grill (now there are six) to Austin Grill & Tequila Bar, introducing a beverage-oriented menu and refined tequila selection. And, this fall, the first free-standing Austin Grill Express fast-casual restaurant will open in College Park. James Sullivan Sr., who started Clover Investment Group with sons James Jr. and Brian, has gotten deeper into the business by buying Café Deluxe and Tortilla Coast. The group bought Cafe Deluxe’s three existing locations, and the Tex-Mex Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill, from founders Bo Marcus and John Breen. Clover will open a Tortilla Coast this fall on P St. NW, where McCormick Paints used to be. They plan to open a Cafe Deluxe in Gaithersburg’s Rio at Washington Center where Hamburger Hamlet used to be. They are also the creators of Tynan Coffee & Tea, with locations in Columbia Heights, Friendship Heights and Constitution Square. They expect to open additional locations in D.C. and Arlington. Quick Hits Mid-Town Café in Georgetown changed its name to Book Hill Café. Same owner; new chef. William Jeffrey’s Tavern is planning to open later this year at Siena Park on Columbia Pike in Arlington. It’s operated by Wilson Witney, Adam Lubar and Chris Lefbom of Rhodeside Tavern, Ragtime and Dogwood Tavern. Willy Koutroumpis, owner of Wild Willy’s Rock House & Sports Saloon in Annapolis, will open Kava in Annapolis. Former Washington Bullet (from its only championship season) Kevin Grevey plans to open a FroZen Yo at 1900 M St., NW with FroZenYo founder and friend. Kevin also owns Grevey’s Restaurant & Sports Bar in Falls Church. TruOrleans, named for Louisiana native Tru Redding, is slated to open at 400 H St. NE in Atlas District. The executive chef is Andre Miller, previously at Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The Crystal City Marriott’s $6 million in renovations includes a new restaurant named BELL20 for its Bell and 20th streets location. It is an American tavern with more than 30 beers. It replaces CC Bistro. Bobby Flay signed to open Bobby’s Burger Palace in September at The Varsity, a luxury student housing complex near the University of Maryland, College Park. The Varsity will also house a ChiDogO and an Austin Grill Express in the care of Papadopoulos Properties. Jesse Yan and business partner Vanessa Lim bought a building on 8th St., SE on burgeoning Barrack’s Row, planning to open a Mediterranean restaurant on the first floor and Spices on the second floor. Jesse owns Spices and Nooshi. John Kent Cooke has chosen fine wine over football. The former Redskins’ owner’s son, along with Sean Martin, has opened The Tasting Room at National Harbor, their fourth in the region. The premium red wines are from Boxwood Estate, which he also owns. John got into wine while living in California in the early ‘70s when his father, Jack Kent Cooke, owned the LA Lakers and Kings. When John bought the Boxwood Farm in 2001, he entered the wine business. Boxwood has a customized GPS system to monitor viticultural practices and a computer that can control the temperature of fermentation tanks. The winery produces only 3,000 cases a year and sells its three varieties at The Tasting Rooms in Chevy Chase, Reston, Middleburg, and National Harbor. All wine bars feature the Enoround, which can do a perfect one, three or five ounce pour for tastings, using a card insertion system. Restaurateurs are gearing up for their annual Oscars of the DC restaurant scene: the RAMMY Awards. Some of the awards are voted on by the public, such as Power Spot, Hottest Bar Scene, Neighborhood Gathering Place, and a city-wide balloting campaign for Favorite Restaurant. Those Favorite Restaurant finalists are: matchbox (Penn Quarter), Ted’s Bulletin (Barracks Row DC), Chef Geoff’s (Tysons Corner), Carmine’s (Penn Quarter), and Lima Restaurant (Downtown). Although I am not proficient at “handicapping” this race, since matchbox and Ted’s Bulletin are owned by the same folks, they appear to be frontrunners. Of the restaurants up for Best New Restaurant, Ris is has been open the longest – a year and a half – as it missed the deadline last year by a week, so Ris has had more time to build loyal guests. Todd Gray has been serving fine food in DC longer than any of the Chef of the Year nominees, so Advantage: Todd. Winners will be announced at the gala on June 26 at the Marriott Wardman Park. The awards gala is produced by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. The annual black tie gala has a Carnevale theme, so masks are optional. I’ve already got mine.
From Steve Ells and the folks that brought you the amazingly successful QSR idol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, comes a new concept in the same QSR style. It’s called Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen (a mouthful in more ways than one) and will open its first store—a test market store—in Dupont Circle on Connecticut Ave., NW near the north Metro stop. The Asian-themed concept is slated to open this summer, but the Ells’ tweaking process is known to take time. No plans to expand beyond the first store yet. New York City’s Luke’s Lobster, the lobster shack-themed restaurant concept founded by Georgetown grad Luke Holden, is scouting Penn Quarter for its first store in DC. Holden gets his seafood bearings from his father Jeffrey, who owns Portland Shellfish and is one of the owners of Luke’s. Other owners include Luke’s brother, Bryan, who lives here in Washington, and Luke’s friends Scott Bullard and Ben Conniff. A summer opening is planned. Mid-Town Café opened on Wisconsin Avenue near Q St., next door to ILO Salon, and changed its name to Book Hill Café (for obvious reasons). The chef operator is Matthew Mohler, who has worked at Adour at the St Regis Hotel and J&G Steakhouse at the W Hotel. So American fare will highlight the menu. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are on the menu, as is an outdoor patio. Quick Hits: It appears that Orlando-based Seasons 52 loves this area enough to sign a deal to open a second location, this one in Tysons Corner Center. Their first in the region opens in across from White Flint Mall in Bethesda. Yet another summer opening is planned. Salt & Pepper, by Chefs Nathan & Lindsey Auchter, joined by Robert Golfman and Suechen Chen (formerly of Bambu) will open where Kemble Park Tavern used to be in DC’s Palisades. Another burger place opening this summer: Korean-based concept Kraze Burger is slated to open on Bethesda’s Elm Street. Expansion is expected to continue in North Bethesda, and Dulles and Georgetown will follow. They will also offer tofu and veggie burgers as well as salads. Speaking of BGR, the chain plans to open a Clarendon restaurant at the corner of N. Highland Street and Wilson Boulevard. That would be the sixth BGR in the area. They have another Arlington location on Lee Highway in Clarendon). Ivan Iricanin’s new taqueria, El Centro D.F., serves authentic Mexican food near his partners’ other restaurant, Masa 14. His partners are Kaz Okochi and Richard Sandoval. El Centro D.F. will occupy three floors in the 14th Street, NW building. Dinner and lounge on the lower level with the traditional taqueria on the first floor. Rooftop bar upstairs. Can’t wait for those warm summer evenings. Richmond-based Café Caturra, a coffee house and wine bar, also plans to open in Arlington on S Glebe Road this summer—coffee during the day, wine in the evening. An outdoor patio is also part of the plan for the summer opening. Café Caturra was founded by musician turned restaurateur Jeff Grant. Chef Update: Former Westend Bistro sous-chef Adam Barnett will be head chef at Eventide. He previously worked at another restaurant in the group, Liberty Tavern, as well as the Inn at Little Washington. Openings Update: Ping Pong Dim Sum’s Dupont Circle location plans to open in early August, for the time being. Pinkberry, which just opened on Connecticut Avenue near M Street, plans to open (in no particular order) in Leesburg, Clarendon, National Harbor and Georgetown. On The Calendar: Zoofari at the National Zoo – Thursday, May 19; Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town at National Building Museum (still a few slots open) – Friday, May 20; RAMMY Awards at Marriot Wardman Park (Carnevale theme) – Sunday, June 26. 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 Linda@LindaRothPR.com or visit her web site at LindaRothPR.com.
Theater was always a part of Jose Andres’ aura. Now he has a presence at the newly renovated Arena Stage on DC’s southwest waterfront. Next Stage by José Andrés offers eclectic soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees, some even themed to currently running shows. The café is located on a balcony facing Arena Stage’s glass-fronted entrance. More lobster: Michael Landrum, owner/operator of RAY’S THE STEAKS and assorted other Ray’s-themed restaurants, will open The Lobster Pot, a seafood restaurant at 1650 Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn. From the folks who brought you Grapeseed in Bethesda, comes a new lobster concept called FREDDIE’S LOBSTER. Lobster is not as expensive as it used to be, which may account for the new lobster outlets, from trucks to carryout. This is one white meat you cannot say tastes like chicken. The BRICKSKELLER is planning a facelift and has changed its name to BIER BARON. Don’t worry, they will still serve more beers (1200) than any other place in town, as it always has. New owners Megan Merrifield and her husband are operators. They also own Windsor Inn, Embassy Inn and District Hotel. The reopening is planned for the early part of the new year. THE ROOKERY, owned by Bo Blair, has re-opened as BAYOU, a New Orleans-style restaurant at 2519 Pennsylvania Ave., NW with Chef Rusty Holman at the helm. Look for New Orleans favorites -- Po Boys, gumbo, shrimp and grits and live jazz during dinner. Chef and Executive Update - MATCHBOX Chinatown has named Cliff Wharton as executive chef. Wharton once a striving rock star, joins matchbox from Ten Penh, where he became a culinary star. Tom Meyer has been named president of CLYDE’S RESTAURANT GROUP. Tom had been executive vice president for CRG since 2002. Natalie Vella has been named general manager of RIS, a promotion from her position as assistant GM. Ramón Narváez is returning to Robert Wiedmaier’s restaurant empire (Brasserie Beck, Brabo, Mussel Bar by RW, Marcel’s) as wine and beverage director. Starting at Marcel’s in 2002, he left in 2008 to become the sommelier at Adour located at the St. Regis Hotel. STELLA RESTAURANT is coming to the Traville Shopping Center in North Potomac where The Vyne Restaurant was, this month. Owners and brothers George and Stratton Liapis have owned and operated The Lunch Box Carry-Out Shoppes in downtown D.C. and Bullfeather’s of Capital Hill. Ray Niederhausen, a graduate of Stratford University, will be the executive chef. Stella will offer steakhouse steaks, chops, organic chicken, as well as full bar service, including a diverse wine list featuring wines from California, Italy, France, Argentina and Greece. TERASOL, a French bistro with an artistic mix of food and artwork, has newly reopened at 5010 Connecticut Ave, NW after a nearly two-year hiatus. Owners Sabrina Ousmaal and Alan Moin offer a 400-square-foot art gallery with art, jewelry and pottery for sale, and a 1350-square-foot restaurant serving French cuisine. SALT & PEPPER, a new breakfast spot, is slated to open in the Palisades neighborhood on the second floor of 5101 MacArthur Blvd, NW, above Bambu. Owners Sue Chen and Robert Golfman call it a modern twist on diner classics. They also plan to offer alcoholic beverages in addition to the diner menu. Yes, it’s true. KEMBLE PARK TAVERN has closed. 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 or visit her web site at www.lindarothpr.com
David Guas will launch his much anticipated bakery, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery, in November in the Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington. This homey, deep south, 70-seat café will offer plenty of Louisiana favorites from the New Orleans native. Delights include muffalettas, boudin, andouille sausage, jambalaya, porKorn, beignets, chicory coffee, pralines, cakes, pies, and puddings. There will be lots of Counter Culture coffee to complement the savory and sweet all-day menu. SWEET CHEF UPDATE: Peter Brett has been named pastry chef for both the Park Hyatt Washington and its restaurant, Blue Duck Tavern. Brett is a graduate of Boston University’s graphic design program and L’Academie de Cuisine’s pastry arts program, where he studied under former White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier. Quite impressively, one of his wedding cakes is also featured on the United States Postal Service wedding stamp. SAVORY CHEF UPDATE: Jason Brumm has been tapped to be the chef at P.J. Clarke’s, at 16th & K Streets, NW. He was previously at Radius 10 in Nashville. DC Central Kitchen and its for-profit arm, Fresh Start Catering, have hired some well-known chefs to run their programs. David Strong has been named culinary director of Fresh Start. He was formerly executive chef with Haute Cuisine on Capitol Hill (a division of Ridgewells). Tim Miller, formerly of Mie N Yu, has been named executive chef. Ed Kwitowski, formerly of Ris and Bistro Bis, has been named executive chef of Fresh Start Contract Foods. Demetri Recachinas has been named Fresh Start programs manager. Previously, he had been with Buck’s Fishing & Camping. The team is headed by Gregg Malsbary, director of revenue generating programs. WOMEN RULE: Kimberly Geherin is the new general manager at Morton’s in Crystal City. She hails from Morton’s in Denver. Sherry Abedi has been named general manager at Ping Pong Dim Sum in Penn Quarter. Amy Troutmiller has been named general manger of West End Bistro by Eric Ripert at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC. She was previously assistant general manager at Urbana Restaurant & Bar at Kimpton’s Palomar Hotel in Dupont Circle. Linsey Haynie is the new event coordinator for Ris in DC’s West End. She moves over from the Metropolitan Club. From the folks who brought you Againn and Againn Tavern comes Italian Shirt Laundry (wood-fired pizza with a splash of gourmet deli) and Italian Cinema (If pronounced correctly, it’s “Chinema”.). They will join the hot spots that have recently opened along 14th Street, NW. Both restaurants are slated to open early in the first quarter (permit Gods willing) and both will have low price points ($10 per person). Italian Shirt Laundry is named for what used to be in that space during its last 100 years – yup, a laundromat. For Italian Cinema think Italian cheeses and salami (charcuterie). Check out the videos projected on the walls, which define its cinema moniker. Healthy dining comes to DC by way of France — no joke. Annie and Didier Leconte, joined by their son Eric, plan to open a healthy café called Litestars. There is a limited menu: savory tartlets, salads, and soupdrinks (drinkable soups – no spoon needed). They plan to open mid-October at 21st & L Streets, NW. Aiming to open by the beginning of October: Cubre Libre (Penn Quarter), DC3 (Barracks Row), Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill (Clarendon), Serendipity3 (Georgetown), Galileo III (Downtown DC), Pizza Paradiso (Old Town, Alexandria), and P.J. Clarke’s and Sidecar, its spiffy clubby downstairs (Downtown DC). One of its unique attractions that will lend a nod to its NYC roots: the men's room will house a pair of large, winged urinals from the 19th-century that have graced the original P.J. Clarke’s saloon since 1884. Rustico’s new Ballston location plans to open mid-to-late October. Steve Mannino will be executive chef over both Rustico restaurants – Ballston as well as the original one in Alexandria. Yes, there will be a Buzz Bakery next door to the new one in Ballston. Michel, the restaurant by Michel Richard at The Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, is targeting a mid-October opening. Queen Vic, on H Street in Atlas District, hopes to be open by mid-to-late October. Slow Food DC will be joined by Poste Moderne Brasserie to host a pig roast (ah, memories of Jean-Louis Palladin) to announce the new program, "Slow Food DC Snail of Approval.” The program intends to identify local food establishments and artisans that exemplify the Slow Food mission: good, clean, fair food. Nominations for Slow Food DC can be made after October 3, by members and supporters, using a simple form on Slow Food DC's website — www.slowfooddc.org. Slow Food DC will give out the first round of Snail of Approval stickers in 2011. A panel comprised of chefs, culinary professionals, and industry representatives will judge the award submissions. The Amsterdam Falafelshop, a fast casual restaurant in Adams Morgan, became only the eighth franchise system to be headquartered in Washington, DC, according to Arlington, VA-based FRANdata. FRANdata is a franchise research company that tracks and analyzes franchises and their performance. Their planned expansion is strategically targeted to the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions. Congratulations to Didier Rosada and Mike McCloud of Uptown Bakers. Uptown Bakers’ master baker and vice president of operations, Didier Rosada, was named a Top Ten Bread Maker in America by Dessert Professional magazine. Featured in the October issue, the annual award pays tribute to the country’s best bakers, based on quality and creativity. Uptown Bakers is owned by McCloud. ON THE CALENDAR: Tuesday, October 26: March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction with Chef Ris Lacoste and WJLA-TV anchor Leon Harris. Saturday, October 30: Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Taste of Stokes event at the E.W. Stokes Public Charter School in NE DC to bring attention to the unique school lunch program and the community partnership. Thursday, November 11: Capital Food Fight to benefit DC Central Kitchen.