Sunday, 23rd April 2017

Frankenstorm… You Have Our Attention

Posted on 29. Oct, 2012 by in Blogs

Dramatic dark sky with a cloud

Hunkered down, watching the news, and waiting for Sandy to unleash her full fury, I’m wondering just when the Metro DC area will lose power—and perhaps more importantly—how long before utility crews have an opportunity to restore it.

Throughout the storm social media offers a handy way to monitor progress pre- and post outage. I recommend following Justin Berk (@JustinWeather) on Twitter or Facebook to get updates from a local meteorologist. Berk is engaged in dialogue with the people in his extensive network, which gives the news he provides a personal feel.

As an alternative, you can also stream the latest news and weather from WTOP on your phone by dialing 202.380.9977.

Please take care and stay safe!

Metro DC Area Business Caterers

Posted on 23. Aug, 2012 by in LIFESTYLE

Metro DC Area Business Caterers
Metro DC Area Business Caterers

Metro DC Area Business Caterers

Planning on hosting a business luncheon? Satisfy your clients’ appetite with this extensive list of metro DC’s top caterers

3CITRON CATERERS
5586 Tuxedo Rd. | Cheverly, MD
202.342.3400 | 3citron.com

3Citron believes that every meal we cook reflects our passion for life. Every culture, race and religion throughout history has attached a great importance to the feasts, its means of celebration and self-expression. In America, we are fortunate to be surrounded by such diversity of cultures, which offers us a vast array of cuisines to use in creating our menus.

CELEBRATIONS CATERING
46090 Lake Center Plaza, Ste 308 | Potomac Falls,VA
703.450.6666 | celebrationscatering.com

Fabulous meals and memorable events are created with quality ingredients, skillful preparation and artistic presentation. We offer widely diversified menus for ever increasing international tastes. Our knowledgeable staff is friendly and courteous, providing attentive service that enhances your guest’s experience.

FUSIONS CUISINE
42395 Ryan Road #112-105 | Brambleton, VA
703.898.0728 | fusionscuisine.com

Fusions Cuisine is a referral-based caterer providing professional catering services to the greater Washington DC area. Fusions Cuisine was born out of a passion for combining distinct flavors from different ethnic backgrounds, creating a uniquely new American signature cuisine that is ingredient-driven and uses the freshest available components.

A LA CARTE
6100 Antioch Rd. | Haymarket, VA
703.754.2714 | alacartecaters.com

With more than 20 years exposure, À la Carte makes you look good. From an afterwork reception to a large fundraising gala, we’ll strategize planning, venue, logistics and timing for a smooth success.

AMERICAN CATERING
14918 Carlbern Dr. | Centreville, VA
703.449.9190 | americancateringevents.com

American Catering is a contemporary catering service with a clear-cut goal: to provide a dynamic balance of dining and decor, creating a truly special event for you and your guests.

AVALON CATERERS
109 Clermont Ave | Alexandria, VA
202.337.2000 | avaloncaterers.com

Avalon Caterers, named among “the best of the best” by Washingtonian Magazine, serves our clients with kindness, professionalism, and a keen interest for exceeding expectations.

CAPITOL CATERING
2316 Jefferson Davis Highway | Alexandria, VA
703.739.1030 | capitolcatering.com

Sara McGregor’s Capitol Catering makes your event exquisite, memorable, and yours. Your menu, your style, tailored to you. Corporate or social, weddings or galas, Capitol Catering works with precision to get it just right.

CATERING BY UPTOWN
4060 Powder Mill Rd | Calverton, MD
301.572.7744 | cateringbyuptown.com

Amazing Food, Flawless Service, Elegant Tablesettings, Complete Coordination, Beautiful Venues combine to provide you with unique value.

FESTIVE FOODS
4980 Wyaconda Rd. | Rockville, MD
301.230.2700 | festivefoods.com

Whether large or small, casual or elegant, Festive Foods will work with you to ensure that everything is perfect! No detail is too small, or challenge too large for our professional staff to handle.

THE CATERING COMPANY OF WASHINGTON
1341 L Street, NW, Washington, DC
202.347.8040 | thecateringco.com

At The Catering Company of Washington, our philosophy embraces a vision of food and entertaining as a spectacular symphony, a balance of diverse elements that must combine to make any event achieve its own exquisite intentions.

THE WASHINGTON 1ST & FRESH CATERING
1327 Kenilworth Ave, NE | Washington, DC
202.388.5555 | classicaffairscatering.com

While there are many Washington DC caterers, our catering team has traveled the globe and recognize the Mediterranean consists of a plethora of regional delights, gourmet foods, and foreign delicacies beyond the imagination, and not readily available to your average consumer.

DESIGN CUISINE
2659 South Shirlington Rd., Arlington, VA
703.979.9400 | designcuisine.com

We believe that a full-service caterer should lend its expertise, experience, and energy to the process of guiding a client through the millions of little decisions leading up to the event. We believe that a dedication to providing unparalleled service should persist until the departure of the last guest.

FRESH START CATERING
425 2nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
202.234.0707 | freshstartcatering.com

By offering gourmet “consciouis cuisine” prepared by graduates of the DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training program, Fresh Start offers a powerful opportunity to use your purchasing power as philanthropy. Fresh Start Catering uses local, seasonable and sustainable foods whenever possible in order to help support regional farms and families. Specializing in contract food services, business breakfasts, luncheons and drop-off meals, Fresh Start’s mission makes it easy and delicious to eat local and do good.

CUISINE BY BLEU
1015 31st Street NW #350, Washington, DC

202.333.2538 | bleu.com
Bleu meets the distinct needs of each guest by interacting with them on a warm and personal level. Our true service is about building relationships with guests.

DUTCH MILL CATERING
2335 Bladensburg Rd., NE, Washington, DC
202.526.8880 | dutchmillcatering.com

Dutch Mill Catering has proudly served the Washington D.C. and surrounding metro area since 1977. As a full service corporate caterer we enjoy working with you to design custom menus that will suit your palate and your budget. From a small gourmet sandwich luncheon to full service receptions for 500, we only serve the finest foods possible prepared from the freshest ingredients available.

ENTREE METROPOLITAN CATERING
1217 17th Street NE, Washington, DC
202.380.6966 | entreemetropolitan.com

Entree was created from my love affair with food. Every recipe, menu, and selection has been created through a labor of love.

GREAT FALLS GOURMET CATERERS
313 Spring Street | Herndon, VA
703.481.9500 | greatfallsgourmet.com

If you are looking for just the right company with exceptional personalized service to handle your next event, whether it be a simple corporate meeting, a company grand opening, a family reunion, a company picnic, an elegant dinner party, or your once in a life-time wedding, please contact Great Falls Gourmet Caterers.

HEAVEN’S BEST CATERING SERVICE
14135 Estate Manor Dr. | Gainesville, VA
703.357.0496 | heavens-bestcaterers.com

Heaven’s Best catering service is committed to delivering excellence in service, elegance in presentation and overwhelming satisfaction in taste.

HELGA’S CATERERS
6710 Old Dominion Dr. | McLean, VA
703.556.0780 | helgascatering.com

We take pride in helping every client create a truly extraordinary event. Our menus are just a starting point: you can add or adjust any items or suggest additional entries or even family-favorite recipes. From a cozy gathering at home, to a grand-scale gala, you can trust us to meet your highest expectations.

HONESTY GOURMET CATERERS
8039 Penn Randall Place, Ste. C.
Upper Marlboro, MD | 301.967.0200
honestygourmetcaterers.com

When fine dining and exceptional service are a mandatory requirement for the evening’s event, Honesty Gourmet Caterers brings many years of professional expertise to make your dining experience memorable.

MAIN STREET CATERING
14207 Old Annapolis Rd. | Bowie, MD
301.805.2508 | mainstreetcateringmd.com

A family tradition…fresh, wholesome food prepared with Maryland style, grace & taste! The first year we catered 25 events. Last year it was over 1,000 events.

MEZE CATERING
2437 18th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
202.294.4488 | mezecatering.com

Meze Catering offers light, delicious and exotic dishes for every event and budget. We offer pre-fix menus for any occasion. Our experienced team also can help you to create your own menu, plan your event, and select a venue.

THE KNIFE & FORK CATERERS
15841 Redland Rd. | Rockville, MD
301.670.4744 | theknifeandfork.com

Now in our 28th year of operation, The Knife & Fork Caterers is a well-organized, innovative party planning and catering company recognized by our clients, Washingtonian Magazine and Wedding Wire as one of the top caterers in the entire region. Our management team has some 60 years of collective experience in the fine-dining and catering industry.

MINDY’S CATERING
4816 MacArthur Blvd., NW, Washington, DC
202.342.6207 | mindyscateringdc.com

How do we do it? Simply put, we love what we do, we’re good at, and we have fun doing it! Over the last 14 years, our family-owned and operated full-service catering business has delighted customers in the Metro Washington area with personal service and attention that amazes.

MOULIN ROUGE CATERERS
80-A Bureau Dr. | Gaithersburg, MD
301.442.6867 | moulinrougecaterer.com

Moulin Rouge Catering Services is a full service, off–premise catering company that has been serving the Washington DC Metro Area since 1983. Specializing in Corporate Events, Wedding Receptions, Cocktail Parties, Holiday Parties, Bar-B-Q’s and Business Meetings.

NAPA VALLEY CATERING
1416 Eleventh St., NW |Washington, DC
202.232.7816 | napavalleycaterers.com

Our concept is California inspired, gathered from over 25 years of experience. We focus on professional food preparation and presentation, with a unique selection of the finest ingredients going into each creation.

OCCASION CATERERS
5458 Third Street, NE, | Washington, DC
202.546.7400 | occasionscaterers.co
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The Occasions team continues to delight their customers with the personal attention and creativity one expects when hosting an intimate dinner party, even when they are called upon to create larger and more complex events. Focusing on the details begins with our seasoned and knowledgeable sales and support staff.

QUITE A STIR CATERING
3212 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
202.298.6818 | quiteastircatering.com

Our recipe for success—Unparalleled professionalism, creative customized event design with meticulous attention to detail, while serving unsurpassed cuisine for gatherings from ten to thousands.

RIDGEWELLS
5525 Dorsey Lane, Bethesday, MD
301.652.1515 | ridgewells.com

It’s all about the experience. That’s why at Ridgewells, our singular focus is to create the perfect event. At home. At the office. Or anywhere you choose. For ten people or ten thousand. As caterers and event designers, we’re leading the way with organic catering and green entertaining. That means yummy menus made from sustainable, farm to table ingredients.

SANS RIVAL CATERERS
3636 16th St. NW Ste. A417 | Washington, DC

202.462.4454 | sansrivalcaterers.com
We at Sans Rival Caterers are proud to be entering our 25th year of serving the social, business, diplomatic, and government communities of the greater Washington D.C. area, working from our conveniently located facilities on 16th Street N.W.

SINPLICITY CATERING
6402 Arlington Blvd., Ste. B150 | Falls Church
703.892.1400 | sinplicitycatering.com

No one takes more care to provide the very best in food and service than Sinplicity. Totally from scratch. Artistically presented. Delivered on time. We guarantee it.

SPILLED MILK CATERING
202.525.6455 | spilledmilkcatering.com

We’re different from other Washington DC caterers because of our diverse and international approach to catering and cooking, which in turn enables the creation of a wider variety of menu items, both sweet and savory. We have combined our unique experiences and strengths to create an extensive menu of food options that can serve many event types and styles.

SUSAN GAGE CATERERS
7411 Livingston Rd., Oxon Hill, MD
301.839.6900 | susangage.com

Susan Gage began her catering career creating parties for friends from her home in suburban Washington. A self-taught chef, Susan initially catered with several friends in her local community, using her home kitchen as a base. She started her own company in 1986. Today, Susan Gage Caterers is a seven-day-a-week enterprise with more than 2000 parties yearly and $12 million in annual sales.

TEATIME DELICACIES, INC.
5623 Point Roundtop Ct., Burke, VA
703.323.1607 | teatimeinc.co
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Let Teatime Delicacies make your next catered event truly special – from elegant wedding receptions to important business affairs. Teatime catering offers a wide variety of delicious and artistically presented cuisine to suit your taste and budget, while our professional and personable catering staff impresses you and affords you the relaxation you deserve.

SAINT GERMAIN CATERING
8455 K Tyco Rd. | Vienna, VA
703.506.9396 | saintgermaincatering.com

For 20 years, Saint Germain Catering has provided the Washington DC area with creative and customized catering and event services. From informal business lunches to immaculate wedding receptions, Saint Germain Catering has you covered.

WELL DUNN CATERING
510 11th Street, SE, Washington, DC
202.543.7878 | welldunn.com

We continue to evolve, providing our clients the fresh style but always remembering that this business is all about relationships.

Local Bars in Metro DC

Posted on 22. Aug, 2012 by in LIFESTYLE, Local Bars

bars3

You made it through the work week. Time to hang up that suit and get down. DC singles were just declared the nation’s Biggest Boozers. We’re guessing this list of local bars probably had something to do with that.

The Washington Post reported recently that single young professionals living and working in the DC area party harder than those in any other city. We think it’s because we put in longer hours at more demanding jobs, so we’ve definitely earned it. DC is home to some of the nation’s most stressful jobs: Federal employment with the CIA and FBI, among other agencies, as well as lobbyists, lawyers, and Hill staffers. These employees deserve some serious playtime when they finally get a break. The city is also full of bright, hardworking graduate, doctoral, and law students at Georgetown, GW, and American. Without families to tie them down, once DC singles are finally ready to call it quitting time, where do they head out to get their drink on? Check out some of our favorite places.

Spider Kelly’s
3181 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
703-312-8888 | SpiderKellys.com

Reviewer Fritz Hahn of The Washington Post called this bar the hottest one in the entire Wilson Boulevard corridor. Replete with a cool island bar, lounge areas with comfortable couches, flat-screen TVs for sports, and a game room with pool tables, shuffleboard tables, and video games, Spider Kelly’s offers something for everyone, especially if you’re looking for a place to chill from happy hour until closing time. For-the-long-haul specials run from 4 to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

Bullfeathers
410 1st St., SE DC
202-484-0711 | BullFeathersDC.com

If there’s one bar that the staffers of our nation’s most important decision makers flock to, it’s Bullfeathers. With 31 microbrews on tap, an impressive wine list, pub and grill food in generous portions, and outdoor seating when the weather’s nice, who can really blame them?

Union Pub
201 Massachusetts Ave., NE DC
202-546-7200 | UnionPubDC.com

In case you don’t get your fill of Hill Staffers and craft beers at Bullfeathers, head on over to Union Pub, which boasts the largest outdoor patio on Capitol Hill. If that’s somehow not enough to entice you to visit on a beautiful DC summer evening, they have a stellar, unique menu and a great happy hour featuring sweet deals like $3 tacos on Monday nights until 8pm and $5 martinis on Fridays. Still need more? If the 27 flat-screen TVs and the bottomless weekend brunch don’t draw you in, just go home already.

ONCE DC SINGLES ARE FINALLY READY TO CALL IT QUITTING TIME, WHERE DO THEY HEAD OUT TO GET THEIR DRINK ON?

Poste
555 8th St., NW DC
202-783-6060 | PosteBrasserie.com

On the off chance that utterly awesome isn’t your style, Poste Moderne Brasserie also offers a great outdoor dining experience. From their website, “Set in the original 1841 General Post Office, Poste has become a modern-day favorite dining destination of local foodies and a leader in sustainable and eco-friendly practices.” Poste sources many of their meats and cheeses directly from their onsite garden, in addition to the local DC Freshfarm Market and other regional farms and ranches. Also of note is the punch bar, which serves an array of vodkas infused with seasonal fruits and herbs from the Poste garden. Yum.

Remingtons
639 Pennsylvania Ave., SE DC
202-543-3113 | RemingtonsWDC.com

Maybe sitting outdoors in the beautiful weather and enjoying a delicious bottle of wine from a local Virginia vineyard isn’t your thing. No problem. Put on your dancing shoes and head to Remingtons. They advertise themselves (quiet appropriately) as “Washington, DC’s premiere Entertainment, Show, and Country Western Nightclub.” One patron describes it as “one of the few bars I can walk into on my own and end up striking a conversation with whomever else is there. And the line dancing is always fun.” Between the two levels and four bars featuring dancing, drinking, and entertainment, this is one establishment that’s unlikely to disappoint.

PX
728 King St., Alexandria | 703-299-8384
EamonnsDublinChipper.com

This surreptitiously hidden modern speakeasy can be found above Eamonns restaurant in Old Town Alexandria. Jackets are required for men, so put on your finest threads before heading to PX, where patrons can experience a night straight out of the prohibition era. Food options are limited, so this bar might best be explored as an after dinner adventure. For the incredible ambiance, expect to pay up to $15 for a drink, but we promise it’s worth it. As one PX groupie explains, bartender and mixologist Todd Thrasher “approaches a drink like a chef, not a bartender, and that care shows.”

The Gibson
2009 14th St., NW DC
202-232-2156 | TheGibsonDC.com

If one speakeasy-inspired bar just isn’t enough to fulfill your secret desires to time travel back to the Roaring Twenties, don’t worry, there’s also The Gibson. Fritz Hahn describes this bar as “a cocktail-focused pseudo-speakeasy” that “offers some of the most interesting drinks in DC.” He goes on to say that “the cozy, romantic space, with its dark, candlelit decor, evokes the glamour of the ’20s and ’30s, as do such vintage drinks as the Sazerac (strong rye whiskey and bitters in a glass washed with absinthe) or the rich Japanese Cocktail (brandy, orgeat syrup and bitters).” We promise their creative drinks make it well worth the price and the effort to find them.

The Gibson Bar

The Gibson Bar

Local 16
1602 U St., NW DC
202-265-2828 | LocalSixteen.com

The owners tell it like this: “Local 16 is a longstanding neighborhood restaurant known for providing farm-driven, classic American fare served in a warm atmosphere. Farm dedicated to sourcing local ingredients, Local 16 truly partners with local farmers by making real, upfront financial commitments to source their products. Beginning in 2005, Local 16 took its commitment one step further by investing in a 160-acre bio-dynamic all heirloom Virginia farm. In exchange, Whipple Farm is a restaurant partner, supplying local, bio-dynamically grown heirloom produce that is used daily at Local 16. To support the bio-dynamic mission, Local 16 uses wood from the farm to fire the oven and the ashes are returned to help fertilize the soil.” With all that good news, the upstairs lounge, heated rooftop patio, and impressive Sunday brunch are just a sweet bonus.

My Brother’s Place
237 2nd St., NW DC
202-347-1350 | MyBrothersPlaceDC.com

With unbelievable happy hour drink specials, some of the friendliest bartenders on Capitol Hill, and an army of regulars, My Brother’s Place is not meant for a quiet, intimate evening out in DC. Offering Friday night beat-the-clock specials and an all-you-can-drink Saturday night deal, head over to My Brother’s Place if you’re looking to party hard and unwind after that long work week without breaking the bank.

Galaxy Hut
2711 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
703-525-8646 | GalaxyHut.com

An Arlington favorite, Galaxy Hut offers a great microbrew selection with 20 constantly rotating taps that allow patrons to enjoy a variety of wellknown beers or local favorites. To compliment such a stellar beer selection, Galaxy Hut offers a vegetarian-inspired menu and live music on Sunday and Monday nights.

Iota
2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
703-522-8340 | IotaClubAndCafe.com

Iota has a little something for everyone in Arlington. Stop in on your way to work for a delicious breakfast pastry and a coffee, espresso, or tea. Head over for a working lunch to use the free Wi-Fi while enjoying a wrap or Panini from Iota’s new bistro-style menu. Come back after work to enjoy dinner and a few drinks and then hang around for the great live music that starts nightly around 8pm.

Best Restaurants in DC

Posted on 22. Aug, 2012 by in LIFESTYLE, Restaurants

The Bar at Proof

The Bar Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca

The Bar Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca

DC is home to some pretty fantastic cuisine and world-renowned chefs. Gourmet baker and food writer Rebekah Pizana lists DC’s cream of the crop.

No city can truly be great without having its share of fantastic restaurants. They are the bedrock of a bustling city, a true cornerstone of a thriving culture and a dynamic people. In DC, we are indeed a lucky bunch. Not only has the nation’s capital become a serious gastronomical center, but it also serves as a major hub for international celebrity chefs and a happy home to experimental, cutting edge cuisine. Here you will find some of the best names in the business, catering to all tastes, backgrounds, and budgets. In a list compiled by Rebekah Pizana, we take a close look at some of DC’s best places to eat, drink, and be merry.

PROOF

The Bar at Proof

The Bar at Proof

775 G Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
202.737.7663

With eye-catching interiors and an unmatched wine program by Wine Director Sebastian Zutant (formerly of Komi and Rasika), guests can enjoy a memorable experience at Proof in DC’s Gallery Place neighborhood. From Champagne trolleys to an impressive late night menu from Executive Chef Haidar Karoum (also of Estadio), the wine-centric hotspot is dazzling but pricey. From 11pm to 1am Thursday through Saturday nights, indulge in fois gras scrambled eggs served on truffle-buttered toasted brioche, and Chef Karoum’s interpretation of the notorious Philly cheese steak, a tender Wagyu beef creation topped with provolone cheese and garnished with maitake mushrooms and jalapeno mayonnaise. Also on the menu, a classy list of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie offerings. Pair your late night indulgence with one of 40 by-the-glass selections or pick a bottle from over 1,000 choices of Proof’s full wine list. Stored in two visible, climate-controlled wine units, Proof houses over 4,000 bottles with a modern Enomatic (automatic wineserving technology) serving system.

CITRONELLE
3000 M Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20007
202.625.2150

Citronelle's Chef Michel Richard

Citronelle's Chef Michel Richard

(temporarily closed for repairs) Michel Richard’s Citronelle has been the recipient of numerous accolades by some of the most prestigious culinary publications and top dining awards around the world. Back in 1994, Richard opened his flagship restaurant, Citronelle, a romantic destinationstyle haven in the Latham Hotel just off of Georgetown’s cobblestone streets. Just two years later, Richard would be nominated for James Beard’s Chef of the Year Award and in 2008 he was given the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. It would be a crime not to agree with the critics and numerous awards committees. Citronelle has remained consistent throughout the years, a tried and true French restaurant with astonishing dishes and some of the most beautifully executed desserts in town. Be sure to order Richard’s escargot and sweetbread croutons with a parsley shallot sauce. Few restaurants in the area deliver escargot as well as Citronelle. Complete your meal with the Chocolate Degustation and an Espresso Grand Cru. The Lounge menu offers a nice preview of the dinner menu, a notable sazerac, and eye-catching mushroom cigars.

L’AUBERGE CHEZ FRANCOIS
332 Springvale Road
Great Falls, VA 22066
703.759.3800

L’Auberge Chez Francois opened back in 1976 by Chef Jacques Haeringer’s father, the late Francois Haeringer. The cozy Alsatian restaurant, housed in a charming countryside cottage with exposed wood and white paint, is situated in the green hills of Great Falls, Virginia. Chef Haeringer and his staff have catered to local, national, and international patrons, including former Presidents, members of Congress, celebrities, foreign dignitaries, and power brokers in Washington, DC. The menu is almost legendary, serving a real Alsatian feast of sauerkraut, sausages, pork sausage, duck confit, and foie gras, along with Beef Bourguignon, spaëtzles, and seasonal vegetables—a dish even Julia Child would be impressed with.
Chez Francois is almost a fixture on the Northern Virginia landscape, and it’s no surprise Chef Haeringer and his staff have been awarded AAA’s Four Diamond Award for quality and service. There’s no need to wait for a special occasion to experience the dining at Chez Francois. Just sitting at one of the white-linen covered tables and staring at the menu is an occasion itself.

GRANVILLE MOORE’S
1238 H Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002
202.399.2546

It’s no wonder Chef Teddy Folkman beat Bobby Flay in a moules-frites throwdown back in 2008, since it took Folkman and his team three months to decide where they would source their mussels from. Granville Moore’s famous, plump mussels are grown by Icy Storm farm on Prince Edward Island. Rope-grown and suspended in water, Folkman chose these particular mussels for a cleaner, less “oceany” taste also resulting in large, meaty flesh. A gastropub with a healthy “Belgian fetish,” Granville’s has been serving upscale bar food on DC’s northeast H Street since 2007 and quickly became a destination restaurant and food-lover escape. The rustic pub also serves a memorable brunch. Enjoy authentic Belgian waffles and a to-die-for Monte Cristo with spicy Old Bay seasoned Bloody Mary’s until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Beer lovers can choose from a wide selection of Belgian beers and American craft beers. Beverage Director Matt LeBarron maintains a core list of over 40 bottled beers and rotates seven draft beers.

Clockwise from top left: The Bar at Granville Moore's, Passionfish, Chef Jacques Haeringer (L’Auberge Chez François)

Clockwise from top left: The Bar at Granville Moore's, Passionfish, Chef Jacques Haeringer (L’Auberge Chez François)

FOUNDING FARMERS
1924 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20006
202.822.8783

The 285 seat, Certified Green Restaurant is not just good at conserving energy, but Founding Farmers serves a bodacious brunch on Saturday and Sundays from 9am to 2pm. Early riser? Enjoy an artisanal American breakfast Monday through Friday 7am to 11am. Chief Mixologist Jon Arroyo serves award-winning Prohibition–style cocktails, and thanks to Chef Joe Goetze, Founding Farmers provides one of the few brunches in the area providing a wide array of options that satisfy most diners.

The two-level, casual and eco-friendly Foggy Bottom restaurant seems to be inserted right smack in the middle of the newly renovated professional office fronts in one of DC’s oldest neighborhoods. Designed to feel like a modern farmhouse, the wooden, communal tables, and sleek, open bar stay packed on the weekends. From the chicken and waffles, “red flannel” beet and leek hash browns, to the made-toorder beignets and farm-house iron pressed waffles, you’ll walk out the large glass doors feeling like you should have spent more.

PASSIONFISH
11960 Democracy Drive
Reston, VA 20190
703.230.3474

Part of the Passion Food Hospitality group (DC Coast, Acadiana, Ceiba), owner Jeff Tunks’ goal for PassionFish is to celebrate the flavors, natural resources, and traditional techniques of the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The fusion restaurant’s contemporary, ocean-themed interior conveys the perfect setting for seasonal seafood and fresh ingredients. Chef Chris Clime specializes in ceviches and cioppino, lobster rolls and crispy whole fish. The restaurant also showcases an impressive raw bar led by a dedicated sushi chef. Albeit pricey, PassionFish is perfectly located in Reston Town Center, a high-end popular weekend and night spot for locals near the Dulles Corridor.

Although the raw bar is the main attraction, don’t walk away without sampling the whole crispy flounder served with a spicy tamarind chili nam pla (fish sauce) and cucumber sunomono (rice vinegar based) salad.

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca

BIBIANA OSTERIA-ENOTECA
1100 New York Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20005
202.216.9550

It’s not often that you stumble into an Italian restaurant where the bar is a popular component, drawing your attention with bold colors and fashionable design. Small views into the bustling kitchen from the sleek, low-back chairs keep your senses intrigued. Apart from the contemporary bar, lounge, and dining room, Bibiana delivers top-notch service, moderate prices, a $25 multi-course lunch menu and authentic Italian wine list. This is no surprise coming from successful restaurateur Ashok Bajaj, proprietor of renowned dining rendezvous Oval Room and Rasika.

Unlike many restaurants with lengthy menus, there is no need to order a sampling of each dish to discover the Chef’s unique talents. Executive Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s nuanced Italian menu is rich in handmade pasta fresca and local pesci. Whether you order Stefanelli’s 5-course $75 tasting menu, $10 happy hour pizza, or a small plate of smoky patate in crosta (smoked potatoes crushed with extra virgin olive oil), be sure enjoy your meal with one of beverage director Francesco Amodeo’s barrelaged cocktails.

PS 7 RESTAURANT
777 I Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20001
202.742.8550

Chef/Owner Peter Smith simply can’t stand to be bored. At PS 7 Restaurant in DC’s China Town/Penn Quarter, Smith finds his laboratory for exuberantly creative “American Cultural Cuisine.” Largely known for its unique spin on all-American cuisine and innovative cocktails, be impressed with the simplest of items like tuna sliders, half smokes and a gin or vodka cocktail spruced up with jalapeno tincture or kashmiri chiles. Smith’s award-winning half smokes are not your typical smoked hot dogs. The generous housemade frankfurters are served with a white veal chili, aged cheddar cheese, chives, and spicy dijon mustard.

Desserts are not to be missed. Pastry Chef Lauren Whitledge (formerly of DC Coast) brings wildly creative and dangerously good desserts like the Pull-Apart Pork Sticky Bun and boozy snow cones (think slushy frozen daiquiris).

FOGO DE CHAO
1101 Pennsylvania Avenue NW #1
Washington, DC 20004
202.347.4668

Fogo de Chao brings that “gaucho” spirit (i.e. South-American cowboy) to guy’s night. When you hear all-you-can-eatsteak, you may not automatically think of high-quality food and fine-dining level service, but Fogo de Chao stumps its diners in every way. The Brazilian churrascaria in the heart of Penn Quarter is an authentic steakhouse that originated in Brazil over 30 years ago.

With over a dozen locations in the U.S., Fogo de Chao gives off no chain-restaurant vibe but serves up an abundance of food and a welcoming, personal experience. Chefs carve 15 different cuts of meat tableside and make sure their diners don’t walk away hungry or unhappy. The prix-fixe menu includes beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and sausage. Walk away full and happy after plates of juicy sirloin and Brazilian side dishes, not to mention a gourmet salad bar with more than 30 items to choose from.

Correlation: Women on the Board = Higher Returns

Posted on 22. Feb, 2012 by in Blogs

capitol

Today we’re driving down to Richmond to hear what Governor McDonnell has to say about “The Year of the Entrepreneur.” The press conference is part of StartUp Virginia (and StartUp America), programs designed to celebrate, inspire, and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship and energize our local economies. I’m wondering how many women will be at the event.

According to a recent article in TechCrunch, gender bias in the executive suite and boardroom still exist at astonishingly high levels.

  • 12 of the Fortune 500 are led by women (down from 15 in 2010)
  • 15.7% of the Fortune 500’s board members are women
  • Less than 10% of California tech company board members are women

I wonder if Virginia will fare better for the fairer sex. The Metro DC area has become a hotbed of startup activity recently, so there’s opportunity to diversify in the boardroom. And we should. Research shows that companies with women on the board ‘demonstrate higher collective intelligence.’ These companies produce 48% better return on equity. Wow. Leadership style apparently does matter.

Men have dominated corporate power structures since the industrial age began. It used to be that women had to adopt their commonly accepted style in order to climb the corporate ladder. Do misperceptions about style and positional power still hold us back?

If a 48% better return on equity holds constant, I wonder how much value the glass ceiling has squandered over time. Let’s get on track and balance our boardrooms through diversity in all forms. It shouldn’t be hard to beat the pants off of California!

Welcome to Brazil

Posted on 01. Feb, 2012 by in LIFESTYLE

brazil2


Brazil is South America’s number one economy and ranks seventh globally. Brazil has seen a dramatic shift in its economic fortunes over the past two decades. From spending much of its history living up to it’s label as one of the world’s biggest underachievers, Brazil has been transformed into a fully industrialized, modern state that is the envy of its neighbors and a positive role model to the world. But how were they able to pull it off ? When so much of the world is still wallowing in perpetual economic stagnation, Brazil and a handful of other nations have become models of unbridled success.

For nearly a decade, Brazil has steadily improved its macroeconomic stability, reduced its considerable debt, and built up an impressive foreign currency reserve. Th is discipline, coupled with the opening up of its markets to outside forces in the 1990s, has been the foundation upon which the rest of the economy has been resting and has consequently lead to an average annual growth rate of over 5%, one of the most impressive figures in the world economy.

…BRAZIL AND A HANDFUL OF OTHER NATIONS HAVE BECOME
MODELS OF UNBRIDLED SUCCESS.

Brazil is a technologically sophisticated country. Along with a vibrant automotive industry, Brazil has also begun leading the way in submarine construction, aerospace engineering, as well as space research. Brazil has become the only country in the Southern Hemisphere that possesses a satellite launching facility and can contribute original research for the International Space Station.

Being that we are limited by space, we haven’t attempted at a full profile on Brazil’s economic miracle. Instead, we’ll focus on how some Metro DC area natives are making waves in Brazil and how they are benefitting from the Brazilian Boom. Jonathan Whittle is the cofounder and CEO of Axeso Payment Solutions, a prepaid credit card company that off ers its services to an ever-growing and socially mobile Brazilian populace. We spoke to him about his experiences in Latin America and asked for a few pointers for those interested in making the leap into the Brazilian market.

We also asked Steven Bipes, the Executive Director of the Brazil-U.S. Business Council about the economic relationship the United States and Brazil have shared over the years, and where he expects to see it in the near future. Finally we spoke to Philip Gough, the Counselor for Trade Promotion and Investment Affairs in the Brazilian Embassy and asked him about Brazil’s investments in the Unites States, and where some of Brazil’s most exciting prospects are for investment.

Brazil is a country on the move. With the Olympics and the World Cup on the horizon, Brazil has become that much more important for those of us who are searching for the next great investment opportunities. As I write this, NPR is reporting that Brazil is out stripping the rest of BRIC in growth and future economic stability. Looks like the brightest star in Latin America will shine ever brighter in the future.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Press Conference

Posted on 07. Nov, 2011 by in Blogs

protest

It turned into a protest. The experience provided a great reminder that how one delivers a message is as important as the message itself.

I attended the ‘press conference’ as a way to learn about an important local topic. The protesters made some valid points about issues that impact everyone who lives in the Metro DC area. And yet, nearly no one listened because of they way they chose to present their ideas.

That morning, a single camera crew quickly came and went. Then we waited for the next wave, which turned out to be a sole reporter from The Washington Post. Although no video cameras rolled for the second presentation, people acted as if there were on film. Participants passionately read prepared statements. In doing so they forgot the following basics about communication:

  • Match your tone to the situation
  • Focus—too many ideas dilute the message
  • Connect with your audience
  • Pay attention to nonverbal clues

Because press conferences (or protests for that matter) constitute a form of one-way communication, effectively reading your audience becomes a critical success factor. Presenting to an individual differs from posturing for a video camera. By restaging the event and passionately arguing their points, the participants lost an opportunity to connect with the reporter on a very human level.

Observing the group dynamics proved to be the most interesting part of the day. The reporter behaved professionally at all times and took notes on golden nuggets. But it was obvious when she disengaged on a personal level. No one else noticed.

While The Washington Post ran a story on the event, it didn’t cover all of the key messages the group wanted to communicate. And now I’ve been asked to write a letter to the editor to ‘fill out’ the story. Perhaps the protesters should have read the look of chagrin on my face when they tried to hand me a protest sign. Then they’d know the answer to their request would be ‘no.’

Being passionate about your cause or your company isn’t enough. People won’t take action on your behalf unless you engage them emotionally. Companies with great brands know this and strive to match the message with the method every time. I will write about the issue—but only when I’m ready and in a way that represents my views, which may or may not coincide with theirs.

Founder and Chairman of Sun Design, Craig Durosko and President Bob Gallagher

Posted on 02. Nov, 2011 by in MARKETING, OPERATIONS

Founder and Chairman of Sun Design, Craig Durosko and President Bob Gallagher

By Craig Durosko and Bob Gallagher | Photography by Michael Vonal

Founder and Chairman of Sun Design, Craig Durosko and President Bob Gallagher

We Washingtonians love to brag that our region is more recession proof than any other part of the country. Certainly the steady flow of federal dollars into our economy helps, giving employees of local companies more dollars to spend on just about everything–food, clothing, entertainment, travel and, thank you very much, home remodeling.

Washington does have an advantage. We have the highest median household economy of any region in the country. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, five of the 10 richest jurisdictions in the U.S. are right here– Fairfax, Loudoun and Howard counties as well as Falls Church and Fairfax City. At the top of the list is Great Falls where half of households earn a quarter-million dollars or more. Localeconomy guru Stephen Fuller at George Mason University says that more than $80 billion in federal contracting dollars will flow into our region this year.

Prices can be high here, but if you consider the ratio of income to cost of housing and other essentials, it is affordable for millions of people. With low unemployment, people come here for jobs. And, many are here on their second careers – after government or military service. All good, right? Well, the only problem is that if you are a regional company like Sun Design, all of your competitors are right here in the Metro area enjoying the same relatively upbeat economy. But it’s a big enough market for just about everyone if you know how to navigate it.

We’ve been in business here for 23 years and we’ve learned a few things along the way about surviving and thriving in this great – but super-competitive – region. We’ve gone from a one-person shop in 1988 (when Craig was 18 years old) to a mid-sized business of about 45 employees with annual income of about $8 million. We’ve weathered three recessions. Last year was Sun Design’s third best year in revenue and 2011 is going to be even better. In late fall/ early winter, we’re opening up our second office, in McLean, to make ourselves more accessible to clients, especially in light of the region’s heavy traffic.

Riding the Wave
Recently we did a study of our customer base and found that, no surprise, many of our clients are government employees. Our experience has shown also that with good schools, cohesive neighborhoods and other perks, people tend to stay in their homes for a long time (except those on military rotation of course). We’ve also had clients who are executives at some of the largest private sector companies in the region: Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, CACI, SAIC, Exxon Mobil and many other companies, large and small. Among the many lessons we’ve learned along the way, these stand out: the importance of ready cash, the value of intensive marketing, building a great company culture, making our financials transparent to all employees, getting accurate customer feedback and educating ourselves and our clients.

The Importance of Ready Cash
The construction and remodeling businesses, like most other industries in the region, are very tough, and recent downturns in the economy have not made them any easier. But the single most important buffer is cash. We have always reinvested 90 percent of our net income back into the business. People often mistakenly overextend — like buying their own building too soon — and hope that future profits will carry them over. Revenue is not really cash, of course, until you put expenses against it. Since we started our business, we’ve watched a number of our competitors fall by the wayside because they grew too quickly. As a rule of thumb, we keep enough cash on hand to weather the ups and downs of a fickle local economy.

Marketing
If your clients, prospects, vendors, investors, networking associates and other important influentials don’t hear from you on a regular basis, they will forget about you or, even worse, assume you are no longer in business. You must have a solid and diverse marketing program to reach out to all of your audiences. In addition to running a great website (that’s a given for any company) we do direct marketing, run a consistent public relations program to get major stories in the regional and local press, we employ social media where appropriate and, very important, we host over a dozen free events each year. They include home tours (to show off our remodeling work), and networking events and open houses at our offices. The open houses feature free courses on remodeling topics and great food. Attendance at events has been excellent (sometimes standing room only) and has resulted in significant new business. We send out e-blasts and e-newsletters (event invitations, how-to articles and news) to a relatively large list of people, targeted very specifically to the type of remodeling that interests them.

Building a Great Culture
Businesses brag that “people are our most important assets.” If it’s true, good. If not, there will be a stampede out of your door in the direction of your competitors. Sun Design is known for having a great corporate culture and a staff that clients love to work with. It starts with good hires. The hiring process is something we never delegate. While potential employees interview with numerous staff members, we two owners always have the last word. Many hiring managers end up hiring people just like themselves – that’s a mistake that just broadens your weaknesses. We have a hard-working but fun culture and we hire for attitude, values and organizational fit as much as for skills and experience. Clients can tell right away whether your employees are satisfied and engaged — employee work is of a higher quality and team members are a pleasure to deal with. One of the lessons we could have learned sooner was the value of intense and very focused training. While we have always trained our staff in making the customer experience great, it is only within the past few years that we have made it the foundation for everything we do. Every employee in our company is, in effect, a salesperson and a customer service representative whose primary role is to ensure that deadlines are met, promises kept and expectations exceeded. We even have a “Director of First Impressions” to help guide clients smoothly into the remodeling process.

Open-Book Management
Like many companies, we stage employee social events, sales contests and other morale building activities. Recently we held a competition in which the winners got to pelt the authors of this article with pies (oddly enough, the whole staff enjoyed the spectacle!). But morale and team-building at Sun Design is more than fun and games. We want our employees to understand how their work affects the whole company. As such, we open our financials to ALL of our employees in monthly meetings. It’s called “open-book management,” regularly providing employees with financial data (except salaries) and other information so they can understand their work in the context of the whole organization. We set sales and income targets and if the company meets those goals, employees share in the profits. Rewards range from a few hours pay to as much as two week’s worth. Since we opened our books many years ago, we have seen employees more engaged and motivated. It also has enabled us to be more accurate in “forward forecasting” revenue, anticipating possible hurdles and customer needs because we have input from the whole team. Many practitioners like Sun Design base their methods on the book The Great Game of Business, by Jack Stack, who says that only a small percentage of U.S. companies open their books to employees, but that 83 percent of companies that his organization identifies as Top Small Company Workplaces do. Opening the books may seem counterintuitive at first. Many executives worry about sharing numbers with employees and then having the employees leave the company. We have a different approach: Owners should be more concerned if they don’t share the numbers and the employees stay!

Feedback
In any business that depends in large part on referrals (don’t they all?) knowing what your audiences think about you is critical. We know what our clients think of us because we ask them. In addition to us asking our clients to grade our performance throughout the project, we use a third-party service to take regular surveys of our clients to produce scores that we can track. One of the things we ask them is if they plan to refer us to others – of which nearly 100% do!

Educating ourselves and our clients
Customers also count on us to be experts on the ways in which people live in their homes. For example, an older couple planning to stay in their home might have very different requirements than a young family in their first house. We need to make sure we don’t underdesign or overdesign our remodel and we do that by working hard to know the customer before we make even the first design decision. Even a house where only two people live may have 25 or more people during holidays or other times. More people are working from home today making home offices more common. Tubs are giving way to spa-like showers. People prepare food while guests are with them in the kitchen. Formal living rooms are not as popular because people want open spaces in which to entertain. They want greener materials and smarter energy use. So what we do is listen closely to our clients and develop their specific and exciting plan for the way they and their family want to live their lifestyles. What we are moving toward in our business is bringing people together. Remodeling just happens to be the way we do it.

Our goal is to grow a company that will outlast the owners, a permanent place where the quality of work, integrity, job satisfaction and fun are second to none.

Don Rainey

Posted on 31. Oct, 2011 by in LEADERSHIP

Don Rainey

Photography By Michael Vonal

DON RAINEY, THE VENTURE MAN

When Don Rainey isn’t discovering the latest and greatest early stage tech firms, he keeps busy by serving on the boards of ARPU, Clarabrisge, LivingSocial and Zenoss. Don Rainey is also a technology consultant to the Chief Information Officer of the US Department of Defense through the DeVenCi Program, seeking out firms that can help the Department of Defense overcome some of its more pressing technology needs. Don Rainey is also an Organizing Board member of the Mindshare forum, which seeks to help CEOs in the Metro DC area to build strong and lasting companies. Despite all that is on his plate, Don found the time to share with us some of his thoughts.

What does Grotech Ventures do?

Grotech Ventures is an early stage, venture capital firm. We strive to be the first investors in high potential technology companies. Our team is committed to finding and backing the best local talent pursuing the biggest ideas. The firm is 27 years old, and since most of us had our businesses prior to doing this, we have the experience to positively influence the outcome.


When an entrepreneur comes to you for funding, what are the top three things that you look for in a company? What are some overrated things that entrepreneurs pitch to you?

The top 3 things we look for in a company are management talent, visible traction with customers or in markets and a plan that can succeed in multiple ways. The most overrated things that entrepreneurs pitch us are “me-too” ideas that copy currently successful companies or ideas that chase smaller markets.

You are on the boards of numerous associations, and companies, how do you choose who you affiliate yourself with?

I like to be involved with lively people that are committed to improving the world. They are out there.

What are the risks of backing early stage tech firms, what are some of the benefits?
The risks of backing early stage companies are many and varied but typically focus on the market, the product and the team. Sometimes, the market isn’t there and sometimes it is there but the market doesn’t want the product. Or, sometimes, it doesn’t matter because management is incapable of producing a product or reaching the market. The benefits of backing early-stage companies are profound and rewarding to investors and management. I like the creative side of being part of creating something from nothing. It is thrilling and I will never stop doing it.

What does DeVenCI Program do and what is your role there?

DeVenCI is a Department of Defense program to fast track the adoption of innovative technologies where a dozen venture capitalists volunteer their time to help the DOD find these new technologies. We meet around the country with DOD personnel who tell us about their unmet technology needs. The DOD personnel aren’t usually aware of the state of the art in technology. We, as VC’s are given our investment focus on emerging technologies. So, we go out on a big scavenger hunt every few months to find whatever they ask for and we have been very successful. I am on my 3rd 2 year term with DeVenCI now. All that being said, I do not have any government security clearances, so when I ask for specifics about the usage of previous products recommendations, I get an answer that sounds like this – “We love it, it is working well in the field, and how is the weather at your house?”

What are some of the trends you see in D.C. and how does it compare to what’s going on in Silicon Valley. What are some of the benefits of being in D.C.?

Silicon Valley will always be better at the creation of technology tool businesses than any other region. They are advantaged in skills, disposition and capital to do this. The rest of the world will take these tools and use them to create their own new businesses. New York is doing this well with advertising related companies. D.C.’s startups are well positioned for the progression of social media. D.C. is better situated and skilled for the coming convergence of social media and public policy. Silicon Valley and New York “don’t get” public policy.

What have been your biggest disappointments and your biggest surprises?

My biggest disappointments were also surprises. I had one CEO who turned out to be world class at ignoring good advice regardless of source. And another one with a tenuous and unfamiliar relationship with the truth.

Some of the very successful and innovative tech firms out there have been started and led by entrepreneurs under the age of 30, such as Google, Facebook Zynga, Pandora, Amazon, and Ebay, among many others. Have tech firms become a young man’s game?
They are for the young or the young-atheart. Tech firms are created from the application of new tools to old problems. Younger people tend to be more conversant in the newer tools and less accepting of the old problems. None of that precludes older folks. But given the tendency of younger people to command the power of new tools, startups can be a younger person’s domain.

How much of what you do is based on metrics, and how much is based on intuition?
I think it is more art than science, so I say both-with a heavy mixture of intuition. In the industry, we prefer the term “pattern recognition” to either metrics or intuition. Pattern recognition is the process of matching what one has seen work in many different contexts to the proposal at hand. With startups, everybody is typically trying to do something that hasn’t been done previously. So we look for analogous experiences–start up successes and failures –and attempt to find matches. That is pattern recognition. Prior successes and future ones tend to look alike.

What are your sources of motivation? Who do you find inspiring?
I am an advocate for entrepreneurial endeavors. I often tell MBA students that in starting a business, there is only one sure thing. You may succeed or you may fail, but the act of starting as a business will absolutely change you as a person. That progression of people, or being part of that progression, is my life’s work. I love it. And, I find it inspiring every day.

What’s next for Don Rainey?
I just joined the Board of Visitors at James Madison University, my alma mater, and I am very excited about the opportunity to serve the greater community around the school.

DC’s Native Son: Geoff Tracy

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in LEADERSHIP

DC’s Native Son: Geoff Tracy

Geoff Tracy - Photography by Michael Vonal

Geoff Tracy is not your typical chef. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1995 where he studied theology, Tracy took an unlikely turn and entered the culinary world where he found his true calling and passion. Before his 30th year, Tracy had already opened two landmark restaurants, Chef Geoff in 2000 and Chef Geoff Downtown in 2002. Following the resounding success of his first two restaurants, Tracy opened Lia’s in Chevy Chase, Hank’s Tavern and Eats in Hyattsville, and finally Chef Geoff in Tyson’s Corner.

Chef Geoff’s path to becoming one of D.C.’s premier chefs started rather humbly. After finishing college and spending some time wandering the United States, he had a chance encounter with Tom Meyer of Clyde’s, who advised him to get a few jobs in local restaurants and see if he still liked the idea of becoming a chef. Tracy complied and soon discovered his passion for cuisine was unhindered by the unglamorous and often tedious daily grind of restaurant work. He then decided to enroll at the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, NY, where he impressively finished first in his class.

Chef Geoff is now the owner of five area restaurants, employs over 300 people and oversees a burgeoning culinary empire that serves over 750,000 guests a year. Somehow finding the time, Tracy has co-authored a new book along with his lovely wife and White House Correspondent for CBS News, Norah O’Donnell, called Baby Love, which shares healthy organic recipes for busy parents.

You graduated from Georgetown University majoring in theology. What made you decide you wanted to be a chef? Was there a eureka moment, or was this something you had always wanted to do?
I took a job as a busboy during the summer before my freshman year at Georgetown. I loved the controlled chaos of the restaurant and working directly with guests. It gave me a real sense of accomplishment. At Georgetown, I ran a student-owned grocery store. Again, it was a hands-on business experience with tangible results. Being a trained chef and restaurateur allows me to create businesses from literally nothing. That is an amazing feeling. And what is even better is that people the public love visiting our creations.

You opened two restaurants before you were 30. That didn’t leave you too much time as an apprentice, if any. Traditionally, chefs tended to apprentice for years before they get to a level where they could become independent. Is there a secret sauce to your fast track to stardom and fame?
I trained at the Culinary Institute of America where I learned the fundamentals of cooking. I worked in a few other kitchens and absorbed as much as I could. But there is a difference between being an executive chef and being a restaurateur. I wanted the latter route. So, at age 27, I jumped off the entrepreneurial cliff and created my first restaurant. I wasn’t very well capitalized and I had no investors. There was a lot I didn’t know and absolutely nobody knew who I was. But I was passionate, hard working, and I had some great people who joined my team. We built the business from the ground up. I now have 300 really incredible people working with me. I am very proud of that.

I am very glad I made the jump at age 27. Young entrepreneurial people ask me all the time how long they should work for others before making the jump and going out on their own. I tell them exactly what my mentor told me in 1999. “The time is now.” Waiting 10, 15 or even 20 years is too long. By that time you’ll be married, have a child, have a mortgage or even a vacation home. You’ll have commitments and responsibilities. Young entrepreneurs have big dreams and little to lose. The hardest part is the first step.

You’re expanding in the metro D.C. area and you have five restaurants so far. Why Washington? Do you have any plans to expand outside the D.C. area?
Washington, D.C. is my favorite city in the world. It is beautiful, the weather is great, and I love the people. I met Norah here, my children were born here, and it is my home. My goal is to continue to open and operate restaurants in this area. I like to visit the restaurants often, so my rule of thumb is that the restaurant has to be within ten miles of my main office. My ten-year plan is to have ten restaurants, although it comes with an important caveat: I have to continue to enjoy it. If it ever gets overwhelming, I’ll scale back. But right now, I love it. I have the greatest job in the world.

Gordon Ramsay of Hell’s Kitchen is rude, abrasive and in your face. As a successful restaurant owner and manager, what is your management style. How do you run your kitchen? Is it hell or heaven?

That is Chef Ramsay’s shtick and it gets ratings. I’m not a yeller. I don’t think I have yelled at an employee in almost five years. Part of that is because we have systems to address operational issues. Our vice president, Chris Tracy, who joined me in 2006, has been instrumental in implementing systems that create structure and organization. We have very clear expectations and training. We constantly measure and evaluate performance. This means we can fine tune operations. Chef Ramsay is grumpy because he doesn’t have those systems. Not to mention it would make for boring television if his restaurants were well organized and properly staffed. I’m sure his demeanor when the cameras are gone is quite different.

I also truly appreciate the hard work and effort that my staff put forth every day. I have been a host, waiter, cook and busboy. I know how hard a restaurant job is, and I know how good my team is.

With the growth of TV celebrity chefs and cooking reality shows, there is a whole generation of young people who want to become chefs. What would be your recommendation to them? Should they run for the hills, or is being a chef all that it’s cracked up to be?

Being anything worthwhile is hard. The most important thing is that you love the process. A career is a long journey. I wouldn’t trade away any part of my journey.

You have five restaurants, your wife is a professional television personality, and you have young children. How do you balance your work and personal life? Are you like many of us, who squeeze in family and fun wherever we can, or do you have a formula for success?
Norah claims that “work life – personal life balance” suggests equal time is spent on these two parts, and that it is essentially impossible to do so. I agree with her. A career takes up a lot of time. Fortunately, I love my work. I think that makes me a good role model for my kids. I have also achieved a point in my business where I can hire people to do what I used to do who are much better than I ever was. That is pretty liberating.

Who do you find exciting in the culinary world? Which chefs inspire you?
I am amazed at the creativity in this industry. I find them all an inspiration, especially those who have the courage to create successful businesses from their ideas.

Many large restaurant owners partner up with REITs, (Real Estaste Investment Trusts). Is that something you’ve done or would consider doing in the future? Why or why not? I haven’t, and it sounds a bit convoluted. My ownership structure has been very simple. I own 100%.

Do you have an opinion on social media and daily deal types of websites that many fine dining establishments are using to draw in customers? Do you think that they have a positive or negative effect on the industry?
Social media is great. It is an amazing platform to communicate with guests and potential guests. As with any type of marketing, it has to be done right. I use Twitter, Facebook, Venga and have 45,000 people on my email list who receive my newsletter. Daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social and others can be a benefit to restaurants from a marketing perspective. However, it is extremely expensive marketing. The restaurant is essentially letting thousands of people eat for less than the cost of goods sold, in return for an email sent to thousands of people. It’s an advertising/marketing decision as to whether it is good or bad.