District Restaurant News | Fall 2019 Issue

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Restaurant FALL 2019






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Letter from the Editor 04 Editor’s Letter 05 Emilie’s opens in D.C. 07 Consumers want sustainability from foodservice 11 Restaurant outlook 2020 14 Why Chiko in D.C. is a trend 19 Business and restaurant industry calendar 20 Restaurant block and tackle 23 Pizza trending in D.C. 26 Off-premises business offers incredible opportunity

BUSINESS Executive Editor Rick Zambrano contactrick@eaterypulse.net

About District Restaurant News District Restaurant News is the perfect trade magazine for the fast-paced and competitive Washington, D.C. restaurant scene. Metro D.C. is becoming the place to experience cuisine at its best. It’s a hotbed of design, concept and culinary innovation. But Metro-D.C. isn’t just for foodies—it’s also a great place for restaurant and culinary innovators to realize their dreams and build businesses. These innovators, and the larger industry of vibrant restaurant owners and operators, deserve tools to succeed. Powered by Eatery Pulse, District Restaurant News is published quarterly.

Swizzle Chill TV Photography Anthony Torres Assistant Editor Margaret McConnell Editorial Designer Ashley McCarty Contributors Lisa Comento, Eric Nomis, Christina Perez To place an ad or for business development opportunities, navigate to district.eatery.news.

Powered by Copyright 2019 Eatery Pulse News Media.

Photo left: Delivery takes off. Photo by Clay Banks. On the cover: White Miso Tom Yum Goong with Shrimp. Photo by Toh Roong pop-up at Toki Underground.

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Editor’s Note Providing good service is complicated. In the hospitality business, they say you can’t train for attitude and friendliness, but you can train for all the other skills. I noticed a report from intelligence firm TDn2K recently that correlated strong sales performers with those ranking high in ambience and service. Funny that, in the age of Uber Eats and DoorDash, and the frenzy of Instagramming food, the environment and service of a restaurant are the most impressionable to guests, and what counts the most. Incidentally, the best scores weren’t found here in the D.C. area; they came out of Florida markets. California performed the worst. As a restaurant owner, you benefit financially from ranking well in these two essentials. Do you have high standards for customer-facing staff? Within ambiance category, cleanliness factored prominently. Do you have cleaning checklists? More importantly, do you maintain and review those checklists? Are you fastidious about cleanliness in your restaurant? Alas, unless you offer takeout only, each time you answer “no,” your business’s bank account takes a hit due to customer absence. With a rising cost of labor and an improved job market, it gets tougher to hire and retain the best staff to address these important attributes that consumers require. Chipotle announced recently that it is paying retention bonuses. Others are using innovative thinking to solve problems, or increasing the use of technology. While D.C. still boasts some of the hottest restaurants in the country, and the Michelin stars that go with them, about three restaurants close each week here. We’re bringing 4 District Restaurant News

With these new rollouts, we’re creating a series of video trainings and frank (podcast) discussions”

Restaurants face a myriad of challenges in 2019 and 2020. Photo by Aaron Thomas.

back Eatery Pulse News DC as District Restaurant News in digital format because restaurants need real support in this region, and frankly, everywhere. We’re excited about EPN Frequency, Cafe and EPN Engage rolling out over the next two months, as well. These are additional high-impact learning and improvement tools from Washington, D.C.’s foodservice trade publisher, Eatery Pulse, as it finalizes its new five-year plan. With these new rollouts, we’re creating a series of video trainings and frank (podcast) discussions, for and with those who work inside D.C.’s restaurant scene. What are

you doing well that can help other owners of independent eateries? With EPN Frequency, our audio and podcast series, in addition to Cafe, our learning series, we’ll need collaborators and influencers along for this ride. Eatery Pulse will also be activating its consultancy and consulting partner network. Lastly, we’ve also activated our Swizzle Chill show as a marketing tool for restaurants. We hope you’ll join us on this exciting journey.

Rick Zambrano Executive Editor, Eatery Pulse Media contactrick@eaterypulse.net

Capitol Hill opening: Emilie’s from Kevin Tien By Rick Zambrano

Modern space, open design create a new canvas for Tien’s talents Emilie’s, from Chef Kevin Tien, opened to the public October 10. Tien has been busy this year: he also launched Hot Lola’s at the Ballston Quarter Market in March. This new showcase of his talent will feature large-platefocused dining, accompanied by Dim-Sumstyle small plates, carted tableside to diners. Tien plans to imprint his vision at this muchanticipated Capitol Hill restaurant.

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An expansive, open kitchen is a central piece of theater at Emilie’s. Photo by Lisa Comento.

Tien will be supported by a cut-above kitchen team. The restaurant has indicated it will import the food from local producers, farmers and ranchers, making the dining experience both sustainable and memorable for diners. The 3,313 square-foot restaurant space at the base of the Penn Eleven condominiums marks a new chapter for Tien. Co-owner and partner Sam Shoja, along with partner Arris Noble, are said to up to the task of a grand Capitol Hill opening. Tien’s new fine-dining home is an open canvas for the expression of his and his team’s culinary talent. The Swizzle Chill team attended a preview party October 3 at Emilie’s to get a glimpse of what’s to come. A modern, near-industrial feel sets the stage for the culinary talent, which was on central display in a large, open kitchen. Two bars, one in the front and one in the rear, are available for the more casual diner or imbiber, as well as for group socializing. Creative light fixtures 6 District Restaurant News

help give the space more warmth. Cement floors are also part of the modern setting. At Hot Lola’s, Tien adds a service fee to help pay workers much more than the Virginia minimum wage. Here, the Emilie’s staff appears to be in an environment that respects their talents and hard work. The kitchen ensemble displayed a seemingly-genuine camaraderie. They truly work as a collective, with Tien as the team leader. During the preview event, Tien provided the necessary direction to his team, yet also maintained a certain lightheartedness and pride. Emilie’s will likely provide diners on Capitol Hill an escape to a truly delightful culinary and hospitality experience. Emilie’s at Penn Eleven Capitol Hill, 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast, Washington, D.C. 2000 Photo center: Chef Kevin Tien is an artist. Photo by Lisa Comento.

Sustainability in the restaurant industry By Eric Nomis

Restaurant businesses can improve with, profit from achievable, customerdesired initiatives Sustainability initiatives in the restaurant are becoming more important for consumers, and potentially more profitable for restaurants. The environmental sustainability profile of a restaurant is becoming more critical, says a report by Rabobank, Sustainability in Foodservice. In previous years, consumers gave restaurants credit for a lack of unethical practices or scandals. Today, that expectation is different. Restaurants need to respond to consumers growing interest in good Earth stewardship.

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Small and medium-sized independent restaurants have an advantage in sourcing local foods. Photo by Hannah Busing.

As a way to engage consumers, restaurants with a robust sustainability program can achieve the following: • Attract customers • Improve brand perception • Increase employee engagement • Increase marketing opportunities • Improve community relations

And, from a business perspective, restaurants can expect to • Increase employee engagement • Reduce operating costs • Decrease reputational risk • Drive innovation

In terms of sourcing, restaurants are working with farmers and suppliers that are commitment to more humane treatment of animals and a reduced carbon footprint. Many consumers prefer local foods. Here,

independent restaurants have an advantage. Local sourcing is better-suited to restaurant companies with just a few restaurants. Sourcing within the local economy may help allocate more of a restaurant’s funds to regional provider businesses and support local jobs. Emilie’s, the latest grand eatery from the talented Chef Kevin Tien, has announced that it will source as many ingredients as it can from local farmers and suppliers. More consumers are interested in the humane treatment of animals and clean-label foods. As a result, with regard to meats, sustainability adoption can mean providing chickens raised without antibiotics. Also, to get more sustainability credit with consumers, restaurants can feature dishes with cage-free eggs. Grassfed beef on menus is also trending. These are important initiatives that reflect good animal stewardship and that customers care about.

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Consumers expect restaurants to prioritize sustainability initiatives in menu development. Photo by Louis Hansel.

Sustainability in design is an initiative restaurants are embracing and should become part of the planning of every new restaurant. Furthermore, independent restaurants can retrofit many of these ideas. According to Rabobank, “Reducing operating costs while having a positive environmental impact ought to be a major driver for restaurants to improve their energy consumption. Some obvious efficiency opportunities include LED lighting retrofits, Energy Star/efficient appliance upgrades, motion sensors, low-flow water fixtures, rainwater harvesting, and upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.” LEED certification is an initiative that larger chains have been moving the needle on. Wendy’s, for example, has challenged to increase the efficiency of its buildings by 20 percent by the year 2025. Yum Brands, parent of KFC and Taco Bell, has built more than 30 LEED-certified buildings around the globe, notes Rabobank. According to D.C. Refined, Urbana in Dupont Circle is a restaurant that should be spotlighted for its sustainable practices: “They recently started using a food waste technology called the Bio-Digester, which converts food scraps 10 District Restaurant News

into grey wastewater that is then safely transported for treatment via existing drain systems; they are the first D.C. restaurant to use this new food waste technology. In addition, the restaurant uses nearly 100 percent of its rooftop vegetables for its chef tasting table menu, known as Cichetti at Ubana. Another way to operate more sustainable restaurants is to reduce the carbon footprint of the restaurant. What are practices that use fossil-fuel, pollute the environment or increase non-compostable waste? Restaurants that deliver their own food can use bike couriers or sign on to services that hire bicycle couriers. Can restaurants cut down on the number of deliveries from suppliers each week? “Some restaurants use recycled cooking oil for biodiesel for their delivery fleet,” notes the Robabank report. “ Newer generations of food trucks run on renewable energy and can be certified as Zero-Emission Vehicles.” There’s a lot to consider and strategize in this realm. Rabobank also illustrates ways restaurants can reduce food waste and use packaging to become more eco-friendly. But those are additional ideas we’ll cover in our next issue.

What to expect in 2020 By Eric Nomis

Pentallect sales outlook: What restaurant owners will face in 2020

A report by Pentallect, a top foodservice consulting firm, forecasts sales in 2020 to grow about 3.0 percent. Sales growth represents total sales, including comparable sales (same stores) and the effect of new stores. The consultancy believes that the adverse impacts that have been hampering the restaurant industry will continue into next year. These include economic factors, increased labor costs, real estate transformation, decline of once-leading foodservice providers, delivery’s dilutive effects on profit, and changing demographics. District Restaurant News 11

Restaurant operators face several headwinds next year. Photo by Piotr Chrobot.

According to Chicago-based Pentallect, economic concerns are weighing heavily on the consumer. Concern over trade, tariff, tax, and fiscal policies may lead to a downturn. The University of Michigan’s sentiment index rose to 93.2 in September after a depressing drop to 89.8 in August, according to Bloomberg. A third of respondents are concerned about tariffs. And as for inflation, consumer prices are expected to rise 2.8 percent vs. the 2.7 percent projected the prior month. Fewer respondents than before envisioned wages rising over the coming year. The sum of these concerns will make it harder for restaurants to fill seats. This is one of the reasons Pentallect is forecasting 3.0 percent growth, mostly attributed to price increases, compared to 3.5 percent they projected for 2019. Labor and turnover costs will hurt restaurants’ bottom lines, and the response will impact customers and sales in turn. Wage pressures loom large: they are “forcing operators and retailers to raise prices in a price-sensitive environment where affordability (of restaurant meals) is a growing problem for many consumers,” said the report. 12 District Restaurant News

Restaurateurs face challenges in managing labor, occupancy costs Pentallect notes that restaurants are turning to technology for answers. Robots, kiosk and self-service style systems are part of this trend. With time, more of these technologies should become more widely available. Compared to independents, large restaurant chains have more influence and capital to invest. As an example, McDonald’s acquired conversational technology ordering company Apprente this year to spur natural ordering via technology and build McTech Labs, a new division. Chipotle turned to old-fashioned incentives and bonuses this year, paying out $700K in performance-linked retention bonuses. Occupancy costs should continue to rise, as part of a national trend. According to a market outlook report by Lee Associates, asking retail rents have increased 2.2 percent this year to $17.20 per square foot (psf). Multi-faceted real estate services giant CBRE confirmed rents have been increasing on both a quarterly and annual basis. Urbanization adds to this

NEXT ISSUE: WINTER 2020 2020 Industry Forecast, Hot Beverages, Design Cues, Next-gen Marketing, Pricing Strategies, Catering Technology

dilemma, says Pentallect. Also, developers that aren’t innovating or are unable to rescue depleted suburban malls will contribute to a downward impact on traffic for nearby and tenant-restaurants. Restaurant delivery is making headlines daily and is touted as a golden opportunity. However, not all restaurants can play well in the delivery game. It comes with high fees, typically 20 to 30 percent, so unless the majority of a restaurant’s delivery orders come from new customers, profits may take a hit. This profit dilution is a result of existing customers switching to third-party app ordering and the high fees that come with it. Restaurateurs who make money in this milieu deploy a comprehensive strategy that addresses how to balance delivery with staying profitable. Many restaurant owners won’t fully contemplate or understand this until it’s too late. Satisfying customers in a delivery setting is not easy. Execution, including packaging (and associated costs) and customer satisfaction is key, Pentallect notes that some restaurants may exit the third-party delivery game altogether in 2020.

restaurant’s sales. A variety of restaurant operators count on large groups of diners to fill seats. This has been changing over the last few years. Millennials will be 40 percent of the consumer demographic next year, according to many reports. Through 2020, Millennials represented about 80 percent of the growth of one- or two-person households, according to L.E.K. Consulting in its Executive Insights report (Volume XVIII, Issue 14). This represents a growth of these households of 77 percent since 1980. In the Washington, D.C. market, restaurateurs are responding by leveraging their small squarefoot space, designing new spaces with takeout windows and separate space for delivery and pick-up. Fast casual 3.0, or polished fast casual, is a development blooming in the nation’s capital. (See story on page 14).

Smaller families are also a hit to many a District Restaurant News 13

Why D.C.’s Chiko is more than a restaurant —it’s a trend ‘Chinese-Korean Alliance’ will wokfry the future of restaurant food By Rick Zambrano

“Chef-inspired concept” is a phrase that many inside the restaurant industry may want to abolish in 2019. How about chef-driven or chef-managed? These appear to have more meaning and purpose. To that point, enter Chiko (Chai-Koh), a three-unit chain born and bred in Washington, D.C, and (quietly) expanding nationally. Chiko is not only a restaurant, it’s a trend. And it’s growing into a chain, with several locations now open: two in D.C. and a third in Encinitas, Calif. Chiko combines Chinese and Korean dishes and flavors, calling itself a Modern Chinese-Korean restaurant. In the building of trends, not just restaurants, Chiko has been put forward as an example of a new type of eatery. Polished fast casuals may be what the industry hopes will solve a myriad of economic problems. (As background in this chronology, fast-casual 1.0 were Chipotle and Panera Bread, 1.2 were Cava and sweetgreen, and 2.0 was Eatsa, with its food-cubbie pick-up and kiosk ordering.) A trend report by international food consultancy Baum + Whiteman named Chiko as an example of 14 District Restaurant News

an elevated, polished quick-service concept with no (artificial) price barriers. Additional fast-casual 3.0 concepts have been found in Manhattan and Oakland, Calif. For those who are surrounded by food businesses, Chiko is different. According to a trendologist, Chiko is the next step up in fast-casual evolution: a place where you can get chef-driven (not chef-inspired or contrived) food with minimal wait time. Said the Baum + Whiteman report, “Expect generally to be jostled by delivery boys and carryout customers hurrying for the door… because 50 percent (or more) of these places’ food is consumed off the premises.” Baum + Whiteman suggests that the economics of a fun, chef-driven fast-casual concept with minimal space because of digital takeout and delivery orders makes perfect sense. Millennials and Gen Z are taking their food to go. For those younger adults who have lived an entire lifetime with fast casuals like Panera Bread, Au Bon Pain and Chipotle, Chiko is the

next restaurant evolution for their generation. Millennials and Gen Z consumers are quasi- or full-digital natives, respectively. For them, quickservice settings with access to chef-driven, finedining caliber cuisine is the “next big thing.”

Polished fast-casual concepts that offer global cuisine will need to be authentic yet not so adventurous as to scare away customers. Chefs help ground the cuisine and keep the restaurants cozy and approachable.

Chef-driven and chef-operated concepts can rework space, yet still offer delicious food, thus improving the economics of restaurants that have been costly to build and operate. Fastcasual 3.0 restaurants have the opportunity to make greater profits as they rethink small spaces and augment takeout/delivery, keep chef-driven menus, add a little booze for good measure, and offer limited hours, but package much into those few hours. It’s not a slam-dunk by any means, as these concepts can pay up to 30 percent off the top to have third-party delivery companies dispatch food to customers. Chiko’s formula is the basis of what can make these fast-casual 3.0 concepts successful:

Chiko’s background

• Offering booze: Why not? Those who want the experiential may want to indulge beyond the great chef-driven food. • Reconfigured space for off-premises business: Fast casual 3.0 is breaking with the traditional notion of “polished.” And less space means less expensive. Half the customers may linger for a great, chef-driven meal and spirits. The other half will take food to go or opt for delivery. As prominent restaurant chains target 30 percent to 40 percent of sales deriving from off-premises business, this forwardlooking model makes sound business sense. Expect to see more space added for takeout and delivery business and for the experiential. At Chiko Dupont, there is a chef’s counter for chef-driven meals and experiences, while a dedicated window on a different floor is used for off-premises orders. • No (artificial) price barrier. Polished fast-casual concepts price their chef-driven menus at a price the market will bear. Customers expect freshly-prepared food with culinary dedication and skill. They’ll have a choice between ticketed dinners, tasting tables (and counters) and what’s on the weekly menu in quick fashion, and they’re willing to pay for it. In fast casual 3.0, the difference between $15 and $35 (or more) average tickets translates into more complex cuisine, access to “fine-dining-like” meals and variety in trendy food and drink selections.

Chiko’s founding partners are Scott Drewno, Danny Lee and Drew Kim, of Matchbox fame. Last year, Kim was dispatched to open the West Coast restaurant. Drewno cut his culinary teeth at The Source by Wolfgang Puck and other top destinations, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Vong and Stephen Hansen’s Ruby Foo’s. Together, the partners form the Fried Rice Collective. Lee needs no introduction: He was brought up in his family’s food businesses in Metro D.C., including restaurant Charlie Chiang Kwai, where he learned the management side of the food business. His mother opened the Mandu restaurants, and played a significant role in his restaurant training. Mandu has been a long running popular Korean restaurant. Lee has also worked at Oceanaire. In August, Danny Lee and the Fried Rice Collective opened a Korean pub, Anju, during winter 2019, according to Washingtonian Magazine.

Orange Chicken. Photo by Chiko.

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Kim was a partner at Matchbox Restaurant Group, which became a multi-unit restaurant company with the opening of Ted’s Bulletin. Chiko is Kim’s renaissance after closing his own chapter with and with his co-founding partners there. Matchbox went on to be guided by restaurant management company Thompson Hospitality, after it invested a major stake in the company in July. Kim’s expertise in branding and entrepreneurship should serve Chiko well, as the chain looks to expand methodically outside of the D.C. region to strike a unique palette wherever it goes. By operating concurrently on the West and East Coasts, the restaurant partners are taking a page from chains that D.C. residents know all too well: Cava and sweetgreen. Urban enclaves on both coasts are ideal testing grounds, and provide plenty of finicky diners, today’s version of the “taste panel.”

A respect for provenance and sustainability; a nod to family and community. “The world is changing more and more and people care about how their animals are being treated—where their food is grown, and who the farmer is,” said Drewno at MetroCooking DC, a popular cooking and demonstration show series that comes to D.C. annually. “We’re kind of active with the James Beard Foundation… I’ve sat on some of their panels on traceability and sustainability.” Increasingly, restaurants are approaching ingredients with respect, and chefs can drive that forward. Chefs and entrepreneurs are responding to consumers’ desire to want more from their food. MetroCooking DC wasn’t just the stage for a cooking demonstration, but rather a representation of a much larger stage that Chiko’s partners are headed for. Chefs Lee and Drewno are very personable and family-oriented culinary visionaries. Part of these infectious personality traits are passed on to the crew and culture of Chiko, and hopefully will be maintained as the chain grows beyond its three restaurant units. There’s no shortage of talent in the nation’s capital and those who are recognized are the best of the best.

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Top: Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan participated as guest chefs in a Chiko After Dark event. Bottom: Chiko opens in Encinitas, Calif. Photos by Chiko.

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) and Events DC, the sports and entertainment authority for the city, host the RAMMYS and pay tribute to the culinary and entrepreneurial professionals in the local industry. Chiko received a RAMMYS Best New Restaurant Award last year in D.C. “I’m dedicating this to all the women in my life,” said Scott Drewno,one of the three partners that are part of this growing enterprise, during his acceptance speech. The RAMMYS are D.C.’s

restaurant excellence awards and a great honor, since the city is now an established culinary and foodie destination. Sister media outlet, Swizzle Chill TV, had the opportunity to interview Chiko’s Drewno, as well as other winners, at the RAMMYS 2019. “It’s casual, fun and funky,” said Drewno of the then-one-year chef-driven concept. “We wanted to form a fun, kind of family-oriented company (Chiko’s parent, Fried Rice Collective). We decided to make the first step into it—the three of us—with Chiko.” Chiko was also a semifinalist for the Best Restaurant Award in 2018 from the James Beard Foundation.

Are two cuisines better than one? By combining Korean and Chinese cuisine, Chiko is taking the best of comfort food and drizzling it with adventure. Hip, upscale Korean concepts are a trend. Consumers in D.C. and beyond are eager to be grounded in their egg rolls, but also ready to try something new and exciting. In today’s socio-economic climate, they want both the familiar and adventure. That’s why regional American cooking is back in. That’s why plant-based proteins now emulate the meat consumers grew up with, even as they try to shake loose of so many carnivorous meals. The restaurant industry is running the gauntlet with a constantly maturing consumer palate, with increasingly complex, and are driven by several forces at once, including financial, political, socio-economic, and transparency and sustainability goals. Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides and a top forensic trendologist in the country, maintains that consumers are not feeling particularly grounded or confident. This is why Chiko’s emergence is so timely, and its popularity and rise will be determined by a “perfect storm.” The concept strikes a delicate balance between food that is tasty, served quickly, feels comforting, and is priced reasonably. It’s challenging to deliver such a product in a diverse and eclectic city like D.C., but Chiko does it well. In culinary and industry circles, fusion was a bad word for a few years. Some chefs

experimented too much with combinations that lacked the authenticity that global cuisine requires. The Chiko partners are balancing adventuresome Korean flavors with the comforting, familiar dishes and textures of Chinese food. They have found a formula years in the making that is a gateway to sophisticated dining markets. The timing appears right to take Chiko to the next level. With no (artificial) price barrier, dishes on the menu range from $8 to $18. A customer could easily spend $50 to $100, and that’s the point. Chiko is a fast-casual concept that’s not really that fast casual in the conventional sense. Here we use fast casual 3.0 and “polished fast casual” as a label for this new breed of restaurants. While this three-unit chain may seem less fast casual at first, perhaps the categorization of restaurant chains has become outdated as restaurant concepts have evolved both in the fast-casual segment and outside of it. As a nod to its culinary cloth, Chiko also offers counter service by hard-to-snag reservations, which gives guests access to a chef’s tasting menu. As part of its daily dining service, the modern Chinese-Korean concept also has a set menu that is tweaked seasonally. The Crispy Chicken Springrolls appear to be a hit. They run $9 and are served with Chinese mustard dipping sauce. Rib Eye & Rice Cakes will run $18, but with bulgogi, baby carrots and some nice shitake mushrooms on the plate, who cares? It is not likely that even the most restrained customers would be able to stop at just one Pork and Kimchi Potsticker.

A focus on the experiential Chiko’s food will also be headed to Capital One Arena. Said the Washington City Paper, “The Fried Rice Collective is excited to announce that CHIKO will be landing at Capital One Arena starting January 18th. Serving our Korean fried chicken wings, crispy spring roll, and the bulgogi hoagie. We look forward to cooking and cheering alongside you.” Chiko hosts a nearmonthly series, called “Chiko After Dark.” It’s a fun evening, with access to food from guest chefs and cameos by the culinary visionaries of the city. This year’s events have included local District Restaurant News 17



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chefs, such as Gerald Addison, Chris Morgan (Maydan and Compass Rose), Boston’s Jamie Bissonnette, and Adam Greenberg and Brandon Langley from the Coconut Club. D.C. is a great breeding ground for restaurant chains, with some great ones having launched here. Chiko’s price points are much higher, but with its chef-driven food and inclusion of experiential, many markets should be open to this type of concept. Chiko opened its newest restaurant in Dupont Circle on Valentine’s Day. It will surely find a passionate and cultlike following there as well. The Dupont Circle neighborhood is also home to a plethora of hotels and tourist activity, ignited fully in the spring and summer. The new outlet on P Street, which has a dedicated takeout window, will have its own beat and add to the existing chorus of evening activity. Let’s see where Chiko’s next moves will take it. Seasonal Shrimp & Grits. Photo by Chiko.



Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW)


22: RAMW Marketing Seminar on Influencers, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

5: Food Safety Manager Class, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

23: Food Safety Manager, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

19: Food Safety Manager Class, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

26: Broccoli City Food & Groves D.C., 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. 28: Food Safety Super Sale Class, Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Business and Foodservice

Business and Foodservice

4: Startup with Financial Success, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (AED)

20: Kitchens on the Block at Mess Hall, 10:45 a.m.

5: Advertising on Social Media, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.(SCORE)

23: Brunch and Business, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (AED)

7: Launch Celebration of EPN Cafe Business Improvement Video Series (Eatery Pulse, online)

24: Writing a Winning Business Plan, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (SCORE) 25: Build Your Website With Constant Contact 31: Finance 101 for Startups, Sponsored by HSBC, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (SCORE)

19: Learn to Create a Marketing Plan, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (SCORE)

Source: AED (Arlington Economic Development), RAMW, SCORE

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CREATING EXCITEMENT FOR GUESTS Pop-ups, like the Toh Roong dinners at Toki Underground, drive interest for customers and provide an exciting change to the menu.

Ticketed dinner events allow you to collect in advance and predict & boost business on slower nights during the month.

Chef collaborations, including those at Gravitas and Chiko, put your restaurant in a prominent place on people’s calendars.

Seasonal menus aren’t a waste of time—they’re deployed by large chains successfully every quarter. Introduce at least one new dish each month and synchronize rollouts with the seasonal calendar.

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White Miso Tom Yum Goong with Shrimp. Photo by Toh Roong pop-up at Toki Underground.



STRATEGIC MARKETING Embrace strategic marketing rather than random marketing plans.

Segment your audiences on email so that the right people receive the right messages and offers.

Incorporate local store marketing: Your closest marketers and business allies are often your best fans.

Are you posting menus or conducting menu marketing?

Social Media is everything these days: Do you have a plan and influencer?

Photo by Austin Distel.

Sponsored content box by arel7 restaurant consulting

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RESTAURANT OFF-PREMISES BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY • A report by Technomic, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, sheds light on the opportunities in off-premises business.


• Restaurants benefit from serving the consumer where they are. Drivethru, catering, delivery, and takeout are great ways to build incremental business.

• 35 percent of customers say that ordering on third-party app if faster than other alternatives. • Consumers want more convenience than restaurants can provide.




% of consumers that use




% of operators that offer




Source: National Restaurant Association and Technomic

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Delivery is fast-rising. Photo by Brett Jordan.

The first recorded pizzeria, Da Pietro in Naples, was founded in 1760. The inexpensive street food fed many of the dock workers in those days. The basic toppings consisted of tomatoes, cheese, olive oil, anchovies and garlic. In modern times, pizza is a favorite food throughout the United States. Pizza has come a long way since its days as a flatbread street food that was folded up to eat. Washington, D.C. is home to a variety of unique pizza restaurants, from authentic pizzerias to local chains. In this article, we feature three wellestablished Washington, D.C. pizza spots.

Pizza trending By Lisa Comento

Pizzeria Paradiso Chef/Owner Ruth Gresser opened the first Pizzeria Paradiso in DuPont in November 1991. There are now five locations throughout D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Gresser’s initial inspiration was to create an enjoyable space for her guests. She and her team have built and strong foundation over the years and it shows. When the DuPont location opened, on the first floor inside a converted townhouse, it was so small that the closet held both their office and the ice machine. Each time they made a phone call they had to unplug the ice machine. One other fun fact about Pizzeria Paradiso is when young children would leave their toys behind after dining the staff would use them to decorate the restaurant. Gresser stresses, “the importance of being a part of the larger community, supporting local non-profits focusing primarily on the arts and women’s issues. Currently, we are engaged in a year-long initiative called the United States of Pizza which focuses on women’s leadership,” she said about one of the organizations they represent. One element that makes Pizzeria Paradiso stand out from the other pizzerias is their broad selection of independent craft beers. Customers can always count on trying something unique to pair with their pizza.

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All-Purpose Pizzeria is an innovator. Photo by All-Purpose.

They offer a delicious variety of pizzas from traditional Neapolitan-style to Di Mare with shrimp and mussels. Guests look forward to the weekly pizza, salad and beer specials.

All-Purpose Pizzeria Chef/Owner Michael Friedman of All-Purpose Shaw opened his first location in Spring 2016 and his second at the Capitol Riverfront in Spring 2018. He is also the chef and owner of The Red Hen located in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, open since 2014. “All-Purpose is a love letter to my youth growing up in New York and New Jersey, and what better way to convey that than deck oven-style pizza?” Friedman said about what inspired him to open All-Purpose. He grew up in Westfield, New Jersey eating New York-style pizza. His first professional cooking opportunity was as a prep cook with Mon Ami Gabi. Shortly thereafter his passion for cooking led him to enroll in the Culinary

Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduating at the top of his CIA class, Friedman worked for Jose Andres at Zaytinya for two years. He expanded his culinary knowledge by traveling abroad, eating his way through Italy, Greece, Turkey and North Africa. He continued his culinary education by working at restaurants in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York. Friedman returned to D.C. as executive sous chef of Proof under the tutelage of Executive Chef Haidar Karoum. In 2017, Friedman was recognized as a James Beard Award semifinalist. The success of his Shaw location inspired him to open his second All-Purpose location at the Riverfront. On the menu, he offers antipasti, classic Italian American dishes and deck oven-fired pizzas. “Autumn is by far my favorite season and that definitely carries over to the menus,” Friedman said about the upcoming menu for the fall. “I’m getting jazzed about prosciutto Photo center: Chef Mike Friedman of All-Purpose Shaw.

24 District Restaurant News

san Daniele with creme fraiche, horseradish, green apple and aged balsamic vinegar. Expect spaghetti squash with lemon, brown butter and sage. Look out for the Emilia pizza with parmesan fonduta, montasio, wild mushrooms, sweet onion & thyme.”

Stellina Pizzeria Stellina Pizzeria is the popular new kid on the block this year since opening in April. Owners Antonio Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini have been friends for over ten years, and are no strangers to the D.C. food scene. Matarazzo was the founder and owner Lupe Verde on 14th Street where Venini was the head chef. The pizzeria is located in the Union Market District that seems to have exploded overnight with scores of restaurants like St. Anselm and Bidwell run by well-known local chefs. “The neighborhood is helping out a lot and the locals have been very supportive,”

Matarazzo said about how the neighborhood has embraced their pizzeria. Matarazzo is from Avellino, Italy located in the Campania region near Naples. Venini is from Como located in the Lombardy region near Milan. They do a masterful job of including dishes and flavors from their respective regions on their menu. Their pizzeria is lovingly named after Matarazzo’s daughter, Stella. One important facet of preparing an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza is the oven used to cook it. Stellina’s purchased a stunning handcrafted Italian brick oven by Marra Forni. The brick oven company is owned by two native Italian brothers and based in Beltsville, MD. The oven can cook the pizzas in two minutes flat. Stellina Pizzeria was recently named as a Michelin Bib-Gourmand restaurant and they are beyond proud to be recognized.

(From left to right) Owners Antonio Matarazzo and Chef Matteo Venini. Photo by Stellina Pizzeria.

District Restaurant News 25

Off-premises business offers incredible opportunity Technomic releases eye-opening research report in partnership with the National Restaurant Association By Christina Perez

26 District Restaurant News

Restaurant off-premises is heating up, but third party is not the only game in town. Delivery, takeout and catering are other components of off-premises business that restaurants can grow to continue to take market share and increase revenues. Restaurant chains are strategizing the best path forward for their businesses and customers, adopting an all-in approach to third party or hybrid models where they deliver food ordered on third-party apps themselves.

Insightful off-premises report from Technomic, National Restaurant Association A new report from consulting firm Technomic, Harnessing Technology to Drive Off-Premises Sales, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, provides some insights. Did you know that 92 percent of consumers say they use the drive thru at least once per month? The figure for takeout is 90 percent. And 79 percent of consumers are using restaurant delivery at least once per month. Moreover, 53 percent of consumers are using third-party restaurant delivery. The Chicago-based foodservice consultancy also found that 39 percent of consumers say they are using the drive-thru more than last year and that more than a third of consumers surveyed are utilizing restaurant delivery more than last year. That’s an amazing opportunity for restaurants, provided delivery business is incremental and not just profit-dilutive. Compared to last year, a total of 29 percent are using takeout more often. More than a third of consumers say that ordering in a restaurant website app allows them to customize their orders more easily. However, 35 percent also say that ordering on a third-party app is faster than the alternatives. Surprisingly, a third of consumers say that many of their restaurants don’t have ordering capabilities.

Can restaurants respond to consumer preferences? With regard to emerging technologies, more consumers use a digital assistant for ordering

Delivery, along with takeout, is a growing trend. Photo by Uber Eats.

food than text—11 percent compared to 8 percent. Twenty-two percent use a kiosk. This is part of the reason restaurant chains are investing in voice-assisted technologies, conversational ordering and kiosk and tablet-based ordering devices. A significant development recently was McDonald’s investment in Apprente, a conversational ordering company, and its launch of McTech Labs. Independent restaurants and chains alike can leverage technology and lever their operations. And restaurants are responding. Seventy-eight percent of restaurant operators say that offpremises programs are a strategic imperative. NInety-three percent offer takeout options, but only a little more than half offer catering. There are certainly big opportunities here. There’s a significant disconnect between what restaurant operators are offering currently, and what consumers desire and use every month. (See our trend page 22 for the eye-opening stats.) Restaurants will benefit by increasing the adoption of technology to attract more business—the business of customers seeking convenience in off-premises dining. To view the report, navigate to: https://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/Research/ research_offpremises_201910 Off-premises dining is an ongoing District Restaurant News series. District Restaurant News 27




Photo: Barley Mac, Rosslyn, Va. Photo by Swizzle Chill.

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Video embed: RAMMYS 2019 Award Ceremony and Gala, featuring the Swizzle Chill TV team’s interview of winners. District Restaurant News 29

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