July 4th weekend presents a lot of opportunities for the perfect staycation, especially since the 4th itself is a "school night," with many of us having to be at work early the next morning. This beautiful fireworks photo above was from a year ago. I shot it from the rooftop of the then Capella/now Rosewood Hotel, where they host an annual fireworks party, with cocktails, barbecue, a swimming pool. Its very expensive, at $110 per person, but includes all you can eat and drink....and the view and the pool, plus in-house valet parking.
A much less -- actually free -- alternative is to watch the fireworks from the wonderful Georgetown Waterfront Park that spans the Potomac River from 27th Street to Key Bridge. The best views are from closer to Key Bridge, and there is a wonderful expanse of well-maintained lawn for picnic blankets. It is quieter, less-congested, and, frankly, less security-intense than the National Mall. The Washington Harbor complex has a large parking garage, and there's street parking, but the street parking goes fast.
Do stop by Georgetown Cupcake for their patriotic treats - good for your waterfront picnic, good to take him, good to eat there. Half a block over is Good Stuff Eatery, if you are hankering for an all-American meal of a hamburger, french fries and a milk shake.
Also down at the waterfront are some dining options. Again pricey, but if you want to enjoy delicious pasta and seafood while watching the skyline, there's Fiola Mare. That's where I shot this pic a couple of years ago. We really only had to stand up at our table to get the view of the fireworks.
Do remember to dress up the dog for the occasion!
So timely for the campaign season, Kate Andersen Brower visited The Q&A Cafe to talk about her book, "First Women." For those inside our outside the Beltway, it is fascinating to hear what she learned about behind the scenes at the White House and the lives of modern First Ladies. Please give it a watch.
It's not so long ago that the Rosewood (then Capella) hotel rooftop was off limits to all but an elite few. Now, with the new ownership, it's come one, come all. Apparently. I received this inclusive invitation from Rosewood, and it appears to be open to you and you and you and you:
Hope all is well! I’m writing to share the news that Rosewood Washington, D.C., in partnership with Lululemon and Georgetown Yoga, is hosting Yoga on the Roof, a complimentary, community sunrise yoga event on Saturday, July 2nd at 8:00 AM.
Guests and locals alike are invited to the hotel’s newly opened Rooftop Bar & Lounge to relax and recharge during an hour-long, revitalizing vinyasa-based flow session led by Jessica Sandhu, a seasoned Georgetown yoga instructor.
I would say bring the snorkel and flippers on the off chance you can slide into the lovely pool after some hot yoga.
You may remember Nathans this way, the bar: Brace yourselves for what it looks like today, as a construction crew transforms it from its 40 years as Nathans into a new life as an Under Armour store on the main floor, a cigar bar in the basement, and two condo apartments upstairs.
Here's how it looked this morning. The first photo is the bar, looking front to back. The old bar would have been to the left, in front of the windows (yes windows, because way back in the last century it was a stand alone building. The dining room occupied a separate building, constructed later than the bar building, and the kitchen was yet a 3rd building. (In fact, we paid property tax to three separate addresses!) In this photo below, the windows facing the street would be to the right, and the faux mantel in the back, and the kitchen, too.
And the new stairs headed down to the basement and future cigar bar, which is being dug down twice as deep as it was before.
Friends and family of Yolande Betbeze Fox sat in her garden, nibbled on canapés from a buffet in her dining room, gathered round her piano in the drawing room and remembered her with affection and song on Saturday night at her home on N Street. The party was hosted by her daughter, a last party, really, as the house officially goes on the market this week with a price tag of just a breath under $10 million. The mansion is a one of a kind for Georgetown, and Washington, and comes with historic provenance: it is the house Jackie Kennedy called home for a short while after moving out of the White House after the assassination of JFK.
There will be a "yard sale" of sorts -- an elegant yard sale -- of many of the possessions in the house, which may or may not include the Fragonard-inspired dining room panels that were made for Billy Rose, depicting some of his Hollywood friends. There's a Diego Rivera, and a Chagall, also. Thus, not an every day yard sale.
But as for the party, Tom Vogt played standards, bringing the room back for an evening to as it so often was when Yolande entertained. Guests sat round the piano or out on the terrace by the bar, sipping champagne or cocktails, enjoying deviled eggs, finger sandwiches of smoked salmon, cucumber, chicken salad, egg salad, shrimp cocktail, crudite, and desserts that included coconut cake and pralines. Yolande was from Alabama, thus the pralines, and family members came up from Alabama for the occasion.
So much good conversation. I had the pleasure of sitting with a group who knew their Georgetown grande dames and who told affectionate and fascinating stories about the group that included Susan Mary Alsop, Pamela Harriman, Katharine Graham, Evangeline Bruce, and of course, Yolande. Its interesting. They all lived within blocks of each other. Now all of them gone.
Buy Julia Reed's"South," prepare a canapé or two from a recipe in the book, make up a pitcher "Pink Perfection" or Sangria w/ an added shot of Vodka ... and then watch. Or watch first and then do the rest, but...watch. It was a fun time when Julia made her encore appearance at The Q&A Cafe, this time at our annual road trip to Tudor Place Museum, on the lawn, under a very toasty transparent tent.
Julia was just one of the seven interesting guests who filled our winter/spring calendar. More to come this summer, and the 15th anniversary in October.
Word on the street is that the Georgetown mansion that was former First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s post-White House home is on the market for a cool $10 million. Not a crazy amount in these times of outlandish prices for notable real estate. This one brings real history with it, too, as it is the home Jackie bought for herself and her children after the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy.The handsome house easily is Georgetown’s (and perhaps Washington’s) most notable trophy house, with bragging rights that best the next three, each the home of a famous Washington grand dame: Katharine Graham’s 2920 R Street home, the 3038 N Street home of Pamela Harriman, and the 34th Street mansion (with ballroom) that belonged to Evangeline Bruce. Their sale prices were in the millions, but none for a price as high as $10 million. The sellers are the heirs of Yolande Betbeze Fox, who lived in the house for decades, until her death earlier this year.
And why do you want to jump on this? There aren’t many pieces of real estate left with this kind of solid Kennedy provenance. Also, it is a fine house with good bone structure. Classic. Will it need a makeover, and the ordeal of approvals with the Old Georgetown Board? Yes. But when buying history, what’s $20 million (half for the house, half for the redo) and some red tape? For more about Yolande, Jackie and the colorful story of the house, please read this.
For more about Jackie, and other modern First Ladies, please join us at The Q&A Cafe tomorrow, when the guest is Kate Andersen Brower, author of the bestseller "First Women," an informed and alarming behind the scenes look at life in the East Wing of the White House. Noon. The George Town Club. Everyone is welcomed. $35 for full lunch. Reservations: 202-333-9330.
We'll take a look back at recent First Ladies, but we'll also explore the future: what if the current presidential campaign lands a man, Bill Clinton, in the role of First Spouse, and boss of the White House east wing? But also, what to expect from Melania Trump or Jane Sanders, should their husbands win the '16 election.
Having read the book I can assure you this is a lunch you'll want to make. At times alarming, at times disarming, and at times sad, First Women reads like the script for Real Housewives of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
When: Friday, June 3
What time: Noon
Where: The George Town Club (you don't have to be a member, open to all) 1530 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Fee: $35, including full lunch and soft beverages, tax and tip.
Read some reviews of First Women.
Removing the velvet rope barrier to the rooftop is just one of the "initial small changes" planned for the hotel by Rosewood, who bought it from Capella. "We've made a decision to open the Rooftop Bar & Lounge to the public” said an executive with the hotel in an email message. “Rosewood is all about 'A Sense of Place' in innovative and memorable ways and I can’t think of a better way to welcome our neighbors and guests this summer than to the Rooftop Bar & Lounge for a true Rosewood experience, With its panoramic view of the city’s skyline, and now offering a limited lunch and dinner menu created by our Grill Room executive chef Frank Ruta, it’s the perfect place for an authentic live-like-a-local experience. We’re also offering the Rooftop for private gatherings for ten to 110 guests.”
Sharp-eyed restaurant critics will notice in particular the mention of their fave, Frank Ruta. I read that, and they will, too, as the new owners getting behind the relatively new chef and perhaps making life even better for him.
When District Doughnut opens in Cady's Alley in several days it will more or less be a pop--up, and an opportunity for Georgetowners to experience the delicious bakery treats that draw lines of customers to the shop on Barracks Row. I've been a fan of DD since I reported on their opening for Washingtonian. And in my last office job, on Dupont Circle, DD delivered an assortment of doughnuts every Friday, which certainly improved staff morale on TGIF mornings. (On Mondays we got Bullfrog Bagels!)
Above is the mother ship, the first brick and mortar District Doughnut across from the Marine Barracks. My advice: shed a pound or two now so you can try all their flavors. My fave is the brown butter (centered in the photo above).
Here's hoping the pop-up will lead to a permanent space. This all comes out of a collaboration with Anthony Lanier and his son, Philipe, working with owner Greg Menna and his family, and colleague Will Hand.
Here is the May issue of Washingtonian Magazine, with the latest episode of "Behind The Scenes," a feature I started doing for them back in 2011. It is one of the mag's most prominent photo features -- a two page spread of a single image. The premise is it has to be someplace the public cannot typically go, or that is off-limits in general, in some cases even top secret. In the process of producing the feature, we've been to some amazing places. Below is inside the private, appoint-only, "play house" of porcelain designer Anna Weatherley. It's in Roslyn!
There have been so many incredible BTS, and I've enjoyed working on each one. It is just about the best possible local media assignment in Washington. The places I've been, the things I've seen! Most often working with architectural photographer Dan Chung. We're a good team. Here he is, capturing some Maryland crabs.
The various BTS include the bowels of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where the money is made; the conservation lab at the National Archives; the elaborate Smithsonian storage warehouse where artifacts were being collected for the new African American museum; the tiny studio at Fort Belvoir where the presidential seal is hand made and hand painted; the private dining room of Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State; the subterranean lab at NIH where the deadliest viruses are incubated; the lockers of the Washington Nationals and the Washington Redskins; a legal DC marijuana grow house; the sewing, linen and flower room at Susan Gage Caterers; inside Potomac Floral, the wholesale florist that provides the blooms for the White House; the secret FBI facility in Sterling VA, where deadly spent IED's are catalogued and stored; Joe Biden's ceremonial office at the EEOB; the vault of the Folger Shakespeare Library; the vault at Mount Vernon (wait till you see the June issue!), the Naval Warfare Research Center's amazing, underground canal where model warships are tested; the launch facility at Wallops Island; the fox hounds of the Potomac Hunt; a wholesale crab operation on the Eastern Shore.
Washingtonian has aggregated a lot of them at one link. So, give them a look. I think they should be a book or a calendar -- so many amazing places from around our local area. Here's the link: Behind The Scenes. Please let me know what you think, or if you have an idea for a BTS. We love good ideas. For every BTS that makes it into print, I scout about 4-5 contenders. It takes a lot of leg work, time, but most of all good ideas.
Overall, though, I am very proud of this bit of work, and grateful for the agreeable collaboration I enjoy with Dan.
This is an open letter to all the very nice and well-meaning people who have written to, stopped me on the street or otherwise contacted me regarding the lifting of the Georgetown liquor license moratorium, supposedly paving the way to a new era of fine food and wine.(And, they hope, a reopening of Nathans, but, sorry, not going to happen). I would like, just as so many others, to see this development lead to Georgetown relcaiming its place in the Washington restaurant scene. It's not illogical. It was the restaurant go-to neighborhood and no so long ago.
What's needed is for someone to be designated as a restaurant "wrangler," an individual connected to one of the village's many hierarchies -- and there are many -- who has a singular mandate to get immerse in what's happening with this vital industry that is thriving in other parts of town; to know the city's chefs, the city's culinary entrepreneurs, the developers, the money, and woo them to Georgetown. To also make landlords face reality and cut deals with the ABC board, the DCRA and the city city in general, (but most of all landlords). This person should know the culture, be involved. It can be done. Maybe Council Member Jack Evans can orchestrate the position. Or CAG. Or the Georgetown BID.
The potential problem with the lifting of the moratorium is that liquor licenses appear to be up for grabs to just anyone, regardless of their plan, regardless of whether they even have a plan. That's why a lot of valuable licenses have sat in limbo. This "restaurant wrangler" could manage all of that, with benevolence and creativity -- and effectiveness.
We've witnessed some promising arrivals in the last few years: Fiola Mare, Chez Billy Sud, Chaia, Leopold's, Frank Ruta, Unum, and most recently Via Umbria and Zannchi, joining stalwarts such as 1789, La Chaumiere, Cafe Milano, Cafe Bonaparte and Bourbon Steak, not to mention our legion of well known bars such as Martin's, Clyde's and The Tombs. (If I'm overlooking someone, please tell me).
Seriously, with the right vision and leadership, Georgetown could return to its former glory and be competitive with Petworth, Shaw, Bloomingdale, Yards Park, Barracks Row, Columbia Heights, Logan Circle, Blagden Alley, Brightwood -- neighborhoods that are successfully wooing the innovative culinary operators. There's no good reason -- from a village management point of view -- why Kinship, Convivial, Rose's Luxury, The Dabney, DBGB, Masseria, El Campo, Bread Furst, and a few others ... aren't in Georgetown.
I love traveling to other parts of town to dine. I don't need a reason to visit Union Market. But, still, I love to come home from work and walk to dinner. I know I'm not alone. Let's make the most of this next chapter in Georgetown's history of serving fine food and drink.
On New York Social Diary today we visit Whitmore Farm in Emmitsburg, MD., to celebrate spring, adorable baby animals, good food and friendship. The little piglets above were a week old when they posed (sort of) for my camera. Whitmore is a wonderful day-trip from DC, to meet the farmers, Will and Kent, visit the animals, and return home with a cooler of good eats. They also sell baby chicks, should you want to start your own backyard egg farm.
Garden & Gun columnist Julia Reed has a new book, Julia Reed's South, and we will sit and discuss on The Q&A Cafe on Thursday, May 26. This show will be taped at Tudor Place Mansion -- as we did last May with chef Patrick O'Connell. It will be a sumptuous luncheon event under the tent on the lawn. The ticket prices are $30 for members, $40 for non-members, or 2 tickets for $70. The book will be for sale. Seating begins at 11:45, and the interview will start at 12:15. Street parking is generally available. Click here to buy tickets.
ALSO NOTE: Coming on Fri June 3 is Kate Andersen Brower and her New York Times bestseller, First Women a look at modern First Ladies but also what if a man is the next boss of the White House East Wing? This one is back at The George Town Club. Call them directly for a seat: 202-333-9330. Lunch is included for prix fix of $35. Seating at 11:30, program at noon. More info here.
This is an encore appearance for Julia at The Q&A Cafe. Here's when she was on the show in June 2014:
Also, check out last year's Tudor Place event with O'Connell:
For more than a week I've been hearing that the Capella Hotel in Georgetown was sold to one of the leading international hotel groups, Rosewood. I heard the staff had been told, and that chef Frank Ruta had been told his restaurant, The Grill, would remain in place with the new ownership. When I heard all this again on Tuesday I put up a "rumor du jour" tweet and a mention on Facebook.
Almost immediately I got a DM from the Capella's marketing office, asking me to take down the tweet, but not denying what it said. Wait until Monday, I was told, which is a sort of soft confirmation. Capella said my tweet could tank the not-yet-finished deal. My experience as a business owner is that you don't tell the staff about a change of ownership until the contracts are signed. I replied, "can I quote you saying the rumor is not true?" I did not receive an answer.
Adding some weight to the rumor is that Rosewood has wanted to be in Washington for years. Back in the day they owned (or had a lease) on the land adjacent to the Washington Harbour complex. For whatever reason, their planned hotel got scrapped and the land ended up in the hands of developer Alan Novak, who built the Swedish Embassy and a next door office building with penthouse apartments.
Rosewood owns/manages some of the finest hotels in the world, including a New York favorite, The Carlyle, and also some others I know and respect: the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, the Lanesborough in London, Little Dix Bay in the Virgin Islands, The Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, Jumby Bay off Antigua, Tucker's Point in Bermuda, the Miramar in Santa Barbara, the Crillon in Paris. There are others I know by reputation in Asia and Europe. The point is: what a win for Georgetown if this rumor is true.
The seller, Capella owner Bruce Bradley, might do this now: buy The Georgetown Inn. It has so much potential, a great location in Georgetown at N and Wisconsin, and is ready for its makeover. He certainly got the job done with the Capella, which previously was an office building. The Georgetown Inn always had an attractive front. I'm told by developers that the nightmare is the plumbing; a huge overhaul required to get the rooms right. In the works is a re-do of the Latham, after it got sold by one developer to another. Basically, exciting times for the hotel side of Georgetown.
Again, as I said at the top, this is a rumor. I've heard it a few times and that made it worth mentioning. If it turns out to be not true, we'll follow up.
UPDATE: Thursday the Washington Business Journal essentially confirmed the sale.
Yolande Betbeze Fox died last week and with my New York Social Diary column today I pay tribute to her as the last of the great Georgetown grand dames, a league of women with privilege and social graces who were also on the national stage, equal to or a step above the capital's most powerful men. Achieving early fame as Miss America of 1951, she was instant renegade and woman of the world. She had homes in New York, Paris and Palm Beach, but Georgetown was her base, and where she was happiest. Please read the full tribute.
My recent interview with Diane Rehm is now on YouTube. We talk about her new book, "On My Own," about love, marriage, loss; life and death; about what she'll do after ending her gig with The Diane Rehm Show. We're two widows on barstools, talking. Please give it a watch.
And also please book a seat for our next lunchtime show, March 4, with the great journalist John Donvan. We'll talk about his long career with ABC News, "Nightline" in particular, and now with IntelligenceSquared, but also his new book about autism, "In a Different Key." Rez: 202-333-9330.
In my column today on New York Social Diary, I write about the excellent new series, "The People vs OJ Simpson," and what it was like during the "trial of the century," while working as a producer at Larry King Live. Please give it a read here.
WE HAVE TO CANCEL THE INTERVIEW WITH FORMER DC MAYOR VINCENT GRAY THAT WAS SCHEDULED FOR FEB. 24.
Our next Q&A Cafe is March 4 with journalist and author John Donvan to discuss his highly-praised book on Autism, "In A Different Key." For reservations, please call the George Town Club at 202-333-9330.
Cafe Milano has launched a new Sunday brunch and today I gave it a try, courtesy of Franco Nuschese, Laurent Menoud and Manuela Cavalieri, who were on hand to oversee the first day. I mean, its Cafe Milano, so what's not to like, but the ease of this brunch is that it includes a buffet and a full menu. The entree is ordered off the menu and the buffet provides the starters and desserts. Wine -- still and sparkling - is "bottomless," which is the fashion. My main course was the Chilean sea bass, which Milano always does so well. The prix fix is $60. Here are some photos from today's brunch, (very busy, considering it is Super Bowl Sunday).
Keeping an eye on things, Franco and Manuela:
DC Councilmember Jack Evans and I taped this interview a few weeks ago, just before he was unanimous chosen as the new chairman of the Metro board -- meaning he has his work cut out for him. He's also up for re-election. We discussed Metro and much, much more. Please give it a watch.
Remember 2012? The year when everything seemed possible for the Washington Redskins. That was because of rookie Robert Griffin III, the team's new franchise quarterback. It was all so great until it all went horribly wrong. As we look forward to the 50th Super Bowl, I look back at 2012 and RGIII today in my New York Social Diary column.
As I write this -- 10:35 pm Saturday -- the blizzard seems to be winding down. The full moon is visible behind a haze of clouds. The streets are beautifully quiet. The photo above is a panorama at the intersection of 31st and O Streets, with Christ Church behind the street lamp. I don't know how we're going to dig out, but that's for tomorrow.
Some first 8 hours photos of the the 2016 mid-Atlantic blizzard that's been named #Snowzilla, all of them Georgetown.
Actor David McCallum came to Washington for a book party hosted by Jennifer and Chris Isham, who happen to be family. It was a lovely little party and all the details are on New York Social Diary.
On New York Social Diary today we take you to the opening night of the Washington Winter Show, formerly known as the Washington Antiques Show. It was at the Katzen Arts Center. Read all about it. Lots and lots of photos, too.
It has been a strong winter/spring season at The Q&A Cafe with guests NPR host Diane Rehm, ABC News correspondent John Donvan, Astronaut Scott Altman, Publishers Katharine Weymouth and Cathy Merrill Williams, authors Kate Andersen Brower and Julia Reed. More shows to come as we celebrate our 15th anniversary in October. Almost 400 people have appeared for interviews in that time. We're proud of this small community lunch, the only talk show in a bar, that is open to everyone.
Visit this link to view our archive of broadcasts: The Q&A Cafe on YouTube
Emmy-winning CBS News producer, talk show guest wrangler, published author, host of The Q&A Cafe, print & digital journalist, filmmaker, photog, and former saloon owner. Read more...
Here is information for my popular memoir Innocent Spouse...
MEDIA: For book-related inquiries, please contact my agent, Laney Becker, at 212-243-8480