Doi Moi, The Changes … Well, They Have Already Come

Mark Kuller’s new Southeast Asian restaurant in Logan Circle will be called Doi Moi, which translates to “new change” reflecting changes in Vietnam, changes on the 14th Street corridor, renovations of the building and Kuller’s transition from lawyer to restaurateur, which he has pretty much figured out. Kuller maintains the team he has grown with, as Haidar Karoum will oversee the menu of Vietnamese and Thai dishes, as he does for Proof and Estadio. Adam Bernbach continues to reign over the cocktail menus at all three places. The bar at Doi Moi will have its own name: 2 Birds 1 Stone. Griz Dwight is the architect for this space as he was for the others. The 5,000-sq. ft. space will take on the spirit of traditional street food stands and stalls. A summer opening is targeted.

With a new Georgetown hotel comes a new restaurant—with a familiar theme—steakhouse. The new luxury Capella Hotel on 31st Street in Georgetown will open The Grill Room, featuring hand-cut meats and seafood (are you listening, Morton’s?) They have hired Swedish chef Jakob Esko, to run the restaurant and its bar, also with its own name, The Rye Bar. The restaurant will be open for lunch as well as dinner. They plan to open it in April.

And speaking of Georgetown, The Graham Georgetown, formerly The Hotel Monticello on Thomas Jefferson Street, which never had a restaurant, will open with two restaurants. The Alex will offer breakfast and dinner. The rooftop Observatory will serve dinner and weekend brunch. April will be busy in Georgetown, as The Graham plans to be open then as well.

Multi-national cuisine is gaining popularity. Branda Del Granado plans to open a Latin American restaurant with a variety of multi-national flavors. It’s in her blood. Her family was in the restaurant business in Silver Spring and Wheaton, operating Latin American themed restaurants. She is in business with her executive chef, Leonard Robinson, son of a military family who lived “all over” including Argentina, Bolivia and Spain. He learned how to cook those cuisines while living abroad. Most recently he was in Atlanta at Fleur de Lis and Little Bistro. The opening of this 2,500 sq.-ft. restaurant and lounge is planned for late spring in the West End at 23rd & M Streets.

Quick Hits: Finally, a Maryland location for sweetgreen—on Georgia Ave. where Living Ruff pet store used to be – and right near Discovery headquarters, so lunch time just got better. A summer opening is planned. Near to Maryland but still in DC, Soupergirl is expanding her operations—into the space next door. That means the kitchen can expand. Address remains the same—314 Carroll St. NW. Bryan Voltaggio’s Lunch Box will open at Chevy Chase Pavilion, joining his other more upscale restaurant, Range. A Q3 2013 opening is planned. Gourmet Pizza plans to open on 415 8th St SE on Barracks Row offering customized pizzas. No delivery service. A spring opening is planned. Lance London will open The Carolina Kitchen at Rhode Island Row in Northeast DC. It will seat 250 on two floors plus an outdoor patio. He currently has restaurants in Largo and Hyattsville, and has been planning to open in DC. A summer opening is planned.

Chef Update: Chef Ravi Narayanan is the executive chef at Heritage Management’s new concept, Crossroads, at 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. He will also oversee the menu at Heritage India, also opening at that location by the end of this month. Jacob Hunter is the new executive chef at matchbox in Merrifield, located in the Mosaic District. He played an integral role in the opening of matchbox Food Group’s Ted’s BULLETIN and DC-3. Before matchbox, Jacob was executive chef at McCormick and Schmick’s. John Critchley has been named executive chef of Bourbon Steak restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel. Previously, John was executive chef at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar at the Hotel Palomar. Adam Schop has been named chef of Le Diplomate, Stephen Starr’s new French bistro slated to open the end of March on 14th St NW in Logan Circle. Bistro Vivant in McLean named Ed Hardy as chef de cuisine. Anthony Pilla formerly of Seventh Hill Pizza, Acqua al 2 and Pizza CS is now at Urbana at Dupont Circle in the Hotel Palomar, taking over the pizza helm. Greg McCarty has been named executive chef of NoPa Kitchen + Bar, the newest addition to Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge restaurant empire. The American brasserie will be located at 800 F St. NW … another April opening is planned.

From the folks who brought you I-Thai in Tysons Corner comes I-Thai in Georgetown, where Garrett’s used to be on M St. NW. They plan to exorcise the Garrett’s ghost and offer fine dining. The I-Thai Restaurant Group also plans to open Asia 54 at 2122 P St. NW in Dupont Circle featuring Asian fusion (Thai and Japanese) in an upscale casual setting. The third part of this Asian restaurant group’s hat trick is a QSR Japanese restaurant (sushi, too) at Washington Square in Old Town, Alexandria, where Burrito Grill used to be.

Passion Fin Restaurant Group plans to open Passion Fin Asian Bistro in Merrifield this May. This too will be fine dining, offering Japanese, Thai and Malaysian cuisine. Their two other bistros are in Bethesda and Ashburn.

Yoshihisa Ota is opening a restaurant called Yuzu where Divino Lounge used to be at 7345 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit. It will serve both sushi and robata grilled foods. Ota, used to be chef and partner at Kushi. An April opening (when else?) is planned.

Korea-based BonChon has been serving its version of fried chicken (crispy hot or crispy garlic-soy) in the suburbs of Virginia. The next franchise site will open in Woodbridge near Potomac Mills by May. This location will also offer frozen yogurt. There are plans for an Arlington store to open by year’s end too.

About the Author

Linda Roth is president of Linda Roth Associates, Inc. specializing in marketing, promotions and publicity in the hospitality industry. Contact Linda at 202-888-3571 or or visit her website at

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