GRK Fresh Greek Goes Fast and Casual

Fast Casual dining is alive and growing in DC metro area. GRK Fresh Greek, a new healthy, fast casual concept from a partnership that is 100 percent Greek. Their first US store is in New York City’s financial district. It came to the attention of Nation’s Restaurant News, which included GRK in its “Breakout Brands 2014: 10 hot, emerging restaurant concepts generating excitement in the industry.” They will introduce their signature Yeero, a classic Greek marinated meat in a house-baked pita. They will offer fresh yogurt imported from Greece with sweet and savory toppings, as well as their own signature frozen yogurt. The calendar calls for a June opening in the Golden Triangle at 1140 19th St. The plan is to open 8-10 stores in the DMV.

More restaurant openings from the folks who brought you Heavy Seas Alehouse – Baltimore-based Monogram Hospitality. In addition to their Rosslyn and Baltimore locations, Monogram plans to open another Heavy Seas Alehouse this coming winter as well as a fast casual version, Heavy Seas Burgers this summer in locations to be announced shortly. They have also teamed up with well-known Baltimore chef, Galen Sampson, to launch a casual, locally sourced concept in the Canton section of Baltimore called Farmstead Grill. In addition, Monogram has teamed up with Bourbon Coffee in downtown DC to launch a new fast-casual pizza and artisan coffee concept, Bourbon Coffee & Crust. The first locations for Bourbon Coffee & Crust will open in New York this summer and Baltimore this fall. Needless to say, they are seeking to fill over 20 management positions.

The new owners of 1819 M Street, NW are renovating the four-story building to open MPire, a fine dining restaurant and gentlemen’s club. Joanna’s 1819 Club was the previous tenant. The restaurant is expected to fill the first level, with a bar, lounge and entertainment on the second and third levels. The fourth level is office space. A June opening is planned.

DC airport dining continues to give us reason to arrive more than an hour earlier for our flight. Renowned chef/restaurateur Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, Mussel Bar) plans to open a restaurant in DCA’s Terminal A, which is the older, southern end of Reagan National Airport. His Sugartoads Restaurant Consulting Group is planning a French provencal restaurant, with everything sourced locally. The plan is to provide iPads so guests can order their meals and use the Internet while dining. A summer 2015 opening is targeted. Wiedmaier’s new DCA restaurant will join  &pizza, Taylor Gourmet, Grille District and Starbuck’s. Coming to Dulles (IAD) later this year: Bar Symon, from Cleveland chef Michael Symon, a DC Craft Brew station, Smashburger, brb (from Thompson Hospitality), District ChopHouse, Carrabba’s, Chef Geoff’s and &pizza.

Macon Bistro & Larder should be open by the time you read this. Located at the arcade at Chevy Chase Circle, it’s named for chef/owner Tony Brown’s home town of Macon, Georgia, as well as where he learned his classic French cooking techniques, Macon, France. Tony had opened three locations of The Burro, a fast casual burrito concept, before selling it and going to Georgetown Business School, then federal government consulting; now he’s back in the restaurant business. His chef de cuisine is Mike Matis, who previously worked at Miami’s Yardbird Southern Table.

CH CH Changes: Il Canale in Georgetown is expanding into the space where Cannon Seafood Market was next door at 1063 31st St, NW … Owners Ralph Brabham, Drew Porterfield and chef Aschara Vigsittaboot  plan to relocate Beau Thai to bigger space at the Jefferson MarketPlace building, a new luxury apartment building on 7th St NW across from the CityMarket at O. The existing location in Shaw at 1700 New Jersey Ave. NW will close when this one opens, which should be by October. They started as a carryout when they first opened in 2010 and grew into  a full-service restaurant, and now even bigger.

Just Opened: Uprising Muffin Co., a bakery and cafe has opened in Shaw. It’s owned by first-time restaurateur Donnie Simpson Jr., who studied how trendy donuts and cupcakes had become – but not muffins – yet. The fast-casual spot at 1817 7th St, NW offers muffins in 35 rotating flavors as well as sandwiches and salads, along with coffee and espresso drinks. He is the son of legendary WPGC (and before that, WKYS) radio personality, Donnie Simpson … UK-based One Group has opened its 232-seat STK steakhouse geared towards women in décor and menu. Chef Marc Hennessey previously worked at BLT restaurants in Hong Kong as well as upscale restaurants in Chicago and Northern California …Thai street food is the theme of Soi 38 from restaurateurs Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip, which just opened in Foggy Bottom. The chef is Mitchai Pankham.

Chef & GM Update: Chef Michael Walters has joined the Silo team as a consulting chef who has revamped the menu. He spends his mornings as the production chef at Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant and the evenings in the kitchen at Silo. Previously, he owned and operated Brightwood Bistro. Calvin Di Giovanni was named chef de cuisine at Silo. Previously, he was sous chef at Pesce in Dupont Circle …Reston’s Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro has named Cara Helstrom as the restaurant’s new general manager. Prior to joining Vinifera, Helstrom was general manager at Todd Gray’s Watershed in NE Washington, DC

Quick Hits: Todd Luongo plans to open Mythology Modern Chop House and Lore Lounge in the breakout H Street, NE corridor (816 H St NE) before the end of 2nd  Quarter 2015. Since there is an Atlas Theater, he continued with the Greek mythology theme, hence the name … Barrel, an upscale casual restaurant and bar at 613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE is open where The 18th Amendment used to be. The chef is Garret Fleming, who was previously at The Pig. The whiskey-focused bar includes nearly 100 different kinds of bourbon, rye, Tennessee whiskey and scotch. Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan is opening a second location in Rosslyn …

Red Light, the dessert-and-cocktail-focused bar opening in the former Bar di Bari space at 1401 R St. NW, is owned and operated by Aaron Gordon, pastry chef Robert Underwood and cocktail impresarios Ari and Micah Wilder. Red Light takes its name from that area’s former reputation as the red light district. What a long, strange road it’s been, 14th Street.

Chef Bob Kinkead has opened Campono a more casual restaurant adjacent to his full-service Ancora in the Watergate complex near the Kennedy Center. Campono focuses on casual Italian food, as it’s named for the town in Italy where Bob’s daughter and her family live. Campono specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas as well as hot and cold subs, salads, house-made gelato. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as take-out.

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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