Michael Sternberg Readies Star Restaurant Group’s The Walrus Oyster & Ale House

Veteran DC restaurateur Michael Sternberg says Star Restaurant Group has signed a letter of intent with The Peterson Companies to lease the former Ketchup space at National Harbor, to open The Walrus Oyster & Ale House, named for the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus and The Carpenter.” The theme is Eastern Shore seafood, including a raw bar. Their consulting chef is none other than Bob Kinkead. Only a stone’s throw from the waterfront, the plan is to be open daily with full service as well as to-go (think: lobster rolls and crab salad sandwiches strolling along the waterfront). After finalizing lease negotiations, the plan is to by open in time to take advantage of the summer weather on the water.

Chef Update: Reston’s Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro has appointed John-Michael Hamlet as its new executive chef. Previously, he was district executive chef at Compass Group USA … Katie Busch was named chef de cuisine for Bistro Vivant in McLean, Va.  A Philadelphia native, Busch, 29, most recently worked as executive chef at Hospada, a Czech restaurant in New York … Mike Huff takes over the kitchen Blacksalt for Black Restaurant Group. He worked for Bob Kinkead at his Colvin Run Tavern in Tysons Corner and at Kinkead’s in downtown DC. Todd Schofield has been named executive chef of Westfields Marriott in Chantilly. Westfields Marriott has recently completed extensive renovations to its restaurant, Wellington’s.

George Vetsch, the former chef at C.F. Folks in Dupont Circle, has decided to work with Reza Akhavan, former general manager at Shaw’s Tavern to open Silo in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood, at 919 Fifth St. NW. Yes, it used to be a grain storage silo. Silo will serve modern American food with Swiss and French influences. This works well for Vetsch, who is Swiss. The 60-seat Silo will serve dinner only.

Republic at Arlington will open in Ballston where Leek American Bistro used to be.  Executive Chef and operating partner Alan Newton says there will be French influence in the modern comfort food he will prepare. The drink menu will incorporate public voting to decide on that menu. The management team includes owner Thanh Caodac and general manager Anthony Catselites. All three have management experience at McCormick & Schmick’s. A February opening is planned.

Amsterdam Falafelshop was born in Adams Morgan, and plans to grow in this region. The Annapolis franchisee has the rights to open a shop in Tysons Corner. A store on 14th Street in the District is slated to open by end of first quarter 2014, with another DC location in the works, as well as a Reston location, according to founders Arianne and Scott Bennett. It’s a simple QSR concept: more than 20 toppings to add by the scoop for its sandwiches with Dutch-style fries.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea shop has signed a lease for space at 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, in the former Citibank space, that is also home to Michel Richard’s Central and the former Ten Penh restaurant (where San Francisco-based Tadich Grill will open) The region’s remaining Caribou Coffee locations become Peet’s Coffee & Tea shops. The one at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave, NW is one of the first planned for conversion.

Quick Hits: Dean Vlahos is looking to open his Redstone American Grill at National Harbor where Red Eye Grill was supposed to open … Woodley Park gets a Dunkin’ Donuts on Connecticut Ave. where Café International used to be.

Busboys & Poets will open in NE D.C.’s Brookland neighborhood in the fall of 2014 in the Monroe Street Market mixed-use project. It will be Andy Shallal’s sixth Busboys & Poets store (also has DC, Arlington, Hyattsville and Takoma Park slated to open in second quarter 2014). There will indeed be a bookstore as part of the restaurant, even though a Barnes & Noble will also open there. A beer-centric restaurant is also slated to open in the Monroe Street Market as well as QSR concept, & Pizza.

Chef Bradley Curtis has been hired to create the menu to complement the wines at Flight Wine Bar at 777 6th St, NW in Penn Quarter. Previously, he worked at Graffiato, DGS Delicatessen, Bandolero and Zaytinya. Owners Kabir Amir and Swati Bose are new in the restaurant industry, but Swati knows her wines as she was assistant cellar master at Balthazar in NYC. The 60-seat European-style wine bar was slated to be open by NYE.

Openings Update:  Roofers Union in Adams Morgan says the casual restaurant will be ready to open on January 15. Ri Ra Irish Restaurant & Pub in Georgetown plans to open on January 23.  Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steaks & Stone Crabs in downtown DC has January 29 as its opening date. The Argentinian steakhouse that Jose Garces plans to open in the Madison Hotel on 15th & M Streets, NW is now slated to open in early April.

Calendar:  Sips & Suppers to benefit Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen is Saturday, January 25 (Sips) at the Newseum and Sunday, January 26 (Suppers) at various homes in DC. Hosts are Joan Nathan, Alice Waters and Jose Andres … Taste of Nation – Monday March 31 at National Building Museum.

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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