Originally Published March 1, 2021
Q. Chris, tell us about yourself, how did you end up in the restaurant business?
A. Growing up outside of Pittsburgh, I worked as a dishwasher and a barista in a coffee shop when I was 14. I loved the interaction with guests and co-workers. Through college, I worked at Cafe Ole in NW DC and held every Front of the House position, busboy to manager. I stayed at Cafe Ole for 12 years and, with the help of my former boss and mentor, Ziad Maalouf, I decided to branch out on my own with Blue 44.
Q. Why did you choose Chevy Chase for Blue 44?
A. We searched for months before finally deciding on the Chevy Chase location. We based our decision on a combination of reasons, the main one being the neighborhood's need for a fresh, full service restaurant back in 2010. We studied the demographics of the area and it seemed clear that residents would support our concept. Being a graduate of American University and a regular patron of the Chevy Chase Lounge over the years, I also felt comfortable in the neighborhood as the area had become home for me.
Q. How long have you been in Chevy Chase and what do you like best about being here?
A. Blue 44 has been open for a decade and the thing I love most about the neighborhood is the rallying support from its community members for local businesses. Whether it's the generosity we've been shown this past year through the pandemic or the support we've seen Comet Ping Pong receive after falsehoods have spread throughout the country, a real sense of community is very present in this area.
Q. What is Blue 44 looking forward to once Covid is in the rear view window?
A. I'm a people person. I love shaking hands, hugging and kissing. I can think of dozens of families who I can't wait to give big hugs to and share a cocktail with once this is in the rear view mirror. I miss the personal interaction that made me fall in love with this industry.
Q. What do you think is viewed as Blue 44's signature dish?
A. We've prided ourselves on the fact that our menu has something for everyone. Over the past year, we've scaled back the menu to cut cost and waste due to Covid-19. We have won awards for our Fried Chicken Dinner (available only on Monday nights), we sell tons of burgers, one of our staple appetizers is a Sautéed Calamari dish, we've also been recognized for our Gumbo and I'll put our crab cakes up against anyone's in town as our Chef (see FB page) is an Eastern Shore native and knows his seafood.
Q. What one movie or TV series have you watched and loved this past year?
A. My wife and I just binged Schitt's Creek. It was one of the best shows I've ever watched. I was sad when it ended. If customers can’t find it, it doesn’t exist. Clearly list and describe the services you offer. Also, be sure to showcase a premium service.
Originally Published April 1, 2021
Q. Ferrall, tell us a bit about yourself - how did you end up in the retail business?
A. Years ago, my family and I lived in Boulder, CO. We traveled extensively throughout the West, camping, exploring and road-tripping. I was introduced to many of the active and lifestyle brands we carry at Core72 through the small, local shops that we came across. The uniqueness, relaxed feel and community focus of these shops stayed with me, and upon returning to DC I was inspired to bring a little of the West back to my hometown through my own retail shop.
Q. Why did you choose Chevy Chase as a location for Core72?
A. I grew up in DC and knew that should I realize this dream of owning a shop, it would have to be located in the city. Before moving to CO, we lived at the corner of 39th and Morrison, both of my sons were born in that house, and I have such fond memories of walking the neighborhood with them, participating in the Halloween parades, and visiting the little stores of the neighborhood that gave it so much character.
Q. How long have you now been in Chevy Chase and what do you like best about being here?
A. We have been open for 8 years. I adore this neighborhood and directly attribute our overall success and recent ability to survive the last year to the community that surrounds us. It is a neighborhood that supports local businesses, welcomes uniqueness and treasures community. I feel very fortunate and am so grateful to be here.
Q. What is Core72 looking forward to be doing when the Covid pandemic is behind us?
A. I can’t wait to see people’s faces again! Our customers have become our friends and the best part of the job is the relationships that have developed over the years. I miss the lingering and the dynamic conversations.
Q. What do you think is most unique about what Core 72 provides the community?
A. Core72 is more than just a shop that sells unique, high quality active and lifestyle clothing. It is also a place where people can come to relax, escape a bit from the day to day, run into a friend from the neighborhood, and be inspired to get out and do something a bit out of their comfort zone.
Q. Where did the name Core 72 come from?
A. Core = strength and power, and '72 represents the year Title IX was passed getting us closer to women's equality in collegiate sports. So even though we now sell more than just women's clothing in essence the name celebrates and embraces the strength and power of women in athletics and beyond.
Q. What is one movie, TV series or book that you have watched or read and loved over the past year?
A. I tend to steer in the direction of psychological thrillers and British detective series. I adored Broadchurch. And I must give a shout out to local Chevy Chase author Sarah Pekkanen whose books I have gobbled up.
Originally Published May 1, 2021
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you end up in the restaurant business?
A. My first restaurant job was bussing tables at The Hunters Inn in Potomac during the summer of 1992. Nothing real exciting about that job, but it was beer money. The following summer I started at The Bethesda Crab House and fell in love with the crab process and bartending, and haven't spent a summer since without buying, selling, and cooking crabs and other seafood. Rumor has it that people don't necessarily choose the restaurant business, it chooses you; that is certainly true in my case; 15 years bartending and 29 years in the industry with 16 being on the ownership side.
Q. Why did you choose Chevy Chase for The Avenue and Capital Crab?
A. My wife and I moved into the neighborhood in 2007. By this time I had opened my first 2 restaurants- Muttly's in Adams Morgan and Town Hall in Glover Park. Both concepts focused on neighborhood. Most of my career had been spent in the front of house bartending, but it wasn't until 2005 when I partnered with Executive Chef Paul Madrid did I begin to understand the importance of an elevated menu. My wife and I, as did most of the neighbors, wanted that neighborhood dining option, as well as the comfortable local watering hole. Covid has allowed us to join both concepts, and our dedicated guests have embraced the merger.
Q. Is the current menu merger of The Avenue and Capital Crab permanent?
A. Yes. The Avenue and Capital Crab are one. As the seasons change, so will the menu. We will have more of a seafood selection in the spring and summer months.
Q. I hear you have some exciting news about upcoming plans for the former home of Capital Crab.
A. Executive Chef Paul Madrid, will be leading our team in opening La Siesta, a Mexican concept he has wanted to open since he first became a chef. Paul is from East L.A, so forget about your run of the mill Tex-Mex, this is Mexican food with a Southern Californian twist.
Q. What are some highlights of things you are looking forward to be doing at The Avenue & Capital Crab once Covid is behind us?
A. We plan on throwing a proper St Patty's Day party this fall, since we have missed the last two. Also, I am excited for private events to come back. Events are such a big part of our business, we have really missed friends and family getting together to celebrate their life moments with us.
Q. The Avenue has had music events in the past, who are some of your personal favorite acts to book?
A. Live music will certainly be back at The Avenue and some of our local favorites are Sean Chyun, Sean Gaiser, and Andrew Deerin.
Originally Published June 1, 2021
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you end up in the food business?
A. I have always felt very comfortable in restaurants and around food. I worked in the dining hall in college, at Sutton Place Gourmet during my Washington Semester at AU and then one restaurant after another as server, manager or in the kitchen: Cheesecake Factory, Kinkeads, Thyme Square, Greenwood, Olives. I was a gig worker before it was trendy.
Q. Why did you choose Chevy Chase to open up a Market?
A. Well, I didn’t. In 2007 I had a permit expediting business. Lewie Bloom, the developer who renovated this market didn't have an operator for the Market when he was ready to open. Lewie and his wife Nancy knew I had a background in food; so when they asked me if I would be interested in running the Market, I thought it was an interesting opportunity.
Q. What do you like best about being in Chevy Chase and especially right across from Lafayette E.S.?
A. It’s really close to my house! Seriously, it’s a great neighborhood with nice families. And most importantly our customers are really grateful that we are here even when we mess up or don’t have what they need. That makes doing what we do everyday easier.
Q. What is BBM looking forward to be doing this summer with Covid restrictions more relaxed?
A. We’ll re-open the candy shop with a few changes; we really like the window especially for the kids so we hope to keep that. We have started wine tastings again and have more in the works and we’ll have some events for the neighborhood like we used to.
Q. BBM seems to have a special place in the community, why do you think that is?
A. We work really hard on the product mix and quality, but we spend as much energy on the experience. We’ve tried to create a space where people feel comfortable and happy. A place to connect with others. And through that, we’ve built very important relationships in the 13 years we’ve been here. We actually love our customers.
Q. What is your favorite meal from childhood?
A. My mother always made breaded pork chops with dumplings and gravy and red cabbage for my birthday. It was stunning! Her mother, my Nana was German. Later in life my Dad, whose Irish parents were farmers in central Massachusetts, taught me how to corn beef brisket and to make the best Irish soda bread ever, and we make those each year at the Market.
Q. During these past 15 pandemic months what have you found to be one or two things that you might have taken up as a new hobby or pursuit?
A. Ha ha, I have not had time for any new hobby or pursuits. I have only taken a handful of days off in the past year. So maybe I’ll take up a new hobby this year like sleeping!