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.
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.
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 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.
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 Broad Branch 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!
Published, July 1, 2021
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself - how did you end up in the retail business?
A. In August 2017, I launched a clothing line and in the process got to know a lot of local artists, makers, and designers. While growing my business online and schlepping clothing to markets, trunk shows and pop ups, I longed for a brick & mortar boutique dedicated to local and independent womenswear, accessories, and home goods brands. Park Story was born in October 2018 with the help of fellow designers turned friends. I opened our location in Chevy Chase DC in October 2019.
Q. Why did you decide to open in Chevy Chase?
A. As friends relocated to the area, I was spending more and more time in the neighborhood and fell in love with it, the sense of community, and the large presence of long-standing small businesses. I'm thrilled to now live and work in the neighborhood.
Q. Where did the name Park Story come from?
A. The shop name, Park Story, has dual meaning. Park is meant to reflect the community of entrepreneurs and customers that I've come to call friends and Story reflects the fact that all the products we carry have a story as they are an extension of the makers, artists, and designers who dreamed them up.
Q. If someone knew nothing about your store how would you best describe it?
A. A place to discover something unique that you didn't know you needed. We've been called the "local and independent Anthropologie" before and that captures the variety of products we carry well.
Q. What are some highlights of things you are looking forward to be doing at Park Story now that restrictions are being lifted?
A. Collaborating with other small businesses on events in store and elsewhere. The shop is meant to be a community gathering space bringing people together by way of trunk shows, workshops, and events. I'm eager to host folks in store again and continue to foster a sense of community. I want the shop to be more than just a place to buy things.
Q. Why are community events important to you?
A. People are at the core of what I do. I'm committed to carrying independent and responsibly made goods because I believe in empowering makers, artists and designers and I want to connect consumers with the people behind the products they purchase. Community events allow me to do that and provide an experience.
Q. What is something about you that people would be surprised to learn?
A. I have no background in fashion design or retail. I went to law school and practiced law before launching my clothing line and the shop.
Published, August 1, 2021
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you end up in the restaurant business?
A. I got involved in the restaurant business very young as a pot washer in Bucks County PA; I was immediately drawn to the personalities of everyone who worked in this field. From there I learned the importance of each person's role in the "circus." I love the energy and the feeling of working with so many different people. After college, I returned to it and never looked back, well maybe a few times. I have always loved chatting and working the bar or room.
Q. How did you come to be at Macon and how long have you been there?
A. After a few managing jobs in DC I returned to bar tending for an extended period in Chinatown DC. After my 8 years behind the bar it was time to slow down and that is what brought me to Chevy Chase. I've been at Macon for 5 years with my husband and we love the neighborhood feel.
Q. If someone were coming to Macon for the first time how would you best describe the type of food you serve?
A. Our seasonal menu has a flavor of Southern and French (Chef Kevin Gause pictured above with Ellen McDonald) and the cocktail menu is full of summer libations. The Essie's Biscuits are a must.
Q. What do you like about being in Chevy Chase DC?
A. Chatting with people who are just walking by, knowing their kids and pets, Seeing the engagement parties in our Magnolia Room and the guests bringing their little ones is so enjoyable.
Q. You just mentioned the Magnolia Room (in the rear of The Arcade). What is it and how and when is it used?
A. We recently reopened that room, but not up to capacity yet, as we feel more comfortable with giving guests a bit more space. We have recently hosted two 100th birthday parties and multiple showers and reunions which is amazing in itself. We love that we are trusted by the community to host these special days.
Q. What is something about you personally that people would be surprised to learn?
A. On a personal level, not really a secret to anyone, I travel, I read a lot, and I love my garden at home. Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.
Published September 1, 2021
Q. What made you initially switch careers to train as a Yoga teacher?
A. In 2005, I was burned out in my job as a grant writer and decided to enroll in a one-month teacher training at Kripalu in Massachusetts. I loved yoga, and I was taking time off for a reset. After a month of practicing every day, my chronic headaches were gone, I could breathe better, and I was hooked. I joined Circle Yoga as a teacher in 2006 and became Executive Director in 2015.
Q. When did Circle Yoga start and how did it evolve into a cooperative?
A. The studio was founded by Northampton St. resident Annie Mahon in March 2003. It was originally called Budding Yogis and focused on offering mindful yoga to children and families. Soon after adults in the neighborhood were asking for yoga and mindfulness classes, so the studio broadened its reach and in 2012 became Circle Yoga and transitioned to a cooperative.
Q. What is it about being a cooperative that is most appealing?
A. As a co-op, we operate like a non-profit and reinvest excess funds into building a sustainable local business that provides excellent classes and workshops for our students, as well as fair wages and a supportive environment for teachers and staff. When we face financial stress as a co-op it feels like a “we’re all in this together” problem to solve.
Q. How many different types of classes do you have and for what age groups?
A. This fall, we’re offering about 60 classes a week, most are virtual, but we do have a limited schedule of small, in-person classes. The schedule includes an array of yoga classes that vary by skill level, intensity, and focus. There are fun and active classes for kids as young as 5, all the way up to classes like Super Gentle Yoga, where you’ll find students who are 80 and up. We also offer fitness-focused classes, like Pilates and Total Body Fitness, and we now have an on-demand video library.
Q. What difficulties have you encountered to keep operating during the Covid pandemic?
A. We closed due to Covid-19 on March 12, 2020, about one month after we completed an expansion into the old Chevy Chase Pharmacy space. Four days later, we began offering virtual classes on Zoom. It required a huge effort, but we did it pretty quickly and successfully. Now we have many students who want to take at least some classes virtually for the long-term because getting out of bed and practicing in your PJs is so easy, and the commute can’t be beat.
Q. What are some examples of how Circle Yoga and the Chevy Chase community interact?
A. About 75% of Circle Yoga students live within about a mile of the studio, which gives us a direct connection to the Chevy Chase community. We love being part of events like the Halloween Spooktacular and Chevy Chase Day. We’re excited about Chevy Chase Day this year because we’ll be offering two yoga classes: one for kids and a beginner’s class for adults.
Q. When you aren't practicing or organizing Yoga what keeps you busy?
A. You can usually find me at or near home in Silver Spring. My husband and I are excited because our kids, ages 9 and 13, are back in school full time. During the pandemic I’ve also spent many hours walking our dog and have read more than ever. And I’m looking forward to pickleball lessons this Fall.
Published October 1, 2021
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself Meaghaan, how did you end up in the restaurant business?
A. I went to school for business. I am a licensed insurance agent, and investment specialist but I've always moonlighted in restaurants. The service industry has been my second home since I started bussing tables at 15. I instantly loved the fast paced environment, and the camaraderie amongst staff.
Q. What's the story behind you coming to Little Beast and how long have you been there?
A. I came to Little Beast in 2018, about 3 weeks after we opened. I was looking for a part-time job as a bartender, and ended up as the general manager. I fell in love with this spot and the guests. Little Beast has a real neighborhood connection. Almost every guest is a regular, and most everyone is very kind.
Q. If someone were coming to Little Beast for the first time how would you best describe the food you serve?
A. We have the best Detroit style & brick oven pizza in DC. We also have a selection for every palate. We recently introduced our new menu with delicious salads boasting 6 oz. of seared tuna, organic salmon or spiced chicken.
Q. Anything new coming up in the future for Little Beast?
A. We just opened Little Beast Reston, VA. We are excited to have a sister restaurant across the river. We now have Social Beast on Wisconsin Ave., Little Beast Chevy Chase, and Little Beast Reston. We are bringing flavor to every corner of the DMV. Maybe Maryland is next, who knows!
Q. What do you think is the single best feature of Little Beast?
A. Little Beast is family owned. I'm proud to be a part of a company that cares about family. The "little beasts" themselves often come by for cupcakes, brunch or a slice.
Q. Brick Oven or Detroit Style which is more popular?
A. It's an even split, believe it or not. Detroit pizza has a cult following, and if you know, you know. The brick oven pizza, recently upgraded with Parmesan Romano, aged provolone, and mozzarella, will knock your socks off. We definitely know how to make a pie.
Q. Little Beast has some great art work both indoors and outdoors, what can you tell us about it?
A. German artist Kim Köster created the playful beast murals. It was inspired by Aaron Gordon's vision for a restaurant that catered to children & adults alike. We have stickers & monsters. We also have a full bar & an elevated menu.
Q. What is something about you personally that people would be surprised to learn?
A. I have four little beasts of my own. You can often catch them grabbing your to-go order, or delivering food to your table on the weekends. Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.
Published November 1, 2021
Q. So Brigette, What made you want to get into the business of providing instruction for instruments and voice?
A. When my husband, Marshall, and I met in 1995 we talked about arts education and how we would love to start a non-profit arts center one day. In 2013, I was at a crossroads with my career as an accountant and I went to my husband and said, "this is our moment." We began filing to create the Harmonic Music Foundation as a 501(c)(3) non-profit music foundation. We decided the first thing we would do was to open a small community-based music school with high quality instruction, Q. It must be very hard to keep up with lessons during the pandemic. Can you talk a bit about that?
A. In March 2020 we closed our doors due to the pandemic. I started applying for loans and grants that were made available to small business and non-profits. We paid our staff for 6 months to not work and to just take care of themselves while we figured out our next steps. In Sept. 2020 we pivoted to 100% virtual music lessons. We have been operating at about 50% of the students that we had before the pandemic. With our new space, we are finally offering in person music lessons again as well as virtual lessons.
Q. For many years you were located in the Chevy Chase Arcade but you have now just opened in your new location on Livingston Street. This must be an exciting time, why the move and what do you hope it helps you most with?
A. In Sept. 2020 our lease, which started in Nov. 2013, was up in the Chevy Chase Arcade. We knew we needed to find a less expensive rental space if we were going to survive post pandemic. Periwinkle gift shop had just vacated the space at 3815 Livingston Street NW so we contacted the landlord and took a tour. Within a few days we signed a lease and moved over to the new space. In August 2021, we started renovating and we opened our doors on October 25th. We are now more ADA accessible, and having everything on one floor helps keep the space more cohesive. We also downsized from 16 to 10 lesson rooms.
Q. Harmonic Music Foundation is a non-profit (501c3) are there other things besides Harmonic Music Studios that you are involved with?
A. The Harmonic Music Foundation (HMF) works with new and young composers to commission music works. We commissioned a piece in 2013 for a woodwind octet and then had a group of professors from the Shenandoah Conservatory perform the piece at our annual staff concert where all staff performs for the community so students can see what amazing musicians they have for teachers. We also provide free concerts for the public. We are hoping to plan small ensemble pop up concerts outside our new space, so we are applying for a sidewalk seating permit. Q. Do you play any instruments?
A. I do not currently play an instrument. At age 16 I took a few months of guitar lessons. At age 24 I took a few months of piano lessons. I regret that I don’t play an instrument, but my parents did not encourage it or make it a priority. At Harmonic we try to be as accommodating as possible to encourage parents to get their kids into lessons and to help adults take and stick with lessons.
Q. If you could be proficient with any instrument which would you personally choose and why?
A. It is a toss-up between Harp and Cello. I find both instruments to be so engaging and soothing. Q. What is something about you that would surprise people?
A. For many years I was a stained-glass artist. I took classes at age 24 with my husband and we then spent years working on projects together. We have a beautiful window near the front door of our home that we made together.
Published December 1, 2021
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself Andy, how did you end up in the movie business as the Avalon's Director of Programming?
A. My journey to becoming the Avalon’s Director of Programming was a long one. I went to Skidmore College and studied Anthropology, but also took lots of art courses including photography. After school I came to DC in 1990 and earned a Master’s degree from American University in Film & Video. While in school a job opened up at Georgetown’s Key Theatre. I worked there from 1991-1997, Visions Cinema from 2000-2004, and since 2004 at the Avalon. I also helped run and now own a national film society called The Cinema Club which is unfortunately still closed due to the pandemic.
Q. When the Avalon closed its doors in 2001 after 78 years of operating it reemerged as a non-profit and with community support it reopened in 2003. How difficult was that to pull off?
A. The work done to re-open and restore the theater as a non-profit was remarkable. But by the time I arrived in 2004 the Avalon was faced with finding a way to keep the theater operational. The initial Capital Campaign to raise funds to purchase the building was instrumental in putting the Avalon on the path toward financial stability. As a non-profit we rely on our community of supporters to help sustain the theatre for the future.
Q. The Avalon changed its programming and delivery system a bit during the initial phases of the pandemic by shifting to embrace a streaming platform which continues along with traditional on-site operations. How has that worked out?
A. Yes we did. In fact we were I believe the first Cinema in the USA to do this as we had opened “Saint Frances” on a Friday and were offering it virtually 5 days later. Our idea was also being replicated simultaneously by a few others theaters and distributors and what emerged was really a whole new ‘Virtual Cinema’ concept. By August of 2020 we had a new platform with about 25 movies available each week which I hope we will continue to use.
Q. As Director of Programming you are the driving force for what films come to the Avalon. How does your decision-making process work?
A. I do watch a lot of movies. It’s somewhat of an all-consuming task. I go to a film festival or two each year, attend local screenings, watch films on computer links, read reviews, talk to colleagues and it all sort of gets mashed together to find what I think our Avalon audience will enjoy the most.
Q. Approximately how many films do you end up watching every year as part of your job? Do you personally have a favorite film genre?
A. Hundreds of new films. And I’m always re-watching older films as they can help inform my decision-making. I fall more on the art-house drama, documentary, avant-garde side over the commercial thriller, romance, horror one but a good movie is a good movie.
Q. Over the years the Avalon has made many improvements. Currently you are in the midst of your Campaign to Sustain the Avalon. How important is that to the Avalon's continued health?
A. Massively. Revenue at the Avalon and is running around 55% of normal. With all the uncertainty out there I do imagine we are still far from a return to normal where our film and concession earnings make up 80-85% of our annual revenues as in pre-pandemic days. Over the last 10 months we’ve done all we can to find resources including PPP loans, grants, and most importantly the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant. But without our patrons support we’d be in a terrible place. Our supporters have and continue to make sure the Avalon is here for the long haul as a part of Chevy Chase and the greater DC community.
Q. When the business of movies and watching films isn't keeping you busy what do you like to do in your free time?
A. I’m a husband and father of three so my family can keep me pretty busy. My oldest kid is now a Junior in college at Northwestern University, the middle one is a Senior at BCC, and my youngest is in eighth grade at Silver Creek Middle School in Kensington. I also love music, and sports and do some coaching and playing myself. I was recently in Florida for a week of tournament baseball and I play baseball and golf here in the DC area. I often tell folks it’s OK to love both a good French language costume drama and college football but I get a bunch of blank looks back in return.