Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bisnow's 3rd Annual DC Restaurant Development Summit

Bisnow's 3rd Annual DC Restaurant Development Summit
The Boilermaker Shops
300 Tingey St. S.E.
Washington, DC
Occasionally I get to attend some fun business events as part of my job....and my hobby.
This was one of the better ones I've been to. Bisnow is a leading virtual publication for business to business activity and they have an entire section devoted to restaurants. My favorite subject! As you go through the post you'll notice that some of the restaurant names are hyperlinked - if you click it will take you to the review I wrote on that particular restaurant.
Michael Babin, Owner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, presented opening remarks. He has created quite an empire in the DC Metro which now includes 14 venues, some one-offs and some with multiple outlets such as Rustico, the brewery downstairs from this venue - Blue Jacket, Evening Star, Vermillion, Church Key, Birch & Barley, Buzz Bakery, Tallula, Red Apron Butcher, and the newest, which opened softly today, Iron Gate.
The first panel consisted of the President of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Kathy Hollinger. Seated to her right were some of the folks involved in various regulatory boards including the Alcoholic Beverage Administration and others.
This panel started to swing the fun needle to the right. From left to right we had Michael Faerber of McMillan Metro, Alex Hurtado of Collective Architecture, Jason Wilt of Winmar, Ramsey Meiser of Forest City Washington, and Ty Neal of Matchbox. I've worked with Alex, Jason and Ty on various projects over the years and they are all consummate professionals.  I know I can count on things being done when I walk into a deal and see Alex or Jason there.
Ty is one of the founders of Matchbox Food Group. They are one of the most successful local chains in the area. Their restaurants include Matchbox, Ted's Bulletin, and DC3. They have nine locations currently with more on the way.
The next group consisted of more restaurant people. This was my entertainment for the evening. Above is Chef Geoff Tracy on the left and Mike Isabella on the right. Geoff has Chef Geoff's and Lia's restaurants and Mike owns Graffiato and Kapnos &G. 
The ever-lovely Hilda Staples. She is a partner in the Volt Restaurant Group which includes several locations in Frederick and one in DC. The Frederick locations include Volt, Family Meal, and lunchbox. She recently opened Range in DC, all with partner Bryan Voltaggio. She helped get Graffiato off the ground as well.
Left to right, Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery, Bearnaise, and We The Pizza, Bill Lukashok of Hill Country, Hilda Staples, Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge which owns Rasika, 701, Bombay Club, The Oval Room, Bibiana, Ardeo+Bardeo, and Rasika West End, Chef Geoff, and Mike Isabella.
I don't want to brag, but 5 out 6 panelists above agree - I'm an OK sales person.
Quote of the event: Ty Neal said, "So far, all the risks have been worth it." when discussing the risks/rewards of opening multiple concepts in the DC metro area in some less than optimal areas.
Topics covered by the group included everything from how they got started in the industry to the effects of new restaurants coming in from out of town and not understanding the fact that the city doesn't have the population density that the out-of-towners are used to. 

I did not stay for the happy hour afterwards as I was really looking forward to the 2-1/2 hours I was going to spend sitting in traffic travelling the 15 miles back to my house...however, I'm sure the food provided by Blue Jacket was wonderful.

Thank you to Bisnow for putting the event together and to all of my customers who participated. A special thank you goes to Jason Wilt of Winmar for the shout-out where he reminded people to budget for their MICROS systems when they're opening a new place.

See you all soon.

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