Riyadh Gets The Good Stuff


2014-10-02 Good Stuff-17

Spike Mendelsohn’s The Good Stuff Eatery is headed to Saudi Arabia. This will be the first international location for the brand. The publicity folks tell me the exact location will be in Riyadh and will open in about a year.

Photography: Courtesy of The Sunnyside Group


Dulles 787 & A380 Services to Increase


Passengers using Dulles airport will have more options to fly the 787 Dreamliner and A380. For these airlines to use the newest and most technologically advanced aircraft shows how important and competitive the Washington market has become in recent years. In my opinion, the quality of your flight experience truly depends on the aircraft you fly.


British Airways: Service scheduled to begin October 2 with flight BA 216/217. The will be the second airline – after Air France – to fly the A380 to Dulles.

787 Dreamliner

Virgin Atlantic: British Airways arch rival will deploy the Dreamliner aircraft to Dulles effective December 17, 2014.

Etihad: The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will use the 787-9 effective January 1, 2015.

Note: Ethiopian currently uses the 787 for service to IAD.

Will D.C. get an ITSU or Caffe Nero?

As Americans care more about where their food is sourced from and turn less to the dinosaur chains of the 80’s and 90’s for grub, be on the lookout for two global players intent on benefiting from our love of fast-casual food. U.K.-based ITSU plans to re-enter the market (New-York) next year with its high-quality sushi offerings. ITSU was founded by Julian Metcalfe who also served as the co-founder of Pret A Manger. He’ll be well aware of the initial struggles Pret faced when first dishing out pre-packed sandwiches to us Yanks. 

This blog reached out to their press office as to whether D.C. was a target city, but the response was vague and – to be honest – unhelpful. Caffe Nero, a U.K.-based coffee chain, has already opened up shop in Boston with plans to open up more locations in that metro area. Caffe Nero seems to be positioning itself as an upscale Italian coffee shop to differentiate itself from the ubiquitous Starbucks. 

We’re confident that – at some point – both ITSU and Caffe Nero will open up in D.C. We have the right demographics, economy, and awareness for these new kids on the block to invade our city. Stay tuned…

Rosslyn Needs Better Dining Options

Pitiful. The best adjective that I can think of to describe the dining options in Rosslyn. The area bounded by North Lynn Street is even worse. It is astonishing to see an area filled with many professionals having such limited dining options. Hence, I’m compiling a wish list.

1. Prêt A Manger (Please replace Cosi)

2. Le Pain Quotidien or PAUL Bakery

3. Nando’s

4. Potbelly

5. Caffe Nero (First U.S. outpost in Boston)

6. Itsu Sushi (Considering US Expansion)

7. Five Guys

8. & Pizza

9. McDonalds (An upscale one, please) 

Good Wife Composer Pushes Boundaries in Season 5

It’s been a roller coaster ride on season five of the CBS hit television drama The Good Wife. To accompany the twists and turns of each episode has been the elegant score that compliments the drama perfectly. D.C. Internationalist caught up again with composer David Buckley who has been creatively inspired to push the boundaries of t.v. show music.

DCI: How would you define this season’s music?

DB: We took a change in direction this season. We felt we did not need to be restricted by the character or tone of the music from the past. What prompted this change was the tumultuous events that happened when Will & Diane and Alicia & Cary go their own way. It was like a rebirth for both these parties, and thus it was felt the music too could redefine itself. I have often played around with classical/baroque string figures in the episodes, but now in season 5, these ideas really get crystalized and come to the forefront. Strings, piano, mandolin and woodwinds are all part of the pallet. Having said which, if an episode requires a more ambient approach, then we will do that rather than trying to jam in anything inappropriate.

DCI: Has it been intentional to extend scene music into the title card?

DB: We have always extended the scene music into the title card, but in the old days we primarily went into the same regular main credit music. Now the main title music varies for each episode. This is fun as it makes it episode specific. Again though, if there is no good reason to do this we revert to our original piece.

DCI: What is it like working with Robert and Michelle King?

DB: Robert and Michelle are fantastic. Episode 505 (the big episode) was temped with a load of tracks using just a drum kit (I don’t know who wrote them). I did not care for it and asked Robert if he liked it. He felt it did the job but did not need me to emulate it and in fact asked me to find another way of creating a similar energy but in another musical setting. I came up with these baroque motor cues and Robert loved them. That’s not to say I can write anything and he will say ‘yes, sure!’. He has a strong opinion and we often backwards and forwards before we find what he wants. But they (and the other producers) are both very keen that I should be able to widen my musical universe and not be restricted by the standard tropes of t.v. music.

DCI: What are some of your favorite cues? And where do you get your inspiration from?

DB: My favorite cues this season are from episode 501, 505 and 514. There are others too, like Fake Rental Company (from an episode I cannot recall). Prior to this season, I loved writing the cues for the relationship between Will and Alicia. Inspiration comes from Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli, Will, Alicia, Robert, Michelle, David Zucker…the list goes on!

Re-Imagining The Rest Stop

You’d be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time upon entering the old incarnation of the Maryland House rest stop. As a frequent traveller on I-95, I too thought I had warped back to the 80’s. But last month, a gleaming new facility was unveiled to the public. Better food options. Lighter and welcoming spaces. Clean and modern facilities. This is the Maryland House of the future. Operated by Areas, USA and designed by Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, the new Maryland House is set to capture the public imagination. 
It also begs the question; why can’t other rest stops be just as good if not better? Quite a few en route to New-York could do with a face list and Maryland House should serve as an inspiration. The State of Maryland executed a public-private partnership which allowed the rest stops to be upgraded. Commuters need better services and food options when traveling and state governments need to respond to those needs.
Unfortunately, some states such as California have strict laws that prohibit private retailers from operating at rest stops. Such laws were enacted to protect local businesses operating by major highways. Sadly, such laws do not not promote healthy competition. I should not have to drive off the beaten path to find a dining facility. In this day-and-age, people look for convenience. Not headaches. 



Renderings: ASG/Chesapeake House (Opening Summer 2014)

Hot Off The Press: Brewing Coffee Wars

As we tweeted last night, it appears the La Boulange food range by Starbucks is set to hit D.C. area stores at the end of March. We checked with our local store in NoVA which is currently receiving new equipment to handle the new offerings. At the same time, D.C. Internationalist received a press release which announced the upcoming debut of London-based coffee chain Caffè Nero in…wait for it…Boston. The location at Boston’s Millennium Place will be the chain’s first U.S. outpost. Sorry Washingtonians. 

“We’re looking to bring European coffee house culture to the United States,” said Jay Gentile, director of U.S. operations for Caffè Nero. “Caffè Nero is an accessible, friendly coffee house where customers are welcome to grab a bite to eat, meet friends, catch up on work or simply read and relax.”

In order to be successful, Caffè Nero must differentiate themselves from the competition, build brand awareness, and understand their local market without compromising their identity. They are likely to be be seen as a competitor to Starbucks. Not Dunkin. In the past, British businesses entering the restaurant biz in the U.S. have had mixed results. When Pret A Manger entered the American market, they failed to do their homework. They over-expanded and realized that us Yanks have slightly different tastes compared to our British cousins. As The New-York Times reported, Pret realized Americans are not fond of mayonnaise and prefer drip coffee over espressos. Oh, we also like to shake our salads too. The sandwich chain ended up closing some stores, re-tooling their product, and eventually bounced back. Keep in mind that their success today is partially due to the fast-casual craze and the demand for healthier food. 

Caffè Nero will open more locations in Boston, but no additional details were provided. If I were their real estate agent, I’d stick to the city and establish a presence in prominent areas to “introduce” the brand. Harvard Square, anyone? Boston’s Logan Airport would be an intriguing choice. What a clever way to get locals introduced to the brand at place seeing thousands of potential customers each day. I’d recommend the Back Bay station, but I hear it’s pitiful compared to Union Station in D.C.