Main Dish

Saving the Economy (One Pair of Shoes at a Time)

March 9, 2010

What better way to celebrate spring than plucking a sassy, sexy, new pair of shoes in Georgetown? In the nick of time comes SimplySoles -- the brand new shoe emporium in Georgetown Park

"Our favorite quote of the season is 'Saving the economy one pair of shoes at a time,'" says founder Kassie Rempel, whose website encourages you to "peek in my closet."

Now you can do even better.

The Mt. Pleasant resident opened a new store in the mall after wanting a store in Columbia Heights. "I thought, Columbia Heights is the up-and-coming place," she said. But high rents and a few crime scares -- plus an aggressive effort by Georgetown Park -- convinced her to bring her collection to the mall on M Street.

The rent was less. Who would have thunk? Because of ongoing litigation over the future of the mall, SimplySoles was only offered a two-year lease, max. "It requires a lot of investment to build out a store with such a short lease," Rempel said.

Such arrangements inevitably hurt the somewhat sleepy cave of shops.

Nonetheless, "It feels right to be in Georgetown," she said.

The store does feel right, filled with bright colors, shapes and temptations that can't be ignored. Bring a credit card. Bring two.

"On a cost-per-wear basis, shoes -- namely those well-crafted and timeless in style -- keep in shape and in fashion," she says. Besides "the perfect black dress, white shirt and flattering pair of jeans -- shoes are the best investment in your wardrobe."

Economic stimulus in Georgetown? Sole mate.

Photos by RJSmith

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Shoe-shaped butter cookies and pink champagne sweetened the opening steps of the new store.

So many shoes, so little time!

SimplySoles founder Kassie Rempel talks with fellow Georgetown Park merchant Lorenzo Caltagirone of Total Party.

Kassie listens to a customer.

Maria McGinley, West End resident, shops in Georgetown with her dog, "Summer."


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Amalfi on the Potomac!

March 7, 2010

Who needs azul seas and white sand beaches? As the mercury reached hard toward the upper 50s, Georgetowners quickly moved outside Saturday afternoon to catch the first brave rays and enjoy early hints of...what did they used to call it, pre-Snowmageddon? That season without snow? In which flowers might exist...outside?

Irene Howie and Rege Matlak warm up the terrazo at Cafe Milano.

Cara Brown, Kate Lewis, Kelsey Brown and Ben Schryber take a break from shopping at Paolo's...

Maya Linson, a recent graduate of the Medill journalism program, with Sydney McCall and Daniel Morris, lunching at the Booeymonger, where Daniel ate breakfast every morning while studying at Georgetown. "I still know lots of people in there," he said. "We wanted to introduce our friend Maya to this place," said Sydney, who appears to have made peace with Daniel despite the rivalry between Georgetown and her own alma mater, GWU.


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Evans Camp puts on the Ris for Fundraiser

March 5, 2010

Councilmember Jack Evans was greeted by dozens of loyal supporters at a fundraiser for his constituent services account at Ris, the chic, almost New York hotspot in the West End. City poo-bahs from superlawyer David Wilmot to Georgetown fixture (turned Fenty administration assistant attorney general) Pat Allen mingled in the comfortable salon off the dining room, sipping good wine and nibbling splendid hors d'oeuvres.

It was a reunion of steadfast stalwarts (Barbara Kahlow of Foggy Bottom) to up-and-coming leaders (Alex Padro, Shaw) to Georgetown celebs like Nancy Taylor Bubes and Alan Bubes, CAG President Jennifer Altemus (making the rounds after touring brand new M29 via Bourbon Steak) and Peter Calafiura. (Pictured: Susan Frost, Robert Maffin of Logan Circle Community Association, and Foggy Bottom honcho Barbara Kahlow)

Altemus found out late about the event but traveled east of Georgetown in heavy traffic to say hello. "Somehow emails from Jack's office have been getting stuck in my spam folder," she said. "Isn't that terrible?" Despite a heavy schedule ahead including the the Georgetown Campus Plan and a full calendar of CAG-sponsored community events, Altemus, a Washington native and Georgetown Univ. alum holding an important role at the Library of Congress, is not slowed down by technology -- or anything else.

(Pictured: Asher Corson, Lindsey Fell, Peter Calafiura and CAG President Jennifer Altemus)

Other power women at the event included founder and chef Ris Lacoste with Jackie Ludden, events and marketing director, of the packed, eponymous West End bistro (pictured below right).

Ris (rhymes with "kiss," short for Doris) will be honored next month by the National Restaurant Association as a "D.C. Restaurant Star!" the first time the awards have been bestowed. Other honorees will include Michel Richard of Citronelle, Todd and Ellen Gray of Equinox, and Mike Curtin of D.C. Central Kitchen.

"It's really a test to open a new restaurant," said the longtime 1789 chef who conceived and is managing the jumping new venue. "I'm glad I didn't open a year ago, but we've created a space that suits the economy -- it's a great escape at a reasonable price. Plates are coming back clean. It's fabulous."

A different kind of culinary center is under construction across town -- developers of the historic O Street Market in Shaw expect a September opening, just in time for the Giant Food at 8th & O to close down for 18 months for a renovation. "You won't recognize it when it's finished," said Armond Spikell of Roadside Development, describing a concept that bore a resemblance to Georgetown's Dean & Deluca, at least aesthetically. (At left: Susan Vener Linsky and Armond Spikell flank Shaw booster Alex Padro.)

Asher Corson, President of the Foggy Bottom Association, and Lindsey Fell of Shaw were doing double civic duty. In addition to their after-hours appearance at Evans' fundraisier, they are fulltime staffers for Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh.

Jack Evans legislative aide Ruth Werner, with Rob Harlow and JoElla Straley of Petworth, self-described "fans of Jack."


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