Main Dish

City Plows it Back On

February 14, 2010

You shovel it off and the City plows it back on. Kind of like an old Laurel and Hardy script, except Griffin Market owner Riccardo Bonino isn’t laughing.  Thursday and Friday, he dug out his business right down to the brick sidewalk, even clearing the sidewalk intersections out to the street. He wanted cars and pedestrians to be safer. 

This morning, he arrived to find new piles of snow towering over his head and sidewalks buried in tons of cement-like ice and snow. It was practically impossible to get from the street to the store. 

Could this have been an unintended result of a late-breaking City snow clearing strategy? Mayor Adrian Fenty was in Georgetown Thursday demonstrating Bobcat plows in Georgetown to handle the unusual tonnage. Some critics say the city-wide strategy chose cars over pedestrians, even in Georgetown, where most people walk more than drive.

The City dumped street snow all over the cleared sidewalks in front of Griffin Market instead of in tree boxes. "There's now a mountain on each corner," he said.  "It should be taken to public areas that are not used where it could melt."

Who's to blame . . . a misfiring Bobcat? An overburdened snow clearing operation? Or the unavoidable results of apocalyptic snow?

Riccardo Bonino owner of the popular neighborhood Griffin Market at 28 & P Streets, observing the mountain range of snow blocking his entrance.  With him is frequent customer Larry Folk, whose wife Diane runs the nearby P St. Consignment Shop.

Bonino points out the spot where a path to his store was buried by street clearing operations overnight


Thursday morning, just a day after the blizzard, James Price and Riccardo Bonino shoveled snow to open the Griffin Market -- before City plows buried sidewalks again Friday night.

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UrbanDaddy Gets its Groove on at W Party

February 13, 2010

UrbanDaddy, the online lifestyle magazine for affluent men, officially launched its Washington bureau with a hopping party at the W -- announcing Jeff Dufour, former "Yays & Nays" columnist at the Washington Examiner and arbiter of D.C. style, as head of the new bureau.

Since its 2005 launch, UrbanDaddy has grown to reach an audience of 1.2 subscribers inWashington, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. It is sometimes called a male version of DailyCandy, which investor Bob Pittman's Pilot Group sold to Comcast for $125 million. Not bad during a recession -- or any time, actually.

Dufour, a Georgetown graduate, cut his journalistic teeth at Condé Nast in New York, writing for GQ and Vanity Fair as well as Bon Appétit and Condé Nast Traveler. Dufour returned to Washington in 2002 where, as features editor of The Hill newspaper, he took the reigns of "Under The Dome," the gossip column. In 2006, Dufour helped launch the D.C. Examiner with partner Patrick Gavin and became known for his especially literary reviews of restaurants and culture.

Guests included The Georgetown Dish columnist Emily Miller, Hisaoka Communications president Wendy Gordon, also a Dish columnist, Juleanna Glover of the Ashcroft Group, Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, Matt Dornic of Fishbowl, Talk Radio Network's John McCaslin, Katy Adams of FOX; Todd and Ellen Gray of Equinox restaurant, Dufour's better half Jayne Sandman and Barbara Martin of Fingerprint DC,  Steve Cheveney of Fox, the Washington Nationals' Stan Kasten, Winston Lord, Meet the Press's Betsy Fischer, CNN's Amy Holmes, Tommy McFly of 107.3, Kate Michaels of the District Dish, Alison Starling of WJLA,  Becca Glover of DailyCall, Nikki Schwab of the Washington Examiner, Christina Wilkie of The Hill, Jonathan Martin of Politico, venture capitalist Mark Ein, and photographer Tony Powell. Read more at UrbanDaddy.


Loren Streit, Philippe Lanier, and Pirooz Sarshar. Photos by Tony Powell

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Georgetown Beauty Gets Under Your Skin

February 11, 2010

True beauty is beyond skin deep, but why not start there?

Alchimie Forever, the unique Georgetown skin care studio and product line, is coming to the rescue of time-limited and stressed-filled lives with alchemy-like remedies in a new space near Wisconsin & M.

Alchimie, the modern French version of the Persian word kimie, is both a philosophy and an ancient practice focused on the attempt to change base metals into gold -- metaphorically, the search for an "elixir of longevity" leading to ultimate wisdom.  

Fast forward to today's Georgetown. Under the leadership of co-founder Ada Polla, Alchimie Forever is not just eliminating the ravages of time and stress on the human body, but helping clients create lasting, lifelong beauty through a philosophy of health and balance. It all starts with Polla, Swiss daughter of a dermatologist and biomedical researcher -- a determined entrepreneur who has skin care in the genes.

Ada learned at the elbow of Geneva-based parents Luigi and Barbara Polla, who started using laser technology in the 1980s to advance non-cutting medical techniques for the skin. The idea was to improve the features of the face with subtelty, rather than making drastic changes. Ada, coming to Georgetown two decades later, wanted to find a way to extend serious, non-medical dermatologic practices to a broader audience. Thus, Alchimie Forever was born.

Barely starting her studies at Georgetown's graduate school of business after earning an Art History degree at Harvard, Ada developed the concept of a skin care studio in Georgetown as a base for marketing a line of carefully crafted serums, scrubs and creams that Alchimie Forever now creates. Father Luigi uses his clinical practice to identify patient needs, mother Barbara works at the cellular level to develop the formulas, and Ada creates the strategies to get the products to people.

The tiny family business is becoming a respectable multinational. The composed 32-year-old Ada and her team just signed a five-year lease at 1010 Wisconsin Ave., after several years in smaller spaces. Annual revenues are about $1 million. This from a humble start just a few years ago in a studio apartment in the Paper Mill. "The unit was so tiny we kept the credit card machine next to my bed," she says. "That caused a few jokes."

All kidding aside, the business is growing and bringing a unique line of products to Georgetown and beyond. Polla proudly points out that hers is the only beauty product business based in Washington. Polla says the region is in serious need. "There is a dearth of self-care here," she says. "People don't take time for themselves."

Alchimie Forever aims to change that. Polla recommends that clients take 15 minutes at the start and end of each day to cleanse and nurture the face. "In my life, it's the only time I take for myself, and it's very important," she says. The products rely on natural plant extracts such as blueberry, rosemary, tomato and grape, rather than retinoid or synthetic acids. Each extract  works separately to make skin firmer and smoother, reducing redness, roughness and spots. 

Ada tried to conceal her disapproval when I told her I had been using only soap, water and a washcloth on my face. What kind of soap was it? I had no idea. She patiently suggested a cleanser and moisturizer whose natural scent picks me up and makes my face come to life. Within a few days, there was visible, significant improvement. My skin looked better, I looked younger. Would you believe I'm 25? Well, maybe 26. Thanks to Ada, you might be fooled.

"We're making the world a better place," Polla says confidently. "People are happier if they take good care of themselves."

Looking at the complexions of Polla and her partner Rachel Johnson, it's clear they are onto something. And they are blessed with some powerful friends and fans. Dr. Tina Alster, Georgetown's dermatologist to the stars, met Ada's father Luigi at Harvard and became Alchimie Forever's first customer. "She bought six of everything," Ada says. "I keep the order framed on the wall."

Alchimie Forever's typical client lives in Georgetown, where facials as well as consultations are offered. Most clients are in their 30s and 40s. "We have one loyal customer who is 83. Isn't that great?" Polla asks sincerely. "And then I have friends who are moms who spread the products on their babies' bottoms."

Polla and her business, sparkling, determined and fearless, represent a spirit that might be called the Alchemy of Georgetown. Make that Alchimie...

Photos courtesy of Alchimie Forever, Marie Claire, and Elle.

Read more here.

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