Main Dish

Mayflower Blooms for Festive 85th

February 21, 2010

Family and friends joined Mayflower Hotel General Manager Satinder Palta to raise a special glass of bubbly Wednesday at a reception to kick off the venerable hotel's 85th anniversary year. The site of presidential inaugural balls since Calvin Coolidge's in 1925, the iconic hotel is celebrating with a special rate and a series of events, including a Diamond Dinner, Champagne & Orchids Ball, and Mother & Daughter Dress-Up Afternoon Teas. (Satinder with Hisaoka Communications President Wendy Gordon, right)

It was at the Mayflower that FDR threw birthday bashes, Winston Churchill attended a State Dinner, Ronald Reagan's and Gerald Ford's funerals were planned, where Eliot Spitzer a.k.a. George Fox had a number of expensive encounters with a female "escort," and John F. Kennedy, as a young Congressman, kept an apartment. J. Edgar Hoover ate lunch almost every day there for 20 years. And President Harry Truman lived at the Mayflower for 90 days, leading to its moniker as Washington's "second best address." (The "best address" would be... Georgetown?)

David Marriott, son of the famous hotel brothers Bill and Richard -- who own the hotel as part of Marriott's luxury Renaissance chain -- mingled jovially on the swish mezzanine level for the kickoff toast. True to the Marriott hallmarks of hard work and keeping business in the family, David started out as a sous chef in a Salt Lake City Marriott.

"I washed dishes, too," he said. Now that Marriott is a global hotel brand, it's easy to forget that it was a restaurant company for its first 30 years, starting as a root beer stand. Asked what he thought of a new USDA study claiming that eating out once a week causes an average two-pound weight gain per person per year, Marriott waved it off. "That's ridiculous," he said. He looked fit and trim, as do all the Marriotts. Maybe they don't eat out? "We eat out all the time," David said. (Pictured with Marriott's Gordon Lambourne, above.)

GM Palta described the days when a pre-presidential Barack Obama stayed at the hotel regularly. He had one Secret Service officer with him then. One morning, as Palta stepped outside his room to pick up the newspaper, he saw a shadow down the hall doing the same. "Hey Satinder, what are ya doing?" asked the junior Senator from Illinois.

"Going to work out," said the manager.

"I'll go with you," the future president said. They ended up playing pick-up basketball at the nearby YMCA. The Mayflower holds 15 memberships to the Y, so that guests can swim in an olympic-sized pool if they like. The Y is not just popular among hotel honchos and future presidents. Media bigwigs like Bloomberg's Al Hunt and The Washington Post's Amy Argetsinger work out there too.

Obama, Hunt and Argetsinger are just the latest denizens of a unique neighborhood anchored by the hotel. Marilyn Jarboe and John Mack (with Keith McClinsey,  pictured above) actually grew up at the Mayflower, where their father was General Manager from 1941-1970."In the 40s, there were only five hotels in town," said Jarboe. "We're Mayflower people. It's our family."

In anticipation of its 85th anniversary, the Mayflower issued an “amnesty” request for guests to return items that had been taken from or given away by the hotel throughout the years. Banquet chairs, the cufflinks of a former General Manager, even a bathtub are now displayed in the Treasures Returned exhibit curated by hotel historian Keith McClinsey.

The hotel will offer a special 85th Anniversary rooms package that is available weekends through February 2011. The rock-bottom rate is $185 per night and includes deluxe accommodations, breakfast for two in the Café Promenade, a bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards customized signature Mayflower 85th Anniversary Sparking Wine and a collection of 15 Historic Mayflower postcards. A deal like that has to cause a renaissance in the Washington hotel market.

The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel is located at 1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW. For more information, call 202-347-3000 or visit


Photos: Above right, Greg Thornton and Stephanie Johnson. "Oscar," a longtime Mayflower staff member, is honored, right. John Arundel, Associate Publisher of Washington Life, with Beth Solomon and WL's Senior Editor Kevin Chaffee. Above left, Capitol File's Jennifer Blacker with Chaffee.

Photos by RJSmith.

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Remembering Ray Browne: He Served

February 20, 2010

Friends and family gathered Friday at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown to celebrate the life and good work of longtime Georgetown resident Ray Browne.  Ray was known for his strong moral character, his meticulous style, his sense of public service to his neighborhood and Washington -- and his one vanity, always being tanned.

Ray was elected three times as the District’s unpaid shadow representative, charged with lobbying for congressional representation.  But he didn't just stay inside the Beltway.  At his own expense, he traveled the country to generate support for representation.  His long service in this sometimes thankless role led Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to remark that “Ray couldn’t have done his research before he ran for this non-paying job.” She was joined by the current shadow delegation, Senators Paul Strauss and Michael Brown and Representative Mike Panetta, as well as former Representatives Tom Bryant, John Capozzi and Charles Moreland.

Too devastated to take the lectern, no family members spoke at the funeral, but a diverse range of friends and officials described Ray's many kinds of service to his fellow man. He was an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, having struggled for many years with the addiction, then becoming a sponsor to help others. His fellow AA members said he was always available to help them.

Other friends and supporters added to Ray’s memory. Nelson Rimensnyder decried The Washington Post's seeming disinterest in the shadow delegation despite Browne's excellent service. District activist Sam Gough described Ray's top priorities: God, family and the District of Columbia. A representative of Mayor Adrian Fenty brought the flag that was flown at half-mast at the District Building following Ray's death Feb. 13 (photo by Mike Panetta).

A native Washingtonian, Ray graduated from Osbourn High School in Manassas after his family relocated to northern Virginia. Later, he ran track at the University of Maryland. He worked as a general agent for the Aetna insurance company in the Piedmont before starting his own insurance comopany. Ray also served as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Georgetown, a mediator for the D.C. Superior Court, and as vice chairman of the board of directors of the Hurt Home for severely emotionally disturbed youths. He was on the Mayor's Commission on Alcoholism and the District's drug strategy team.

Ray was nothing if not a gentle but straight talker. When former Mayor Marion Barry sought a comeback seat on the D.C. Council in 1990, Ray called on Barry to withdraw from the campaign to focus on his drug-abuse recovery. Ray also was one of the few politicians brave enough to criticize Rep. Norton at times for her handling of the campaign in Congress for full representation. But because of his work with Norton and Rep. Tom Davis, the House passed a D.C. voting rights bill in 2007, which failed in the Senate. He was 71.

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Martin's Hosts Georgetown Dish "Meeting"

February 16, 2010

The Georgetown Dish held a "staff meeting" at Martin's Monday night, starting at 6:00 and ending, well...we're not sure exactly. Bartender Kevin Delaney kept the nutritious grape- and wheat-based beverages flowing, leading to a highly successful meeting. Since the agenda was vague, it can reliably be said that everything was accomplished. In addition to Managing Editor Bonnie Cain, Associate Publisher Judith Beermann, Hollywood on the Potomac's Janet Donovan, Mary Bird, The Luxe Life's Tricia Huntley, Wendy Gordon, photographer Leslie Kamrad and intern Nika P. Nour, friends of the Dish including Kiki Ryan, Jackie Kucinich, Fran Berk, Alex Ruttenberg, Anne Hawke, David Bass, Tim Burger and Bruce Drake joined the "meeting."

When the gathering's convener warned Delaney that she had forgotten her wallet, he said, "You should have told me that after I poured you a drink." He then threatened to call the police, but soon began passing out the first of many delicious Stella Artoix. The Dish thanks its dear contributors and friends. Hitting new traffic records each week, it is attracting over 10,000 visitors per month.

Just so you know: "In the late 1890s, William S. Martin traveled from Galway, Ireland to America. Forty years later, he and his son, William G. Martin, opened Martin’s Tavern on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street NW."
In 1949, William G. Martin’s son, William A. Martin, joined the Tavern after serving in the Navy during World War II.  William A. Martin attended Georgetown University Medical School, and excelled as a Golden-Gloves boxer and Pro-Am golfer. His stories of “The Dugout,” recalling countless meetings with Speaker Sam Rayburn, Senator Lyndon Johnson, and other monumental Capitol Hill leaders, were passed on to his son, current owner Billy Martin.

Martin's recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.

Judith Beermann and Jackie Kucinich celebrate the 75th anniversary carefully.

Ron Newman is in charge at the bar, and as Martin's general manager.








Kevin Delaney does the important work behind the bar, while Bonnie Cain and Beth Solomon pose.

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