Buffett’s dinner: Beef and a Cherry Coke

The Economic Club of Washington rolled out a special head table — and laid in a special soft drink supply — at the Marriott Wardman Park in the District last Tuesday for the club’s 25th anniversary, where it hosted billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company owns around 21 percent of The Washington Post Co., and he is a former member of The Post’s board of directors.

Buffett, 81, sat between former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and attorney and former Economic Club President Vernon Jordan at the main table. Others at the table included MicroStrategy Chairman Michael J. Saylor, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, PricewaterhouseCoopers Washington region Managing Partner Chris Simmons, Smithsonian Institution Secretary Wayne Clough, Marriott International chief executive Arne M. Sorenson, Economic Club President David M. Rubenstein (co-founder of The Carlyle Group) and Rubenstein’s wife, Alice, among others.

The Nebraska-based investor, known for his taste for beef, passed on the crab-stuffed shrimp entree and requested a double portion of the filet mignon.

Economic Club Executive Director Mary Brady said she was advised by Buffett’s assistant, Debbie Bosanek, to keep things moving and find a supply of Cherry Coke (Buffett loves it as well as Coke stock; his Berkshire Hathaway owns Coca-Cola shares worth about $15 billion).

The Marriott Wardman Park, which is a Pepsi venue, made a special exception.

New hire

Julie Kantor, who for 17 years has been running the Washington office of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, had the entrepreneurial itch “to build something.”

So she is heading to Chris Hertz’s Barrel of Jobs start-up on New York Avenue.

Kantor, a Washington native and Sidwell Friends grad (1987), will be the chief strategy officer — and a part owner — of the new company, which goes live online in July.

Hertz is the founder of New Signature, a 70-employee technology firm that will share office space with Barrel at 1101 New York Ave. NW.

“I wrote to Chris and said I ... was looking for a proven entrepreneur to team up with,” said the uber-connected Kantor, whose grandfather was an early investor in Sanford Inc., the company that produced the Sharpie pen and dry eraser board.

Barrel of Jobs plans to use social media and crowdsourcing to target people who may already have jobs. It currently has eight employees and is going after $1 million to $1.5 million in a first-round of fundraising.

“It’s Monster.com, but with a unique twist, which is that 16 percent of the employed public is looking actively for a job. However there’s another 76 percent who are employed and not looking, but would be open to hearing about opportunities,” Kantor said.

The Buzz hears:

Susan Lacz is in San Francisco, directing Ridgewells’s catering for the 2012 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club. Lacz headed west last week. The golf tournament is one of Ridgewells’s biggest clients. The Bethesda-based catering firm has handled the Open for 14 years. “The U.S. Open hasn’t been on the West Coast since 1998, so the companies that underwrite the corporate tents are primed,” Lacz said in an e-mail. “Last year at Congressional Country Club we worked with 26 corporate tents. At Olympic we will have 37.”

New York-based Grouper LLC, which arranges outings for groups of friends using Facebook and sets them up for drinks at partner venues around the city, launches in the D.C. region today.

Local business executives Michael Powell, Mark Ein, Scott Brickman and Chris Donatelli helped bid up the 28 pieces of student art at last week’s fundraiser at the Mandarin Oriental, hosted by Monumental Sports Vice Chairman Raul Fernandez — who ponied up $5,000. The $14,000 raised goes and toward art supplies in D.C.’s schools.

Factoid of the Week

Gaithersburg’s DrinkMore Water sliced 25 percent off of its natural gas rate for the next three years because of falling prices. It also negotiated a new electricity contract. The two deals should save the bottled water delivery firm more than $80,000.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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