Capital Buzz: D.C. chef gets in on the noodle craze

Len DePas/Len DePas - A soba noodle salad from Newton’s Noodles, which is opening this month in Dupont Circle.

What is it about Washington that has people going noodle-crazy?

Chipotle’s noodle-centric ShopHouse is expanding to the West Coast after a two-year trial in the District’s Dupont Circle.

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Toki Underground, near the Verizon Center, has noodle fanatics coming from miles away to try its ramen.

Now Washington entrepreneur chef Dennis Friedman — who owns the upscale Newton’s Table in Bethesda — is getting in on the act. He is opening Newton’s Noodles this month in Dupont.

“Noodles are comforting, noodles are familiar and the [profit] margins are the best,” said Friedman, who comes from a family of D.C. entrepreneurs.

From a food perspective, “noodles can be a blank canvas for whatever you want,” Friedman said.

Newton’s Noodles will open in the next two weeks at 1120 20th NW, between L and M streets.

Friedman, who visited many noodle restaurants as part of his research, said he plans to replicate Newton’s Noodles if the first one takes off. He said the investment in the first store is less than $500,000.

First and foremost, he said, the food must taste good and be affordable.

“You can come in and walk away with noodles for $8,” said the Potomac native. “The signature dish is $9, but you can build your own noodle dish. We know people love beef wonton, tuna bites, ahi tuna bites and ka pow chicken. We also will have spring rolls.”

Friedman, who worked with celebrity chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Michel Richard, is premiering a new utensil — the chorck — which is half fork and half chopsticks, to help noodlers move the slippery devils from plate to mouth.

Factoid of the Week

$200,000 That is what Carlyle Group is paying former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to speak at its annual investor conference in Washington next week. (Politico reported the engagement earlier.) Private equity has been very, very kind to the Clintons. Last year, Carlyle paid a similar amount to Hilary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton.

On your mark, get set ...

Last November, months before the rest of the city caught wind that the nonprofit group DC 2024 was exploring efforts to have Washington host the 2024 Olympics, Akin Gump attorney Tony Pierce got an e-mail from Bob Sweeney, president of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, who is leading the charge for the Olympics bid.

“He reached out to me to see if we would support the effort and be the law firm to help form the organization,” Pierce, the partner in charge of Akin Gump’s Washington office, told Capital Business staff writer Catherine Ho.

Pierce and colleagues Howard Jacobson and Ken Alderfer advised on how to incorporate DC 2024, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. They will now shift their focus to advising on fundraising issues as the group looks to drum up financial support.

“There’s going to be a myriad of other issues likely to come up as this organization does its fundraising, which is going to be all private money,” Pierce said. “Once that is done and the organization has sound financial footing, we will then advise it on all kinds of other issues.”

Down the road, those could include issues arising from corporate sponsorships, advertising and supplying apparel and beverages at the games.

Akin Gump, one of the largest law firms in the city, is doing the work pro bono. Pierce said he may later reach out to other law firms if the need arises.

Flexing their muscles

Here comes Life Time Athletic, owned by Life Time Fitness, a publicly-owned $1.2 billion market cap company based in Minneapolis, which is debuting a sprawling facility in Reston Sept. 13.

Life Time has been in the region since 2000, but the $30-million-plus Reston club represents a more aggressive stance to capi­tal­ize on the local demographic.

“The demographics and the psychographic of the Virginia market really maps closely to the customers that we are looking to try to attract and retain,” said Life Time Executive Vice President Jeff Zwiefel. “Our strategy is to go after the top 20 percent of the marketplace.”

That price ranges from $140 monthly for a single membership to $290 a month.

The 114,000-square-foot facility will house 400 pieces of equipment, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a pair of full-sized basketball courts. Reston will be Life Time’s sixth location in the Washington market and is set to employ 275.

The new location is at 1757 Business Center Dr.

The Buzz hears:

Health care entrepreneur David Blair, former chief executive of Catalyst Health Solutions, which was sold earlier this year to SXC Health Solutions, may be joining Ted Leonsis’s Monumental Sports & Entertainment as an equity partner. The ownership group already includes nearly 20 local business people such as BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, investor Raul Fernandez, CapitalOne founder Richard D. Fairbank, IT veteran Roger Mody, Mark Lerner of Lerner Enterprises and investment whiz Fred Schaufeld.

FroZenYo, the District-based frozen yogurt chain run by entrepreneur Chuck Rendelman, on Aug. 16 opened its first store outside the Washington market with a franchise in downtown Boston. Rendelman also signed a deal to develop 25 FroZenYos in Kentucky and Ohio.

 
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