Capital Buzz: Northern Virginia construction executives hope for another restaurant hit

MHG Group of Northern Virginia is planning to open its third Circa bistro later this month at the corner of 23rd and I streets NW in the District’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

MHG is owned by Virginia construction bigwigs Jim Millar, Brett Hitt and Russell Hitt, owners of Hitt Contracting, and businessman Steve Gavula, who is the company’s president.

The Circa restaurants at Dupont Circle and in Clarendon are both profitable. Gavula, who runs MHG day-to-day, said the investors are confident that they can repeat their success with the upscale bistro/bar concept in Foggy Bottom.

“I’ve been working on this location for five years, talking with Ray Ritchey, the gentleman who runs the building for Boston Properties, and it fell into this kind of timing,” Gavula said.

The new restaurant will be 4,200 square feet inside with 1,500 square feet of patio space.

MHG also owns Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea in McLean.

Destination: profits

Sterling-based Destination Cellars, a luxury food and travel club for wine enthusiasts, is closing a $1 million round of funding led by local chief executive Allen Cage of AOC Solutions. Other investors include Chad MacDonald of ServiceForce USA and Justin Wender, former president of Castle Harlan private equity.

Destination Cellars was founded in 2007 by David Keuhner. This is Keuhner’s fourth start-up. He was also involved in JTECH Communications, a subsidiary of Micros of Laurel, Opentable.com and Fishbowl Marketing of Alexandria.

Keuhner plans to use the money for expansion in the United States and Asia.

A growth business

The Growth Coach, owned by Annapolis grad and former submariner Ingar Grev, has signed a one-year consulting contract with Philadelphia Gas Works to deliver sales training and coaching to their sales and marketing organization. 

Grev, 43, who opened the local franchise in 2007, provides strategic consulting, executive coaching, and sales coaching services to small businesses in the national capital region as well as larger companies nationwide. Grev’s local clients include Chesapeake Utilities, MarcParc (the District parking lot company), the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Crystal City’s Americana Hotel.  The Growth Coach is a business coaching franchise system with  franchises in more than 140 markets across North America.

Kastles home opener

Mark Ein’s Washington Kastles open their 2011 team tennis season Tuesday at a new location in the District’s Southwest Waterfront. The new Kastles Stadium, which includes catered, VIP courtside tables and courtside box seats with waiter service, seats 2,600.

The Kastles are named for Kastle Systems, which is Ein’s Arlington-based key card company, and are part of World TeamTennis. The Kastles debut against the Kansas City Explorers, the first of 14 appearances — seven home, seven away — through July.

The Kastles spent their first three seasons at CityCenter at 11th and H streets. Many local business moguls, such as Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein and former AOL chairman Steve Case, have been seen courtside during past seasons.

Ein, who is a respected amateur tennis player, has the team on a path to profitability, according to a spokesman.

“We are thrilled to bring our fans and Kastles Stadium to a beautiful part of town that has been somewhat forgotten but we believe will emerge as one of the hottest areas in the city over the next decade,” Ein said.

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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