Capital Buzz: This new business is built on a diet of protein

Chicago-based Protein Bar opens in Penn Quarter at 7th and D streets NW in mid-July, the first of 15 stores that founder Matt Matros has planned for this region.

Matros, 33, who came up with the concept in 2009 after losing 60 pounds by following a high-protein diet, said Washington is ripe for chez Protein.

“It’s the most similar [market] to Chicago,” he said. Washingtonians “are largely urban professionals who work hard and need a quickie, fast, healthy lunch.”

A second store is already booked at Ballston, at the the base of the 300,000-square-foot JBG building where Accenture just moved.

Matros plans to spend around $800,000 to fit out of the Penn Quarter location, and he is moving to Washington for a couple of months to get the stores started. He is also relocating nine employees to Washington, and hiring 80 to 100 locals by year’s end.

The Southern California native, who attended the University of Southern California and then the University of Michigan, said he spent $250,000 in savings and borrowed from the Small Business Administration to start the company.

The Buzz hears:

Sid Banerjee’s Clarabridge has signed a deal with government officials in British Columbia to help the province find out what their voters are thinking.

Clarabridge has been sifting through customer feedback for Fortune 1000 clients such as Marriott, Choice Hotels, Best Buy, Gaylord, AOL and QVC. Now the firm is branching into government and going international.

Entertainment Cruises has added the 124-foot National Elite this summer to its Potomac fleet, to be berthed at National Harbor Marina. It will be the first private charter yacht at the marina. Odyssey, Spirit of Mount Vernon and Spirit of Washington are docked at the Southwest Waterfront.

The three-deck yacht can host buffet dinners for up to 120 and host cocktail receptions for 149.

Web-based dogsitting services DogVacay, headquartered in Los Angeles, has invaded Washington. Dog lovers and first-time entrepreneurs Aaron and Karine Hirschhorn are in Washington May 22 to make the rounds and get some publcity around the site. The service, which helps dog owners find local residents to dogsit, will be in nine cities by the end of the month. DogVacay is backed by former MySpace Chief Executive Mike Jones.

Mark Ein’s Washington Kastles World Team Tennis franchise has bagged the Washington Area Cadillac Dealers Association as the team’s official automobile partner.

The deal includes signage at Kastles stadium at The Wharf, television broadcast sponsorship, giveaways and hospitality experiences.

A real tweet

Carlyle Group’s chief PR guy Chris Ullman is a just-minted inductee of the Whistling Hall of Fame.

Ullman is the four-time national and international whistling champion. When he’s not puckering and blowing for presidents (George W. Bush in the Oval Office), members of Congress, Supreme Court justices or symphony orchestras (10 and counting) — he’s calling hundreds of people a year on their birthdays … including journalists.

Ullman’s Hall of Fame plaque resides next to his very own concert poster, circa 1999, from a gig he did for Securities and Exchange Commission colleagues — he even whistled in his SEC job interview with then-SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt.

Now Ullman is putting those prize lips to use for So Others Might Eat. He’s raffling 10 Happy Birthday whistles for $25 a chance.

I get mine for free, but I’m still entering.

A room with a view

Mark it on the calendar.

The inauguration is eight months away, and already Marriott International is cashing in on the festivities.

Its flagship JW Marriott Washington, the 772-room luxury hotel astride Pennsylvania Avenue, is lathering up its 12th-floor terrace for a four-night inaugural celebration.

For a mere $2.7 million, you get a Google-Earth view of the inaugural parade below while you stay comfy and warm inside the glass-enclosed gallery above; 300 guest rooms for four nights, including two luxury presidential suites in case you want to play commander-in-chief; $800,000 in food and beverage; and nightly “inaugural amenities” — whatever that is.

The party starts Jan. 18.

Factoid of the week:

Savage-based Coastal Sunbelt Produce shipped more than 2 million strawberries last week — double the average — to its stores, hotels, country clubs and restaurants throughout the mid-Atlantic, according to chief executive John Corso. “Strawberries are a popular and versatile dessert choice this time of year, as they are strongly associated with spring and summer,” Corso 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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