Hotel ready to unveil new rooftop terrace, pool


The Embassy Row Hotel plans to reopen its rooftop terrace June 15. (Courtesy of The Embassy Row Hotel/Courtesy of The Embassy Row Hotel)

You know summer is around the corner when people start talking pools.

The Embassy Row Hotel on Massachusetts Avenue NW, just steps from Dupont Circle, is getting ready to show off the first phase of a $15 million renovation, punctuated by a 4,130-square-foot rooftop terrace with swimming pool and the requisite cabanas.

The rooftop getaway is scheduled to open June 15. Locals can enjoy it all without having to stay in the hotel by subscribing to a pool membership for $500.

The Embassy Row Hotel — known for its white brick exterior — originally opened Dec. 15, 1970. It has gone through several owners, and its restaurant, Le Consulat, was once known as a watering hole for ambassadors, dignitaries and political types.

The new rooftop menu is designed by Carlo de Leon, who recently appeared as a guest judge on Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” competition. The selection will include whitefish tacos, local sausages, crab cake sandwich, ramen burger, edamame cilantro hummus and dinosaur kale salad.

Dinosaur?

Cocktails will include sidecars, spring fizzes and a mysterious “rooftop escape.”

The two design firms handling the renovation are HVS Design of Rockville, which handled the interiors, and Jonathan Nehmer & Associates, also of Rockville, which was the lead architect.

Lowe Enterprises acquired the Embassy Row Hotel last November in a joint venture acquisition with Guardian and Allstate Insurance. Destination Hotels manages the property.

The Buzz hears:

Bereket Woldu, a former top executive with District-based Colonial Parking, is organizing a marathon in Ethi­o­pia.

That’s right. The Alexandria resident said the 26.2-mile run will be June 8 in the land that produces some of the world’s greatest long-distance runners. It also produces lots of employees for Colonial Parking, which is one of the charity event’s biggest backers.

Woldu, who came to the United States from Ethi­o­pia in 1971, is looking to raise $300,000 for an orphanage in Addis Ababa. But he is starting out small, hoping to attract 100 runners to pay $150 each to enter the race, which starts at 8,000 feet above sea level.

Reaching $300,000 “is a long shot,” said the parking maven, who now serves as a top adviser to the chairman of the Forge Co., which is Colonial’s parent company. “Like anything else, you start with baby steps.”

He reminded us that the New York City Marathon, one of the largest in the world, started small, too, with a reported 127 runners circling Central Park in 1970.

The orphanage is for children of parents who died from AIDS virus. In some cases, the children themselves have HIV.

Colonial is one of the largest employers of Ethiopians outside of Ethi­o­pia.

Silver Diner is to open its 13th Washington region restaurant, in Waldorf, in mid-June. The cost of the 5,800-square-foot location (leasehold and equipment) is $3.1 million. The restaurant will employ 114 associates and five managers. In addition to the dozen stops in this area, there is one restaurant in Glen Allen, Va., and one in Cherry Hill, N.J. In addition, Silver Diner owners plan to open a new concept called “Silver” next year in Bethesda.

Accountant to try hand at running a blow-dry bar

Laurie Tucker, 38, is leaving a six-figure job as an accountant specializing in employee benefits (think 401(k)s) at Aronson in Rockville to become an entrepreneur. The Akron, Ohio, native and mother of two is sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a blow-dry bar, nail and waxing retail ad­ven­ture that opens next month in Downtown Crown, a planned community near Gaithersburg.

Tucker, a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, is buying a franchise from Toronto-based Blow Blo Dry Bar. The half-hour blow session spruces up women — and men — at a fraction of the price of a traditional salon.

Tucker will continue to work at Aronson part-time. She paused to answer a couple of questions from the Buzz.

Why on earth are you giving up a six-figure job to open a hair place?

I am ready for a change. I am ready to spice my life up a little bit. This is also my girly time, so this is fun.

What advice do you have for other professional women who yearn to run their own business?

Go for it. It’s an amazing experience. I’m learning every day about lease agreements, franchise agreements, picking out a construction company to do the buildout, getting all the licenses, interviewing prospective employees. It’s exciting.

What has been the most difficult part of the learning curve?

Juggling everything from accounting to expenses to just being a good manager. It’s very demanding. You definitely need a business background.

Sounds scary.

It’s scary and exciting at the same time. If I screw up, it all comes back to me. Then I can jump back into accounting.

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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