Next Wave in Restaurants: Sponsored by Google?

DC celebrity chef Jose Andres filming the debut of his new cooking show for PBS at his home in Bethesda, Maryland.
DC celebrity chef Jose Andres filming the debut of his new cooking show for PBS at his home in Bethesda, Maryland. (Marvin Joseph - Marvin Joseph - The Washington Post)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Step aside, Verizon Center! You too, FedEx Field! Celebrity chef José Andrés has a vision for the restaurant business: corporate sponsorship.

The hottest ticket in D.C. is his four-star Minibar: Customers often wait a month for a reservation at one of the restaurant's six seats, then pay $120 apiece (plus wine, tax and tip) for 30 tiny, exquisite courses. Now he's planning to replace his Cafe Atlantico with an expanded 36-seat Minibar -- and is considering selling naming rights to a corporation.

"A place like the Minibar needs so many chefs to perform at the highest level," he told us yesterday. "Many people say I'm nuts. I see it as a possibility."

Andrés and partner Rob Wilder (Jaleo, Oyamel, Zaytinya) bought out Cafe Atlantico's other investors, and acquired most of the Eighth Street NW building it's housed in. Andrés told "Bisnow on Business" newsletter that naming rights is the wave of the future: It's a logical extension of a cultural trend, and great for a corporation looking to work with a high-end restaurant and chef. Of course, not any company will do. He told Bisnow it's got to be something innovative, something cool -- like Google, not Frito-Lay.

The price tag? Andrés wouldn't say, but corporations shell out millions for stadium deals (the Redskins get a reported $7 million a year from FedEx).

Alas, foodies -- the expansion is on the back griddle. The 38-year-old Spanish chef is busy launching a new hotel in Los Angeles with designer Philippe Starck and his "Made in Spain" PBS show in February. Andrés told us he expects to have a sponsor by late 2008 or early 2009.

Hey, Isn't That ...

* Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and a peace-symbol-wearing Graham Nash power-breakfasting at Palette yesterday morning before a Capitol Hill trip to lobby against federal bucks for nuclear power (and maybe resurrect their "No Nukes" concerts of 1979). All three classic-rock icons had oatmeal, Raitt (wearing all black, her flame-red hair down) adding soy milk. Didn't want her raisins so she gave them to Browne.

Where Real Estate Is Still Hot: Stars' Homes Under Siege in Malibu

Malibu -- hotter than ever, no thanks to epic blazes sweeping the coastal California VIP enclave. Here, a list of Hollywood types whose mansions are said to be in the line of fire. Where will they go? Their other homes, we guess.

* Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson

* Courteney Cox and David Arquette

* Olivia Newton-John

* Sting


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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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