JUST AS MOVIE theaters don't like patrons to bring their own popcorn, hotels aren't too happy when guests order pizzas delivered to their rooms. So some hotels have started featuring pizza on their room service menus. The Grand Hyatt Washington on H Street carries the promotion even further, calling theirs Claudio's Pizzas to make them sound as if they really came from an Italian pizza parlor.
Now Nation's Restaurant News, a trade magazine, reports that some Hyatts, including the Hyatt Dulles, have expanded this concept to deliver Chinese food in little white cardboard carryout boxes in a brown paper bag with a menu stapled to it, as if it came from the little Chinese restaurant around the corner instead of the hotel kitchen. I'd rather this all went in the other direction, and Chinese restaurants delivered on rolling carts with the food kept hot under large silver bells.
Another trend hotels are beginning to copy from pizza carryouts is the guaranteed delivery time. Chicago's Hotel 21 East now promises the five-minute continental breakfast. The hotel guarantees on weekday mornings to deliver continental breakfast to rooms within five minutes of the placement of the order, or the breakfast is free. Unlike pizza deliveries, though, there is no fear of speeding carriers endangering other vehicles in their path.
They do this neat delivery trick by using walkie-talkies and service kitchens on each floor. It is so efficient, says the hotel, that on the first day one guest received his order while he was still on the phone placing it.
THOUGH WE ARE still waiting for Washington's first brewpub, the metropolitan area now has its own brewery, Old Dominion Brewing Co., in Ashburn, Va., near Dulles Airport. The brewery is open to the public for 45-minute tours Wednesday evenings by appointment and Saturdays at noon and 3 p.m. Call 860-BEER for more information.
And lest you underestimate the microbrewery trend, note that the Ice House Cafe in Herndon has four beers on tap and they are all from Virginia's microbreweries: Old Dominion (Dominion Lager) and Virginia Brewing Co. (Gold Cup, Dark Horse and Gold Cup Light).
FROM THE beginning, The Broker restaurant was an original. It was the lone Washington restaurant serving any Swiss dishes, it was nearly alone in making its own breads and it was so proud of its architectural design that it didn't put any decorations on the old, brick walls. The Broker brought life to its Eighth Street SE neighborhood and provided the training ground for some excellent caterers. Now the doors are closed and the telephone answering machine announces that The Broker "is closed indefinitely for remodeling." I hope that "indefinitely" does not stretch on too long.
Phyllis C. Richman's restaurant reviews appear Sundays in The Washington Post Magazine.