CAPTAIN CRUNCH: Restaurateur Andy Shallal turns 50 next year, and says he's determined to celebrate the occasion with "a six-pack, and I'm not talking beer!" To that worthy end, he recently bought a membership at Gold's Gym, where his exercise routine has given him new energy -- and where Shallal began to think about a few other people in his life who could stand to shed a few pounds. "My managers were getting fatter and fatter," he describes the team of 10 people who watch over Luna Grill and Mimi's American Bistro, his Washington restaurants. So, he struck a deal with his employees: free membership to his gym, as long as they use the perk at least twice a week. Any less, and his managers will have to pay the $25-a-month fee per person. Everyone signed on to participate. "It's a win-win situation," says Shallal, who already spends $250 on health insurance -- per person, every month -- for all his full-time employees.
LOCK, STOCKS AND BARRELS: Known for their menus that promote ingredients grown, raised or bottled in the state of Maryland, chefs David Jones and Keith Sleppy are moving their creative American restaurant, Zest (11791 Fingerboard Road, Monrovia, Md.; 301-865-0868), from a shopping center to a former rescue mission in nearby Frederick, Md., possibly as early as September. The business partners plan to retain their Made in Maryland stamp as they make the transition, a mere 10 minutes away, to their new digs at 200 South Market St., in a revitalized area of Frederick. Alas, the new dining room will have space for only half as many guests (60 to 70) as the three-year-old original. On the bright side: Unlike the first, the second Zest will be open seven days a week, serve Sunday brunch and pour classic cocktails from a small bar. And to keep regulars interested, the chefs plan to offer frequently changing tasting menus.