At the U.S. Open, Ridgewells serves in its own backyard
By Thomas Heath,
The Buzz visited the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club last week and found business activity alive and well.
Lots of local and international companies, including Baltimore-based Under Armour, worldwide shipper UPS, Texas-based computer maker Dell, MetLife, beverage distributor Reyes Holdings and Peter Angelos’s Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, had a presence at the event.
Ridgewells, the Bethesda-based caterer, was preparing 30,000 meals — breakfast, lunch and dinner — for more than 30 corporate tents (many of which are actually 900-square-foot air-conditioned pavilions) set up at the event. Ridgewells has catered 13 previous U.S. Opens, although this is the first one it has handled in Washington. (The U.S. Golf Association, which runs the Open, is Ridgewells’ largest client.)
Ridgewells hired 400 employees for the Open to help feed those hungry corporate types. How much food and drink did they buy to get ready? Forty thousand beers, 40 cases of Bloody Mary mix (a Buzz favorite), 10,500 pounds of poultry, 800 cases of bottled water and 250,000 pounds of ice.
“We started planning . . . a year ago,” said Ridgewells chief executive Susan Lacz, who has been running around the Congressional grounds for weeks.
The Buzz sampled some fruit salad. We stayed away from the heavy fare, like the breakfast dish of creme brulee French toast.
And we listened in on some of the conversations.
Chad MacDonald, founder of Dulles-based ServiceForce USA, schmoozed with Paul Brown of Hilton International; John Hillen, president of Sotera Defense Solutions, and investor Jim Speros were there last week, talking a little business and politics.
“We were discussing cyber attacks because Jim and I are investors in a cybersecurity firm that just received a patent,” MacDonald said.
Then there was the start-up called Fernandez Family Enterprises, purveyor of refreshments and formed just for the Open.
Outside the main entrance, at the intersection of Bradley Boulevard and River Road, young capitalists Sofia, Alexander and Alina Fernandez, ages 9, 5 and 3, set up a bottled water and lemonade stand for $5 a pop.
Business was brisk, and the business’s public relations person/accountant — father Raul — said they were going to up the price as the heat increased during the day.
“Great margins,” said Raul, who happens to be vice chairman and part-owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards, Capitals and Verizon Center. “We bought the water cheap. ”
Apparently, the kids were doing a little too well. A Montgomery County code enforcement officer stopped by and asked the pint-sized entrepreneurs to move further down the road, away from Congressional.
Raul said the profits were a secret, but he added the funds were going straight into the kids’ college fund.
After eyeballing the $20-per-car parking fees that neighbors were charging for use of their front lawns and driveways, Sofia suggested they consider diversifying into the parking business.
The Buzz Hears . . .
• Microsoft premieres its new digital magazine Publicyte.com at L2 Lounge in Georgetown on Tuesday.
The site is run byMicrosoft’s office of civic innovation, which is based in the District and is trying to spur technologists’ interest in work that has government and civic benefit.
“We hope that Publicyte becomes a must-read publication for innovative professionals working in the public and civic sectors,” said Mark Drapeau, the editor-in-chief of the site and director of innovative engagement for the OCI.
• The Dupont Circle Hotel and Normandy Hotel — part of the Doyle Collection — aren’t taking any chances.
Following the arrest and indictment of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of sexually assaulting a New York City hotel maid, the two local hotels are instituting new policies and equipping all maids with a panic alarm button to wear during work.
All rooms will have door stoppers to hold doors open, and rooms will be cleaned with the door propped open if hotel guests are present.