From the moment Tony Kornheiser announced in January that his high-powered group of friends would buy classic Friendship Heights restaurant Chad’s, it was clear that the name would eventually be changed. That led to suggestions for new names from his podcast listeners, and from his well-known podcast guests, and from strangers on Twitter.
Well, the suggestion box is now closed. Kornheiser announced on his podcast last week that the former Chad’s (formerly Chadwick’s) has been renamed Chatter, effective immediately. The name is both a reference to the restaurant’s new podcasting studio — which he said should be open by May 1 — and to a famous quote about newspapers. That choice also retains the “Ch” sound that has long started the joint’s name, and also features the two syllables that Kornheiser wanted from a bar name. Some of his partners — who include Maury Povich, Gary Williams and Alan Bubes — preferred Chatters, but Kornheiser prevailed upon them to use the singular.
“It’s Chatter — it’s what we do, not who we are,” Kornheiser said on his podcast. “It’s Chatter, and I like it. It’s the singular. It has history, it has nuance, and it is a ‘Ch’ for the third time, so it has continuity. That’s what it is: Chatter.”
Kornheiser described the convoluted process of getting five people with ownership shares to agree on one name. Povich, he joked, “rejected virtually every name I sent in without proposing any names of his own.” Bubes, he said, “just threw up his hands and said, ‘I don’t care.’ ” Williams, he said, was stuck on geography, “and every time we got to the subject of names, Gary would suggest something with the word ‘Friendship,’ for Friendship Heights.” Kornheiser rejected sports-themed names, “because I don’t want it to be a sports bar,” meaning names such as Bandwagon and Center Court were out.
They considered suggestions such as Business Class, and First Class, and D.C. Line. They considered name-based concepts such as Gary’s and Maury’s, although Williams and Povich both demurred. Kornheiser didn’t want it to be “Tony’s,” because he thought that sounded like an Italian restaurant. He had always preferred something with journalism undertones, so he suggested Rewrite, but Povich rejected that.
The search for a “Ch” name led them to consider Chessie’s and Chester’s, but no one was sold on either. Here’s more backstory.
“Going back to Rewrite for a second, the single most famous line in all things written about newspapers, in all newspaper movies, in all newspaper plays, in all newspaper overviews, the single most quoted and greatest line is this: ‘Cut the chatter, sweetheart, and get me rewrite,’ ” Kornheiser said on his podcast. “And everybody knows what that is who’s ever worked at a newspaper — a decreasing population as time goes on. And that’s why I thought of Rewrite. And then I thought, what about Chatter? And I said ‘Oooh, I like Chatter.’ “
And so Chatter it was. As it turns out, though, I work at a newspaper, and I had never heard of this precise line. So I Googled it to try to source the origins correctly, and I was unable to find the reference.
Then I put the beginning of that phrase — “Cut the chatter, sweetheart” — into Nexis. I found six references. All six were Washington Post columns by Tony Kornheiser.
There was a 1983 Style column about a long-forgotten sex scandal. (“Cut the chatter, sweetheart, and fill the hot tub.”)
There was a 1986 column about a Caps overtime playoff loss. (“Mike Gartner described the Capitals as ‘like in an ozone layer out there — just floating.’ Cut the chatter, sweetheart, get me Alfred Hitchcock.”)
There was a 1986 piece about a Maryland football tie. (“I thought of clever lines for Ford and Ross to use. Lines from movies (with particular reference to the press box): ‘Cut the chatter, sweetheart, and get me rewrite.’ Lines from TV: ‘Dano, patch me through to McGarrett.’ Lines from history: ‘Watson, come quick, I need you.’ ” and so on.)
There was a 1991 aside during a sports column. (“UNLV’s 10,000-page reply to the NCAA charges of basketball violations also contains no pictures of Tiegs or MacPherson — though it may have photos of Tark’s Angels frolicking in the hot tub with convicted fixer Richard ‘Cut The Chatter Sweetheart And Get Me Sports Phone’ Perry.”)
There was a 1991 column in which Kornheiser predicted the bandwagon Redskins would go undefeated, even if it pained Joe Gibbs, whom he addressed. (“You said, and I quote, ‘We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve been around, and I’m sure some of them are thinking this may be their last shot at the Super Bowl.’ Whoa! Cut the chatter, sweetheart, and get me Anna Freud.”)
And there was a 1996 column after a Redskins loss. (“Cut the chatter, sweetheart, and get me Oliver Stone. It was a conspiracy, I tell you, a conspiracy that allowed the 49ers to defeat the Redskins on Sunday.”)
There are certainly other references to “Get me rewrite,” many of them including the phrase “Sweetheart.” There’s a book called “Hello Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite.” There’s another book called “Gimme Rewrite, Sweetheart.” There’s another book called “Hello Sweetheart? Gimmie Rewrite.” The New York Times used a similar phrase in a headline. There’s a blog called “Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite.” Nora Ephron used the phrase “Hello sweetheart, get me rewrite” in a book. David Simon wrote a blog post called “Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite.” David Frum wrote a piece for The Daily Beast headlined “Get Me Rewrite, Sweetheart.” Sports Illustrated headlined a piece “Sweetheart … Get Me Rewrite!”
But the “Chatter” formulation that gave Kornheiser’s restaurant its name is most commonly associated — at least online — with the works of Tony Kornheiser. Google it in quotes, and you can’t find anything but Kornheiser columns.
Which is neither here nor there.
Anyhow, the restaurant is called Chatter, and the podcast studio is supposed to be open by May 1, and the place will be open for breakfast so you can go watch his show get recorded.