The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The team behind the late Willow in Arlington is now at Campono in the Watergate

Campono, seen here after it was opened by Bob Kinkead in 2014, is now in the hands of former Willow chef Tracy O'Grady. <br/> (Juana Arias for The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

Those still mourning the loss of Willow in Arlington's Ballston neighborhood need only hop across the river to find some familiar fare -- and faces.

Former Willow chef and co-owner Tracy O'Grady and her husband, Brian Wolken, Willow's former operations director, are now in charge of Campono in the Watergate complex. They recently took over management of the casual Italian eatery from chef Bob Kinkead, who first opened the spot in March 2014, right around when his more formal adjacent restaurant, Ancora, closed for renovations.

Wolken said Kinkead approached O'Grady, his former sous chef at the late Kinkead's, about coming on board as the Campono chef after Willow closed in the fall. She joined the team in December, and she and Wolken officially took over as the operators in March. Kinkead could not be reached for comment.

O'Grady and Wolken plan to maintain the overall concept of Campono as a cafe that serves salads, sandwiches and pizzas, in addition to breakfast. But the chef is starting to revamp the offerings with her own creations and recipes, starting with the pastry program and breakfast.

"It was typically our slowest period of the day," which made it ideal for tackling first, Wolken said. "We've just put a little more depth to it, a little more finesse," including house-made puff pastry. Plus, the initial changes are "a great opportunity to show people what our style is," he said.

O'Grady has been featuring a few dishes from her Willow repertoire, including biscuits, some flatbreads, a Vietnamese tofu banh mi and a quinoa cake salad.

The space that was previously Ancora remains closed. The owners of the Watergate 600 building said expanding Campono is an option they're discussing with O'Grady, and they "will also consider the exciting new offerings at the Watergate Hotel before making a decision on the future of the Ancora space."

Check out some of O'Grady's dishes here:

Campono, 600 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-505-4000. camponodc.com.

Related items:

As Ancora prepares to close, Campono gets ready to open

Campono, informal and open for 3 meals a day

Loading...