Update: Bistro Lafayette Shares Thanksgiving Menu


More DC Taxes on Restaurants

So what new DC tax allows the government to scrape a little more success off the top of the restaurant industry? A valet parking permit.

The cost is $50 to file for the permit ($50 annual renewal) and then the city charges restaurants .50 cents per 20 feet curbside per hour the restaurant uses for valet parking. Doesn't sound like much, right?

But there may be additional fees associated with the permit based on the restaurants location - say - a restaurant has parking meters along the area where the valet is and therefore the restaurant will have to pay for the loss of parking meter income the city could have received along the valet permit area. This is weird, because many restaurants have public parking in front of their location and you just pull up, double-park and they come and take the car away right? No more. I assume this means that the city will actually take away those parking spots in the front of the restaurant and put up signs saying 'valet parking permit area only'. Oh, and the restaurant will have to pay for the cost, installation and upkeep of those signs in front of their restaurant.

Or lets say there is a bus stop in front of the restaurant, where the valet permit is issued and buses may be re-directed to another stop during the permitted valet hours. I am not in favor of more government fees, but if you have ever tried to valet at Zengo, during the dinner rush, where there is a bus stop and no curb access, you know my pain.

But are all valet locations really that valuable to the DC government? I mean, how much could the government make at a valet style restaurant?

Case in point.....I received an email from PS7 stating that because of this law, they would no longer offer valet service. This email is what got me interested in this new DC government permit and sought me to investigate and run the numbers. So here they are, generally thinking (because I am just guessing the numbers from experience, I have no idea who or how PS7 does its books) about what would effect PS7 over the course of 1 year:
  • $50: valet parking application fee (must be annually renewed)
  • $0: additional bus re-routing during valet permit hours (there is no bus stop in front of the restaurant so this doesn't apply);
  • $500: cost of new signage at valet location (I really have no idea how much this costs, but we are talking about DC city government, so whatever number you are thinking would be reasonable, times that by 10)
  • $5616: parking meter loss of income to the DC government: $18 (based on 2 parking meters in front of the restaurant, charging $2/hour for the 4.5 hours the city loses on the 2 meters)/6 days a week (the city doesn't charge on Sundays)/52 weeks a year (if the restaurant was open all year long)
  • $1274: the city charges .50 cents per 20 feet per hour of valet usage so thats ($3.50/7 hours (if PS7 offered valet from 5pm to 11pm)/7 days a week (if they where open 7 days a week)$24.50/52 weeks a year
  • Therefore the total cost to be in regulation is: $7440
So technically, the costs associated in providing valet service at PS7 would be an additional $20 per day (in the first year alone).

But how does this compare to what they are already spending on valet parking?
  • cost: $100,000/year - if they hired the nicest valet service in DC
  • cost: $16,400/year - if they only had 20 diners per day (this is a low estimate), 7 days a week, utilize their valet service. They may charge you $8 to park your car, but it only costs them $5 to park it in the garage (this is a high estimate, because restaurants usually get quite a deal on contract parking in garages)
So this is about an increase of 6.4% in costs associated in providing valet service at PS7. Now that is quite a tax hike!

And if the restaurant is only making $12/diner (based on the cost of 30/30/30 - 3 course menu - where the menu price is broken into thirds, where 1/3 goes to paying for the food, 1/3 goes toward paying for the staff, electricity, etc. and 1/3 is profit) that means that the restaurant now 'forks' over the profit from 1.5 diners a day to the DC government - just for offering valet parking between 5pm and 11pm 6 nights a week.

So by not offering valet service or even discounted garage parking, the restaurant has taken the costs associated with valet parking ($318/day) off their books completely.

Although I adore valet parking, but I praise the restaurant for watching their bottom line and not giving the DC government another outlet to overcharge the restaurant industry. I just hope that this new taxing idea doesn't spread to VA or MD. And I hope that restaurant patrons won't mind circling PS7 block for parking.

If you are interested in reading the regulation go here


Events: Thanksgiving at Bistrot Lafayette

Don't feel like cooking on Thanksgiving? Want to go out? Its often hard to find a nice thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant that isn't a very pricing buffet spread.

No worries though, Bistrot Lafayette has you covered - they are offering a Thanksgiving 3-course menu (including turkey) for just $32/person from 12pm to 8pm on Thanksgiving day.

You might want to make reservations, as I didn't see this special occasion listed on the website.


Events: Hooked on Mad Men

Hook Restaurant in georgetown is looking to bring you in to their restaurant - even if it means you don't eat the food, just drink and watch tv.

Event: Watch the season finale of Mad Men
Date: Tonite
Time: 8pm to closing (tvs in the bar will be turned to watch Mad Men at 10pm)
Showcasing: Serving appetizers and showcasing the drinks on the show (side cars, manhattans, etc.)

I enjoy Mad Men, but I am just into season 1 on netflicks, so I don't want to spoil it.

This event does seems slightly ironic in that a restaurant so clearly coming from a sustainable 'point of view' showcases a television show where an important basis of character development comes from red meat and smoking.


Products: Sausage

Just so you know, the previous posts pictures were from King Ludwigs, one of the many restaurants serving German dishes in Leavenworth, WA.

Each restaurant in Leavenworth serves the same fare, but each restaurant has its own special sausage (Ludwigs is a spicy sausage), so you can go from restaurant to restaurant trying the different kinds (and eating at all the restaurants!)

Although the story around town is...that each restaurant in Leavenworth gets their 'house' sausage 'out of house' - shipped directly from a small, family-owned deli in Selah, WA (my hometown) at Jahrs European Sausage (sorry, no website, it is Selah you know) where is it made to order for the restaurant and then shipped back to them in Leavenworth.


Travel: Leavenworth Octoberfest

Leavenworth is a little town near the Wenatchee National Forest in Washington state that celebrates its German hertiage. Last weekend I participated in their annual Octoberfest race, running in the Leavenworth Half Marathon.

So what does one do in a German inspired town during the month of October with 800 calories to make-up?

Well....by eating way too much goulash, sausage, cabbage, veal, spatzle and roast pork with family of course!


Events: Farm to Table Month in Arlington

From September 15th-October 14th several restaurants in the Arlington area will be featuring a special one-night-only all local menu featuring local farmers for a special price. This is in celebration of Farm to Table Month in Arlington to celebrate local farms and local chefs.

The VA Cooperative Extension (the outfit running it) is also showing some movies about the farming and food industry. The True Cost of Food; The Garden; FRESH

Restaurant participating that you might want to take advantage of: Liberty Tavern and Williow.

Visit Virginia Cooperative Extension for a list of event times: Farm to Table Month in Arlington


Williams-Sonoma Culinary Demos

During these slow economy times, we look for ways to save money - especially when it comes to entertainment.

Williams-Sonoma has released its September schedule for cooking demos. They used to make you rsvp, but now they are now FREE and open to public.

You can call your local store to find out the times or stop by to see the staff in action - you just might learn a new culinary trick - and get to taste its treat!

Click here to see the schedule.


Travel: Chiang Rai Tea Room Treats

While in Chiang Rai we visited a tea house where we tasted about dozen local teas, brewed in the Chinese tradition. They served us several treats to enjoy while tasting - some dried, vinegar infused or candied fruits and nuts...and then there were some deep fried caterpillers sauteed in clarified butter right in front of us.

I am (most always) willing to try new things, which is quite unusual for a traveling through american (according to the locals). These are a delicacy and were quite good. I even thought of bringing some home to my brother (he has received chocolate covered grasshoppers before) until they told me the price.


On a Pho (not faux) Mission

I totally admit that I have never liked pho. With most peoples food preferences, it stems back to my first experience that wasn't positive. It was in a dirty place in reston, eating flavorless soup, being young in my food eating experience I was confused over the process and if to use chopsticks or the spoon. Add to that the bad company I had the soup with and it is no surprise, years later, I wince when my husband asks me to lunch and suggests pho.

A few months ago, in my Asia travels, I spent some time in Vietnam. I learned that what I had years ago was more like faux then pho. I ate pho for every meal and enjoyed all the different add-ons you could enjoy at your table.

Now I am back in VA, when my husband suggests pho, I smile...but make him try a new pho place everytime in search of the elusive flavor and interesting add-ons I had in Vietnam. When I find a place, I'll post and let you know.

Here is a video showing one meal my husband and I had in a restaurant in the Saigon neighborhood of Ho Chi Minh City.

Pho Video