Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

May 4, 2013 8:54 AM

Restaurant: Range


5335 Wisconsin Avenue NW
2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20015
Range is another new D.C. restaurant which opened just over four months ago. I went to Range with Debbie, Gail and Rob.

It is a massive (seats 300) modern restaurant that wraps around a large part of the atrium of the office building in which it is located. (Originally a series of separate retail stores were located around the atrium.) The restaurant is open to the atrium through floor to ceiling windows. Periodically during dinner, one is entertained by a series of light designs emanating from the atrium.

As you enter the restaurant, off to the right is a glass-walled area in which a variety of cooking utensils and devices are offered for sale. To the left is the first of a variety of food stations; this one is set up to prepare candies and desserts. Wrapped around a goodly portion of the restaurant’s outer wall are a series of other stations, including cheeses, baked goods, a raw bar, rotisseries, a wood-fired hearth, and a coffee bar. There is also a counter than runs past each of the stations which seats over 50 people.

A separate bar area has high stools and a glass-walled private room that appears to seat up to twenty people.

There are a variety of tables and booths seating two or four people. There are also rounds that seem to seat up to six. One of the interesting features is that the 4 person booths are open on both sides. The tables can easily be shifted to the left or right, until everyone is seated comfortably, and then pulled back to a center position between all four diners.

The main outside entrance to Range is on Military Road. If you find the stairs leading up to the main entrance daunting, walk to your right, enter the Embassy Suites Hotel, and take the elevator on the left to the second floor.

When reviews of restaurants are written they are almost always about the chefs. The chefs create the food and that is what restaurants are all about. However, there is more to running a restaurant than cooking and presenting the food. If a chef is involved in more than one restaurant, all of them are treated as his or hers.

There are times when the ideas for a restaurant come from a non-chef. As it turns out, the original driving force behind Fredricks Volt, Lunchbox and Family Meal, Graffiato, and Range in D.C. is a non-chef, Hilda Staples. Staples was previously involved in public relations and is a mother of 7 year-old twins. Of course, once she decided to venture into the restaurant world, she teamed up with high quality, experienced chefs.

An article in the Local Living Section of the Washington Post on April 18th tells the story of Staples and the restaurants are described at length. The author of the article, Mari-Jane Williams, writes, “Staples does the behind the scenes work of running the businesses.” It is worth going online to read the whole story.

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