Walking into the Pete’s Apizza location in Tenleytown, I approached the counter and asked for Chef Thomas Marr. “Chef who?” said the cashier. Suddenly I was afraid that I had gotten the location wrong. Was I supposed to go to the one in Columbia Heights? Did I get the time wrong? “Uhh, let me go check for you,” he said. No sooner did the jovial chef come out to greet me, the cashier laughed, “Sorry, when you said ‘chef’ I got confused. He’s known as one of the owners around here.”
Wearing multiple hats is exactly what Marr does–he’s a chef, but he’s also one of the co-founders of Pete’s Apizza and is often busy managing the restaurant and talking with familiar customers. “Restaurant people are restaurant people,” he says, adding that once they start working in the restaurant business, they stay. For Marr, he always enjoyed the hospitality aspect and getting satisfaction out of making customers happy. Now, he’s got a restaurant of his own, and even invested in a POS system, e.g., Revel Systems, so he can have better customer transactions. Marr entered the restaurant world as a dishwasher, graduated to doing prep work and eventually trained at the Culinary Institute of America. He’s worked in restaurants across the world, including DC’s own National Gallery of Art.
‘Outdoor Ping Pong’
courtesy of ‘M.V. Jantzen’
Over the last couple of years, I’ve eaten in a lot of nice restaurants. And after the foie gras, the caviar, the course-upon-course of decadent food, what have I learned? I’ve learned I love pizza. I reallylove pizza. I love it in all its forms – artisan Neopolitan right down to the new crust at Dominos. But if I have to pick one incarnation, it’s always going to be the personal pizza with the funky toppings. That leaves me with 2 Amys, 7th Hill, and my personal favorite, Comet Ping Pong.
The first time I tried Comet, I had high hopes for the pizza. The food didn’t disappoint, but I was most impressed with the feeling of the place. It left me a little bummed that I wasn’t, ahem…a few years younger and that I couldn’t turn this restaurant into my high school hang out. My Peach Pit, if you will.
Welcome to another edition of Where We Live! This week we’ll be taking a closer look at Tenleytown/AU Park. Even though this neighborhood surrounds American University, it’s not just college students who live there– the beautiful tree-lined streets and great transit access attract people from all walks of life.
History: This part of town has a pretty cool history. Tenleytown originally got its name back in 1790, when residents took to calling the neighborhood “Tenally’s Town” after tavern owner John Tenally. Fort Reno, as the highest natural point in the District, was part of the Civil War Defenses of Washington. After the Civil War, Fort Reno was a free black community, but you wouldn’t know it today– the remnants of this neighborhood were wiped out when several schools were built in the name of urban renewal. The area became a commercial center in 1941, when Sears opened a huge store there (the site of the Sears was redevelopment and now houses the Best Buy and Container Store). The area developed throughout the twentieth century with the help of the streetcar and its proximity to American University (which admitted its first class in 1914).