There is a reason more convincing than an absolute delight to get a dry aged Roseda Black Angus Farm Beef Grilled Cast Iron Hot Dog from the Catalyst Hot Dogs Mobile Stand and that is to hear its owner, Silver resident Chris Van Jura Spring, pronounced “hot dawwwg” in his native New Jersey accent.
Van Jura, 39, considers selling Jersey dogs to be his true calling. He received a BFA in Theater from Western Connecticut State University in 2005. After college, he worked at a delicatessen in Lodi, New Jersey, for four years to support himself between auditions and actor concerts. “What I was doing there is what I do now: over-the-counter jokes,” he laughs. He then worked for various restaurants, working his way up the ranks to senior management. A job as general manager of Fiola Mare in DC brought him to the region in 2017. When COVID hit, he had just started a new job at Via Sophia in DC. He has been put on leave twice.
“Like millions of hospitality professionals, I spent 10 months in 2020 without knowing what was going to happen. Without it, however, I wouldn’t have decided to do what I always wanted to do: open a hot dog truck, ”says Van Jura.
In May 2020, Van Jura drove past a parking lot in Silver Spring where a hot dog trailer was for sale. He started a GoFundMe and raised $ 25,000 in seven weeks, opening Catalyst Hot Dogs in December. Depictions of floors, handrails and a curtain are painted on the side of the trailer, and the window is the stage for Van Jura, where he engages patrons with lively repartee, showmanship, and charm while ‘he prepares their orders. The name Catalyst is a tribute to Van Jura’s older brother, Michael, who died in 2012. “During the visit, a friend of [Michael’s] told me that [Michael] was going to open his own bagel store called The Catalyst, so I knew that had to be the name of my stand, ”says Van Jura.
The menu is simple: grilled all-beef or vegan dogs on Martin’s potato rolls, Herr’s crisps and cold drinks. It is the high quality of Van Jura’s ingredients and its sociable character that distinguish this stand. Even a regular $ 3 dog with mustard or ketchup is a labor of love for him. Specialty dogs ($ 6) include All the Way (chili, mustard, onions), Classic (chili and cheese), Lincoln Logs (butterfly hot dog with a smear of cream cheese), and The Capital Dog (onions and Capital City mambo sauce). Van Jura makes his own Texan-style chili (also with beef Roseda) and a bright yellow cabbage relish at a commissary kitchen in Gaithersburg.
Recent areas where the Catalyst stand has popped up include the King Farm neighborhood of Rockville, the Indian Spring neighborhood of Silver Spring, and the Home Depot in Silver Spring.
Catalyst Hot Dogs, 202-567-1838, catalysthotdogs.com, on Instagram @catalyst_hotdogs
The cool vibe of Colada Shop, a quick and casual DC-based Cuban-style cafe that opened in the village of Potomac’s Cabin John in April, is obvious before you even walk in the door. Against the sky-blue brick background of the cafe’s facade, the boldly colored mural by Dominican artist Kilia Llano of a smiling woman with plantains on her head catches the eye. Salsa music creates a festive mood as you walk in, and gracious employees stand ready to take orders for offerings like pastelitos (flaky pastries with a sweet and savory filling, like guava or ground beef), empanadas, tostones ( mashed fried plantain) or lime pie layered in a screw-top jar so you can save some for a treat at home later.
The user-friendliness of Colada Shop is inherent in its name: a colada is a four-serving portion of espresso topped with espumita (sugar foam) that comes with four small cups so that it can be divided and shared. Colada Shop CEO and founder Daniella Senior, 32, said the cafe was meant to be a different social gathering space than “the sea of cafes serving the same scone or muffin” she saw at the party. her travels in the United States “I wanted a place that represents Latin culture in a positive light,” she says. “Coffee culture has evolved into really big cafes with your name on them that you grab and go – the opposite what i grew up with [in the Dominican Republic]. We wanted an environment that makes you slow down and forget about your hectic life for a minute. Senior envisioned a place to meet people’s needs all day long, whether it be for morning coffee, a meeting, work, enjoy a Cuban sandwich or bowl of rice for lunch, or sip cocktails in the evening.
This is Colada Shop’s fourth location and the first in Montgomery County. “We were getting a lot of opening requests in Potomac, so I started paying attention,” says Senior. “The owner contacted the former Le Pain Quotidien space and I saw the environment in the square – the openness, the possibility of having lots of outdoor seating.”
The 2,600 square foot café, which seats 100 indoors and 65 outdoors, is airy and attractive. Plants hang from the ceiling and small succulents adorn each table. Another colorful fresco by Llano adorns a back wall. The menu offers breakfast options, salads, sandwiches, pastries, snacks, desserts, coffee drinks and cocktails. Dishes served exclusively at the Potomac location include plantain latkes with house salted salmon and cilantro-dill cream; plantain nachos; and tostones stuffed with ropa vieja (braised beef).
Senior says the store will host occasional events with live music, including a Pina Colada festival July 8-18.
Colada Shop, 7993 Tuckerman Lane (John Village Cabin), Potomac, 240-332-8870, coladashop.com
Comings and goings
Chef Mike Friedman, who lives in Olney and owns famous DC restaurants The Red Hen and All-Purpose Pizza, will open two restaurants at 4747 Bethesda Ave. in 2022: Aventino, a full-service 120-seat restaurant serving Roman-style dishes, and a 20-seat All-Purpose Pizza outpost.
A Scandinavian-influenced restaurant called Café Sophie will open in the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg this summer. Thai Chef Street Food, a Washington-based restaurant, plans to open in downtown Rockville in late summer. Another DC-based concept, Shouk – a casual, kosher, vegan, and Middle Eastern restaurant – is opening two locations in Montgomery County this fall, one in Rockville and one in Bethesda. Bethesda Bagels will open at Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville in the fall. It will be the local chain’s third Montgomery County outpost.
French pastry shop Patisserie Manuel at Westfield Montgomery Shopping Center in Bethesda closed in March.
The Grilled Oyster Co. closed at Cabin John Village in Potomac in April, with plans to move to the Kentlands in Gaithersburg at the end of the year.
Bethesda Pizzeria and VÜK Pinball Room closed in May. The same goes for the Silver Spring location of the Olazzo restaurant after a 15-year run. The original Olazzo, in Bethesda, remains open. At the end of May, Bump ‘n Grind café and record store closed its East West Highway store in Silver Spring. Nando’s Peri-Peri, a South African fast food chain specializing in roast chicken, will move its Bethesda Row outpost to an undisclosed Bethesda location in January 2022.