Kathy Hollinger took the helm of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in mid-December.
You've had a varied career: D.C. Council staffer, film commissioner, Comcast executive, PR guru. Why move to the restaurant industry?
Well, if you can represent a cable company in this market, restaurants are nothing but a pleasure. I started out on the Hill and learned a lot, but I wasn't as interested in federal matters as I was local. I view myself as a true advocate, and I love the region, so the combination of an industry I'm passionate about and a city I adore was an opportunity I couldn't ignore.
What are your priorities?
We want to help restaurants save money and we want them to succeed. Alcohol reform was a big thing and a big success for the industry, but I'm also thinking about any kind of regulatory reform that may not appear to have an impact on the restaurant industry. I want to make sure elected officials know when proposals affect restaurants' bottom lines.
D.C. has never been known as a dining haven. Are we becoming one?
Yes. The growth has been tremendous, and the pace at which restaurants are opening is wonderful. We want to see it everywhere.
Besides dining out, what's your quintessential D.C. experience?
I love walking around the city, and now we can walk around so much more. I should probably be walking more, eating less and viewing fewer movies, but this has become a great entertainment town.
I won't make you pick a favorite restaurant, but will you at least pick your preferred cuisine?
It's very tough. We have it all here. My choices and preferences are varied, but I've got to tell you I don't have a preferred cuisine. I love red meat, but the style and cuisine are very hard for me to pinpoint. Maybe ask me in six months.
- Alan Blinder