News & Politics

A New DC Bakery Will Also Serve As a Training Ground for Disabled Vets and Their Spouses

Dog Tag Bakery will open in a building with a culinary history.

Father Rick Curry with COO Meghan Ogilvie and development director Adam Mortillaro outside the new Dog Tag Bakery on Grace Street in Georgetown. Photograph courtesy of Dog Tag Bakery.

A quaint building on a side street in Georgetown with an interesting culinary history
is about to be remade as a food venue very much of our time. Dog Tag Bakery, when
it opens next year, will serve as a training ground for disabled veterans and their
spouses. According to the founder, Father
Rick Curry of Georgetown University, during the day the student bakers will work at the shop
at 3206 Grace Street, and at night they’ll be on campus, taking a course in entrepreneurship
in the School of Continuing Studies.

“We want to give the disabled vets and their spouses the full experience of running
a business,” says Father Curry, himself a baker for 51 years and the author of
The Secret of Jesuit Breadmaking. He did not give away any of his secrets,
but he did say his favorite item to bake is “simple peasant bread. It’s the easiest
thing to learn how to bake, and also one of the tastiest.”

The program will train 12 veterans and their spouses each year. “We’re recruiting
from Walter Reed Medical Center and from the [Veterans Affairs Medical Center],” says
Father Curry, adding that anyone who is interested in joining the program should contact
him through the Dog Tag Bakery website.

The small, flat-roofed building has been on the market for quite some time. Its last
tenant was Grace & Bamboo restaurant. Before that it was a French restaurant and before
that a notable bakery, Pâtisserie-Cafe Didier, owned by
Dieter G. Schorner, who teaches at the Culinary Institute of America. During his extensive career, Schorner
served as pastry chef at some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants and is credited
with the revival of crème brûlée during his time at Le Cirque in New York. Before
Didier, around the mid-1970s, the building was home to Hudson Brothers, an ahead-of-its-time
market that was a boutique version of the big markets we take for granted today, with
separate sections for a fromagerie, charcuterie, a butcher, and fresh produce.

Learning of the building’s history, Curry says he felt “good spirits.”

Dog Tag bought the building for $2.7 million; the sale closed last week. Demolition
starts next week on a renovation that Curry expects will run another $1 million. His
partner in the project is another successful entrepreneur, philanthropist
Connie Milstein, who owns the Jefferson Hotel. She also has a history with a brand of cookies—Connie’s
Cookies—which will be for sale in the new bakery and through mail order. The cookies
will be part of the store and mail-order menu that will include croissants, pastries,
and breads, as well as dog biscuits. The business will be open seven days a week from
early morning into the evening. The building comes with a liquor license, but Curry
says, “We don’t quite know how we’re going to manage that.” He assures they do plan
to put it use.

Curry is optimistic for the future. “I think we’re going to do very well and we’re
going to help a lot of disabled veterans.”