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Arlington-connected restaurant owners capture RAMMY Awards

No Arlington-specific restaurant walked away from Sunday’s RAMMY Awards with new hardware for the display case, but it was not a total shutout for the county’s food scene.

As in years past, the big winners were mostly D.C. restaurants. But unlike last year, when Ruthie’s All-Day was honored as Casual Restaurant of the Year, no Arlington-only eatery was singled out.

This was the 41st annual edition of the regional awards program, organized by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and held at the Washington Convention Center.

There were three winners with Arlington connections.

RASA — a growing, local fast casual Indian restaurant chain with a location in Crystal City — won for Favorite Fast Bites. Co-founders Sahil Rahman and Rahul Vinod took the stage before a large crowd of local restaurant industry figures to accept the award, thanking their team and their fathers, who are also restaurant owners.

Kevin Tien, who won for Chef of the Year for his now-closed D.C. restaurant Moon Rabbit, operates hot chicken eatery Hot Lola’s, with locations in Ballston and Rosslyn.

Rose Previte, who won for Restaurateur of the Year, will soon have an Arlington restaurant. Best known for Compass Rose and Maydan in D.C., Previte’s company No White Plates is building out Kirby Club, which has an existing location in the Mosaic District, in the former Iota Club space in Clarendon. The Middle Eastern concept, which in Clarendon was formerly to be called Tawle, is expected to open in the coming months.

Among those receiving RAMMY nominations this year but not making it to the podium were Snjezana Jaksic of Ambar Clarendon (Manager of the Year); Bridie McCulla of Liberty Restaurant Group (Pastry Chef of the Year); Bar Ivy in Clarendon (New Restaurant of the Year); and Ruthie’s All Day (Favorite Gathering Place).

Favorite Gathering Place and Favorite Fast Bites, which RASA won, were among the five categories for which members of the dining public — rather than a select panel — voted both the nominees and the winners this year, for the first time.

One notable backdrop for this year’s award ceremony is the July 1 implementation of D.C.’s new tipped-minimum wage law, which will raise the base pay of tipped restaurant staff significantly over the next few years. That has prompted some District restaurants to impose surcharges on customers and has also led to some speculation that Arlington could see an influx of new restaurants that would have otherwise opened across the river.

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