- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

When former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown hung up his cleats, he probably didn’t think he’d be trading them in for a spatula.

Mr. Brown plans to open 10 Fatburger hamburger stores in the D.C. area over the next six years, with the first planned for Route 1 in College Park, late this summer.

Fatburger, a chain from Santa Monica, Calif., specializes in “fat,” one-third-pound, never-frozen hamburgers, as well as fries, onion rings and real ice-cream shakes. It sounds similar to the locally grown Five Guys chain, but Mr. Brown, a D.C. native and current resident of Baltimore, said there is a difference.

“You walk into Fatburger, and there’s music playing and people yelling out, ‘Fatburger’ and ‘Baby Fatburger,’ ” he said. “It’s going to wake you up like coffee in the morning.”

The chain has many locations along the West Coast, and only a few in the Midwest and South and on the East Coast. The closest existing Fatburger is in Chesapeake, Va.

Fatburger has been trying to bring its hamburgers to the D.C. area since at least 2002. When former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. held a majority stake in Fatburger, his investment company told The Washington Times that it planned to quickly open 40 to 60 restaurants in the D.C. area.

Mr. Johnson was bought out of the company in late 2003 by Keith Warlick, president and chief executive officer. The parties couldn’t agree on how to run Fatburger.

With those problems in the past, Mr. Brown says, Fatburger will work in Washington. He said he will apply the same perseverance that got him into the National Football League — he was not drafted, but signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in 1999 — to make the Fatburger stores successful.

“I worked my tail off to get where I did in football. And I’m going to work my tail off at Fatburger,” he said, adding that if he has to, he will flip burgers, too.

Mr. Brown said he even might send his three children behind the counter. He hopes to instill a work ethic he learned from his parents that got him through a 1999 eye injury to return to the NFL three years later.

“If I can make it in the NFL, I can make these [restaurants] work.”

In other news …

Country Inn & Suites opened its third hotel in the area last week. The 95-room hotel, at 4950 Mercedes Blvd. in Camp Springs, is the chain’s closest location to the District. Country Inn also has hotels in Waldorf, Md., and Sterling, Va.

Brasserie Beck, the second restaurant from chef Robert Wiedmaier, is scheduled to open this week at 1101 K St. NW. The restaurant, named after Mr. Wiedmaier’s second son, will serve more casual French-Belgian cuisine than the chef’s first restaurant, Marcel’s, named for his first son.

Local Mexican food chain California Tortilla opened its newest restaurant Friday, this one in the Ashburn Village Shopping Center in Virginia. The restaurant is the Rockville chain’s 26th location.

Another local restaurant chain, Buffalo Wings & Beer, has expanded. The Gaithersburg chain opened its 11th Maryland location, this one in Loehmann’s Plaza on Randolph Road in Rockville.

Retail & Hospitality appears Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at [email protected] or 202/636-4836.

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