Angelina Jolie pays Old Town a visit


No, she didnt stop at Starbucks for a mocha frappuchino or to get her hair done at Circe Aveda. But Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie was in the 900 block of North Washington Street Friday, visiting the Old Town office of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. She wanted to stop by and discuss refugee issues with General Powell, said Peggy Cifrino, Powells spokeswoman. Theyve done events together in her role as U.N. representative for refugees, and she wanted to get his advice and thoughts before her meeting that day at the State Department.

A few floors below, Powells Americas Promise Alliance has been celebrating some milestones recently. On Sept. 18, the nonprofit childrens group founded by Powell and chaired by his wife, Alma, received a $250,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In August, it was selected as the sole beneficiary of an upcoming charity auction featuring a Diana Princess of Wales evening gown, worn by Diana to the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 and valued at $300,000. The gifts will be used to help improve the lives of 15 million disadvantaged children and boost high school completion rates.

Dog City has a new place for mutts. The city nationally recognized for being friendly to Fido, with its pet parks, gourmet dog bakeries and yappy happy hours, has a new luxe day care for doggies. Dogtopia, a $500,000 cageless facility in the works since 2003, opened Saturday at 3121 Colvin St. on the West End. Local canines and connoisseurs of everything dog stopped by to sniff the place out.

Jeff Lutton of McLean, the owner, quit his job in telcom sales to start the day care because he got tired of the corporate life. Lutton, the owner of a golden retriever named Josie, the day cares mascot and VP of dog resources, said, Id pick Josie up after work and shed be so happy. … I wanted a place I could hang out with her all day long.

Dogtopia features easy-on-the-joints Tuflex flooring, 1,000 square feet of outdoor play area, and a two-level spa grooming area for warm showers, blow drys and paw-dicures. There are also open playgroups and overnight boarding, alternatives to traditional kennels.

Joining forces in the venture is Old Towns Kristina Robertson, owner of Barkley Square Gourmet Dog Bakery & Boutique, which sells hard-to-find treats, gifts and furnishings for mans best friend. Jeff and I have a major thing in common: We both like to spoil dogs, she said.

For the last four decades, the Birchmere has operated one of the nations premiere venues of live music in Del Ray. Now its bringing its brand to College Park, Md. After scuttling plans this year to develop a music hall in Silver Spring, the Birchmere announced Wednesday plans to open a 500-seat, state-of-the art music venue at the University of Maryland-College Park.

The new hall is part of a major mixed-use redevelopment project of 2.6 million square feet being carried out by the university and Foulger-Pratt/Argo, developers of downtown Silver Spring. The site will include retail, residential, hotel and office space. Under the deal, the Birchmere which next month features such diverse acts as Howard Jones, America and Wayne Newton would build and operate a stage for up-and-coming singer-songwriters in the D.C. area, partnering with the universitys School of Music to develop and nurture new musical stars.

Were very excited about opening a venue in suburban Maryland and couldnt ask for better partners and a more ideal location, said Gary Oelze, the  Birchmeres founder. Richard Perlmutter of Argo Investment Co. called the Birchmeres reputation legendary.

Many careers have been launched from this internationally recognized music hall, he said.

In August, T.C. Williams graduate and B. Smith chef Rock Harper took the title on Foxs Hells Kitchen 3.

The Rock, as hes been known since his days in the culinary program at T.C., will soon open up his own restaurant in Las Vegas with the $250,000 prize.

Not to be outdone, another Alexandria chef is preparing to test his skills in front of the camera. Starting Oct. 7, Chef Morou Ouattara of Old Towns Farah Olivia will compete to be The Next Iron Chef on the new Food Network show. Over five weeks, the show will take Morou and his seven opponents from the Culinary Institute of America to Europe. Last year, Morou appeared on Iron Chef America, where despite a strong showing in the kitchen, he lost to New York celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

Gov. Tim Kaine (D) made some more appointments of Alexandrians to boards and commissions this week. Dr. Oliver Flint Jr. of Alexandria, curator emeritus for the Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of Natural History, was reappointed by the governor to the Virginia Museum of Natural History Board of Trustees, and Kelly Hobbs of Alexandria, director of governmental affairs for Wal-Mart, was appointed to the governors Secure Commonwealth Panel.

Friends and family of longtime resident Jennifer Dunn, a former congresswoman from Washington State, are mourning her loss. Rep. Dunn, who kept a home here since 1993, died Sept. 12 at her Alexandria home of a blood clot in her lung. She was 66.