Courtesy Baked by Yael
Courtesy Baked by Yael

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Was Ollie the bobcat’s escape fake news? Since the 25-pound “unapproachable” feline was found on zoo premises, maybe she never escaped after all? Maybe the National Zoo was looking for a boost in winter traffic? After all, when Rusty the red panda was brought back to his enclosure, he was instantly the most popular man in town.

OK that’s too cynical, even for City Paper, but area eateries near the zoo are expecting to see a welcome bump in business during one of the slowest months of the year.

“Everyone’s so happy she’s back, people will want to pay her a visit,” says Yael Krigman, who owns Baked by Yael directly across from the zoo’s Connecticut Avenue entrance. The shop serves cake pops, bagels, sandwiches, and other treats. “We love when there’s any action at the zoo.”

Of course, she says, a baby animal is preferable to a lost animal, but she’ll take the business. She even made Ollie cake pops for the occasion.

Daniel Kramer, who owns Duke’s Counter, a London-inspired sandwich shop on the same strip, is new to the game having opened in July, but he’s hopeful.

“We are always excited for the comings and goings at the National Zoo,” Kramer says. “I’m just happy that they found her.” He says they haven’t been around for a lot of panda babies or new animal excitement, but he understands they can make a huge impact. “I haven’t experienced it yet, but we’re looking forward to learning and serving.

Baked by Yael, 3000 Connecticut Ave. NW; (202) 234-9235;

Duke’s Counter, 3000 Connecticut Ave. NW, (202) 733-4808;