When Joe Englert goes to work, he doesn’t drive to some sterile office building in Arlington. After a game of tennis with friend Matt Weiss, Englert is chauffeured to work in Weiss’ black Lexus. His office? It’s a converted garage on Capitol Hill, where Englert’s modest desk takes up a tiny fraction of the space. The rest is filled with pinball machines, Pittsburgh memorabilia (Englert’s hometown), a TV lounge, a diner booth, a collection of random signs and souvenirs, a Ping-Pong table, and a bubble hockey game.
Englert does seem to perform work while in the office. He reviews extremely detailed variance reports from his various properties, trying to figure out if there’s some suspiciously missing liquor. He also signs a few documents handed to him by his long-suffering assistant, Cheryl Webb, who plays the disapproving mother role to Englert’s perpetual adolescent. Webb even hands Englert the latest paperwork from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which has approved licenses for three new ventures: Joe’s Coal & Ice House (a barbecue joint on H Street NE), Vendetta (an Italian restaurant on H Street NE), and an unnamed po’ boy shop on Capitol Hill.
I press Englert about the po’ boy joint, since I haven’t heard about it before. He won’t say much other than to note that it will include the services of Dr. Granville Moore’s chef Teddy Folkman and a well-known local chef. I try to guess the chef. I guess right, but he won’t let me print the name.
Did I mention that Englert likes to play games? He swears he’s a very good table-tennis player and that, given the right opponent, he can even turn it into a work-out. But while I’m there, he challenges me to a game of bubble hockey. It takes me awhile to master the handles and knobs, which allows Englert to jump to a quick 3-1 lead. But I score again, and Englert taunts me that I need to make another soon to force overtime. I’m resigned to losing—-until I flip my wrist and, much to my surprise, I score again to tie the score at 3.
Just seconds into overtime, however, Englert smacks one by my goalie. He whoops as if he just won the Stanley Cup.