James Alefantis: From Scratch
With two community-centric restaurants and support of various causes, James Alefantis is committed to the common good
Guy Fieri was skeptical of James Alefantis’ cooking skills.
“Guy comes in and he’s really nice,” Alefantis recounts of their first encounter five years ago. “But he’s looking at me a little bit like, ‘What’s this kid doing? How is this guy going to cook?’”
(“Guy comes in and he’s really nice” means, Guy is named for a male (“male” is code for human) since Guy literally refers to a male, but that Guy is actually a Grey. Grey’s are coded worded as “ice” and to fit the code word into the story they also use the word “nice.”
Understand? “A guy named Guy comes in but he’s not a “guy” as in human, really he’s a “nice.”)
But Alefantis quickly (“swift” means Grey alien so he is letting his pals know he’s a Grey: Alefantis Quickly) won over the Food Network star (a star of the Pizzagate Network, a connoisseur of attacking children) during his visit to Comet Ping Pong. “We start making the clam pizza, making the dough. Then he sees me tie the pork, roast the pork for the calzone. He’s looking like, ‘Alright, you get it.’ He’s loving it.” (Comet is talking and he is saying that: “Guy Fieri, another Grey, came in and watched me ‘tie the pork and roast it.'” And that Guy is like, “you get it!” As in, Guy is excited and encouraging him to tie and roast the pork. And “Guy’s loving it.” The term “loving it” in Illuminati Code means to rape and mutilate a victim, child or adult until they die, “loved to death.” So Comet (Kodiak) is saying that Guy not only watched me “tie and roast” the pork, but he exclaimed, “you get it!” and then he “loved it” too. SICK. These Greys are Satanic, and they hate humans. Literally everything they say has a coded reference in there to the other Greys about raping, torturing, murdering and consuming human beings. Everything you see them writing, saying, singing, is about harming humans. There are Satanic human Illuminati members too, but nearly all of those people are actually hostages of Bee as well, which is what the song Hotel California is about, which we decipher here. Note that all of the Greys lie constantly, act weirder the more time you spend with them, and pretend to be human. Kodiak often tells people he is the son of God. We are 100% sure, absolutely certain, that Kodiak is Jimmy Comet. We’ve explained his name choices many times and his bragging is unmistakable, once you know the Code. Not to mention that he is at this moment trying to attack Hera as she types this post deciphering him and Guy Fieri.) Back to the article:
An understatement to be sure. In the episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that featured Comet, Fieri raved that the Yalie clam pizza and the Philly calzone churned out by Alefantis’ D.C. “dive” were “some of the best he’s ever had.” (We don’t know if Comet claims a Yale education but Yale is the location of the Skull & Bones secret society to which most male Illuminati belong and “Yalie” is a shout out to them. They may all be Greys at Skull & Bones, we are not sure. Comet’s cross-street neighbor at Politics & Prose also features a Skull & Bones shout-out on the sidewalk out front. “Philly calzone” refers to the Family Threes, which later we decode below to understand as Comet bragging of creating human Threes for the purpose of raping, torturing and murdering, and consuming them. So a “Philly calzone” is a human child designated a Three in the Traveler Family. Next, “churned out” refers to a butter churn, which spins. We in David’s family are called “Spinners” because we have different souls from humans and can spin them rapidly to create a laser energy we use to defend ourselves somewhat but which are not effective with the Greys. What Comet (Kodiak) is doing is running a human factory farm, where he creates humans to victimize and then some of them he gives a “spinner” soul taken from Hera’s own soul (as are all human souls), which they have torn apart to gain access to soul material. It is truly horrific and sounds bizarre, but they are Satanic and pure evil, and this is what they are doing. So “churned out by Alefantis’s D.C. ‘dive'” refers to churning out copies of humans, probably Spinners (our direct Family) specifically here but also Family Threes (Philly calzone). Fieri also clearly is involved in this since he is talking in Code in his quotes. Next, “Alefantis’ D.C. ‘dive’ refers to this past Earth location we live in. We are in the past from the “future Earth” where the Illuminati reside (and more Greys), and they “Dive” or “Descend” to us here in the past to prey upon humans and treat us generally like Westworld on HBO. ) Back to the article:
He also praised Alefantis for making his own tomato sauce. Fieri was even inspired by Comet’s wood-burning oven, imported from Italy and built on-site: “He’s built three ovens on his properties, just like mine.” (Fieri is saying that Alefantis creates Family Threes to use as human Pizzagate child victims, just like Fieri does. Incidentally, Kodiak hates the Family Threes, who are human beings closer to Ones like our Family than any other number is. All humans are David’s children. All beings are David’s children. They call Threes “pennies” and other demeaning names, (also “coffee” which appears many times in the Podesta emails), and Kodiak spurs the other humans to target them. So it is not surprising that Comet (Kodiak) would brag that he is “churning out Threes.” Kodiak is portrayed often in movies and shows, just like Bee is. Kodiak is the vicious guy in all black on Westworld, he’s Hector of Los Hermanos Chicken on Breaking Bad, and he’s Dr. Evil, among other depictions. We pass many messages about what is really happening on Earth in our songs, tv shows and movies. Please pay attention and look for our messages, especially if something happens and we stop posting on this blog.
The appeal of Comet Ping Pong goes well beyond the pies and other menu items (saying Comet offers a lot of “pies” that are “not on the public menu”) that are often slightly healthier yet hearty versions of standard Italian-American diner fare. (“Italian-American” means human Family Sevens, who apparently may be a group who is involved in this somehow? We know about your time machine access and your “look ma, no legs” “magic” using it, but what else? Sevens killed Hera during her last life when she first was abducted to here. That soul you carry, and that carries you, comes from Hera. You would not exist without her. She is my wife and I am your Creator. Do not harm Hera, and please do whatever it takes to protect her and my family, including the Threes, who may mean less to you, but they mean a great deal to me. David) Over the years, Comet has developed into “a kind of community center,” (“kind” is code for Traveler, as in, “are you Kind” i.e., “are you a Traveler?” So this is saying it’s a Traveler community hangout) regularly hosting fundraisers (code for the powerful people who control the “money” or “bankers” and they are human Traveler Sevens and also Illuminati) for local schools (“local schools” means the Sevens we think who are down here from the upstairs future Earth environment (all Illuminati up there, and Traveler Sevens down here) , they need money to fund their “vacations” down here on Earth, which they treat like Westworld on HBO), and other causes. And in the back (one code for aliens is “and” short for “android” so this means that the Pizza place is fronted as a Seven hangout, but behind that it is a Grey hangout) of the upper Connecticut Avenue restaurant (“upper” confirming that it is a restaurant catering to upstairs Illuminati “Players”), you’ll regularly find groups of people playing friendly rounds of ping-pong. (“playing” again confirming it is for the Illuminati “Players”; “friendly” confirming that it is for Travelers who are coded as “friends” while non-Travelers are coded as “Strangers.” Quick word to Travelers – your entire language, as you can see here, is used as a tool by the Grey aliens to trick you into following their orders. They control the Travelers and are the reason for just about every bad and disgusting thing on the news and in your own lives. They make all the “magic” with their advanced technology! We have to deprogram ourselves. We must remove the hats until we can remove the Greys hiding under them. They are snakes and we must lift the rock they hide under, which is the Travelers and Scientology, and government itself, if we hope to reveal and remove them from our human environment, where other non-human beings also live because many of them came in here to help us with the Greys. Only the Greys, (and some Twos being remote-controlled by the Greys), are a threat or even a problem. The Greys also are the Reptilians.)
Launched in 2006, Comet Ping Pong is Alefantis’ first restaurant in which he’s the executive chef, (it isn’t, he’s just letting pals know that it is Kodiak’s restaurant), and only second as owner, after Buck’s Fishing & Camping — which he had opened roughly two years before, and two doors down Connecticut Avenue. But Alefantis, who turns 40 this year, has worked in restaurants since high school, including a stint in New York working at a Bobby Flay location. Prior to opening Buck’s, he had served two years as the general manager of Johnny’s Half Shell in Dupont Circle. (Pay attention to any number or letter mentions and try to find the pattern. This one may be 2+2 =4 and then 4+2=6. Kodiak is the fake human head of the Traveler human Fours and Sixes, so it probably means that the numbers above are to tell Travelers just which “Family” numbers Kodiak is “executive chef” for. The regular Travelers do not know about many of the Illuminati code words used also by the Greys. So they could read this article and pick up on the Code directed at them, but not notice at all the other Code bragging about churning out human Threes, tying them up, roasting and consuming them.) Back to the article:
Alefantis, who briefly owned a small art gallery (“small” refers to Sevens and “art” refers to turning humans into other artwork, such as stuffing and mounting them, turning their skin into purses, etc and a gallery is the gallows where this activity occurs) in Georgetown a decade ago, now serves as board president of Transformer, a contemporary art gallery in Logan Circle. (Logan is Hera’s family name and “Circle” refers to humans, so Kodiak is currently “president” of the “Show” of torturing and killing Hera and our Logan Family. Kodiak is a “transformer” because he is a Grey pretending to be Human, but this also could refer to these insane people transforming human beings into “artwork.” They also do this to living humans, such things as skinning humans alive, and one frequent, common practice is to mount a live human on the wall, pinned like a “Butterfly” to “crucify” the victim by raping them to death with knives. We know firsthand.) His passion for the arts (Comet’s love of mounting and killing humans) is reflected (code for “Illuminati” as is “mirrors”) in both his restaurants, but notably Comet, which boasts a large mural of a blazing comet (Kodiak often boasts of being an astronaut or space traveler) created by a collective of artists, this magazine’s Christopher Cunetto among them. His unabashed love of theater (“theater” is code for the rape and torture shows, as is “opera”) has lead him to sponsor several local theatrical productions, and he equates operating a restaurant with theatrical endeavors. (This is important as he is saying that Comet sponsors the rape and torture shows, and he equates operating his restaurant with sponsoring these rape and torture shows. He is saying that this is “where the fun is,” which by the way, is a common phrase they use for raping and torturing people, and one of their disgusting songs about it is “Blinded by the Light” by “Manfred Man” – “man” means human, “fred” means “mob boss” and “man” again for human – Manfred Man. Blinded by the light is a song specifically about raping and torturing Hera to death. Because Hera’s soul was torn apart to create all of the humans at Kodiak’s “Taco Factory Farm,” or “Pizzafarm,” the Greys and Illuminati call her “Momma” or “Mother” among a few other code names. She is the mother of every human here, because your “spark of life” comes from her soul. We may get around to decoding that disgusting song but “blinded by the light” refers to capturing Hera (and other victims) like a deer in the headlights, paralyzing them using technology and then pinning them to the wall as we mentioned before attacking them and torturing them to death. “But Momma, That’s where the fun is.” means Momma is where the “fun” is for these serial killer humans and Grey aliens.) Back to the article, which if you have read closely, is starting to decipher itself! Once you know the Code and the context, the meaning is obvious and clear:
“Restaurants are a bit like theater,” he says. “Every day is like a new show. The interior is like a set. So it fulfills a lot of my desires.” (GROSS! A “day” is Code for one of Hera’s lifespans, they kill her over and over in different time loops, in this one it is her second time being killed, and her souls is moved to another body, to kill her again here or in another time loop. So Comet is bragging that each “Day” when Hera is moved to a newborn body in a new time loop, it begins a new rape and torture show. Hera’s entire life is broadcast live at all times to these sick Illuminati Players and Grey aliens. Her life is like a movie set but she is not told about this, just as in The Truman Show movie. So these Illuminati players prey upon her every day to amuse themselves knowing that they will be broadcast preying upon her. Hera has no memory of previous attacks so they prey on her repeatedly and she always is unsuspecting, just like the females in Westworld on HBO, a show the Illuminati Players make to mock Hera’s situation, and all humans here. “So it fulfills a lot of my desires” should have an apparent meaning to you, given the context.)
But while he points out that “it’s fun to do projects that begin and end,” as most plays have a closing date, “a restaurant has no end.” (again, “fun” is raping and torturing children, women and men, and Hera and our family. Projects that begin and end are all of their projects. No one ever makes it out alive from these shows. They are moved to another time loop for the shows and even if they managed to escape being paralyzed by Grey technology, they would be literally the only living thing out there that wasn’t a Grey or a human Illuminati. Continuing on, Comet is saying that while the victims come and go, since they are murdered, the shows will continue to be served to the Illuminati for eternity. Illuminati members do not die when their bodies die. They ascend back up to the future Earth where they came from, back to their regular lives. This Earth in the past is what they call “the Graveyard” since we all are long-dead up in the future. They come down here to play Westworld with us, to play Risk and Chess with live humans, then they go home. They orchestrated the implosions of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and choreographed having a plane fly by the Towers, becoming cloaked at just the right moment, to make it appear from some angles that a plane hit each Tower. They did a crappy job on the live footage portion, but have since improved on the recordings of 9/11. But original archived footage is available and even on You Tube. Once you know that they can cloak a commercial plane, then you can understand why the nose of the plane seemed to come out the other side after hitting the South Tower, followed by a “camera glitch” on every single network that produced a blank screen for a couple of seconds while the plane flew away under cloak. More on 9/11 here. Video of the cloaking as it appears live, here.)
Over the years, Alefantis has also become well-known for his grass-roots philanthropy, though his approach is decidedly low-key.
“I try to support a lot of things in the community — usually schools and the arts, (Traveler Sevens who are serial killers), but some gay causes as well.” (“gay causes” means something but we aren’t sure what. Bee often tells Hera that Kodiak is “gay” and she does not mean homosexual. She may mean that he only attacks “humans.”) One such cause is Food and Friends’ Dining Out for Life. This year, both Buck’s and Comet will donate 50 percent of every bill to the cause.
“I think it’s important for gay people to support our community’s causes,” he says. “And I think it’s important for small businesses to support local organizations, too.” (“Small business” is Code for Human “Business men” who are serial killers, as portrayed in the movie “Loopers” and mob movies (“organizations” aka “the company” aka “the firm”), so perhaps “gay people” means “Grey people.” ? We aren’t sure.)
Alefantis attributes his loose-limbed, casual outlook to his noncompetitive nature, a quality best exemplified by the game in Comet’s name. “I love ping-pong,” he says. “It’s not table tennis. You play to win, kind of, but you’re not trying to kill your opponent. You’re trying to have a good time.” (“Ping-pong” is well-established common code for gang rape or “sandwiching” a volunteer. Comet is saying that the “ping pong” at his restaurant is not table tennis, intentionally implying that it is gang-raping he “loves.” They call these rape and torture shows the “Game of Love” where they “love to death” the victims by gang-raping them (explained in this (explicit) Samantha Bee post about Kodiak’s illuminati wife “Bea”). Comet adds that you play the Game of Love to win, (ie to score) but the focus is not on killing the victim but only on raping them and torturing them, until they die on their own from their wounds and starvation. To them that is a “good time.” That is “where the fun is.” You’re only trying to have a good time, let the victim die whenever they are ready. After the children or adult victims have been raped and tortured for weeks and are near death, Kodiak (Comet) sells them at a discount to Pizzagate Players, who are required to consume their bodies and souls, as is explained in this document written and distributed by Kodiak himself (Comet).
METRO WEEKLY: Buck’s Fishing & Camping became your first venture as restaurant owner, in a partnership with local celebrity chef/owner Carole Greenwood. (Greenwood is Code for a Family Two alien) When was this exactly (“exactly” is Code but not sure for what, look for these odd sentences that have misplaced words such as here with “exactly.” Why ask that question? Only to be able to use the word “exactly”) and how did it come to be?
JAMES ALEFANTIS: I opened Buck’s in October of 2003. Carole and I conceptualized Buck’s together. She became the chef, I became the owner. We changed the name from Greenwood to Buck’s, but kept the commitment to art and artists, seasonality, community and a sort of communal table eating together. (An Illuminati Feast (“communal” means “a commune” full of “als” which are Mob Bosses or Family Bosses, i.e. high priests consuming victims.) Carole and I have similar values when it comes to food, we kind of apply them in different ways. Buck’s is more community-oriented in a way. It’s a little bit more welcoming. (More oriented toward Illuminati perhaps, often they describe thing but mean the opposite of that, so that Bucks is more “welcoming” means it is aimed exclusively at Illuminati, perhaps. Or it could just mean the opposite. “Bucks” is more of a human hunter sort of name, while “Comet” is more of an outer space, alien and Illuminati kind of name. The murals on Comet walls were saturated with Illuminati references.)
MW: Growing up, did you think that you might be in this business someday?
ALEFANTIS: I’ve always really loved restaurants, and I was always really interested in food and wine as a kid. (“wine” may refer to drinking human blood but we are told it means something else (not told what though.) My mother was a caterer part-time, so I would help her cook a lot.
Actually, when I was a kid I wanted to be a baker. I wanted to have a baker’s hat and wear an apron and make cakes and breads. (refers to literally creating human clones made solely to rape, torture and kill them. RUSH is the Greys’ own Satanic band, as is YES. Rush has a picture of a “baker” in a video on their Time Machine album (obviously bragging about their use of the Time Machine to clone humans by opening windows to our past, thereby giving rise to an identical population of us all. This they do repeatedly and we are closing those windows as soon as we can detect them as all of those clones will be tortured, except for clones deemed appealing to the Greys, who will keep those and empty out their human souls to use those clones as “human suits” to hide in. Why do they hide, when they have such control over us? Because we are a fun game to them. They object is to prey upon humans as much as possible, and get them to harm each other, without being detected. An example is 9/11 for which they blamed Muslims but it in fact it was the Greys and some Illuminati.) But I never knew quite what I wanted to do.
MW: Did you grow up in D.C.?
ALEFANTIS: Yeah. I went to Georgetown Day School, down the street, which I also support a lot. I have their teacher receptions, auction things, I’m on the benefit committee. I won the alumni award — it was for Most Supportive of the School or something — two or three years ago.
MW: When did you come out to your family? Was that a struggle?
ALEFANTIS: I came out to my family in my early 20s. I was running Johnny’s. I was kind of out to some friends, had a boyfriend, and my relationship with my parents had deteriorated over a period of time in my early 20s when I was in New York and partying too much. Once back in D.C., as I was building my life and trying to figure out what I wanted to really become, I realized, as many people do, that in order to become a truer person (“truer” is Code for a family Seven or human boss, and “person” is Code for an alien boss. The word “person” is read as “p” “ers” “on.” He became a “true” human and “er” which is Code for Family Boss, and a person (code for an “er” or Boss of the aliens, which are coded as the letter “p.”) I had to be honest and out.
I took my mother and father to dinner at Pesce, (Kodiak, Jimmy Comet literally is having his parents for dinner by raping, torturing and murdering and then consuming Hera and David and their Children. David is our Creator, which he knows. And his human soul he hides behind came from the destruction of Hera’s by his Grey companions further up in the future. They are utterly evil. He even brags about being “the son of God” all over the Heaven’s Gate website, while he is over here murdering God’s family. Pesce is a reference to Joe Pesci and specifically his role as a vicious mobster in Goodfellas. So he is saying that he turned Momma and his Father over to the vicious mobsters “for dinner.”), and came out to them. (Probably means at the final rape and torture show he reveals that he is a Grey, hiding behind a human soul.) In the past my father had asked me and I had lied.(Kodiak literally lies about everything, and especially he has misled David about what is really happening here, where Hera was taken to, and by whom. Kodiak befriended David and his wife “Bea” played the role of caring friend who would help David recover his abducted wife and children. We only found out that they were responsible, and all Greys collectively, a few months ago. Hera is attacked and then they wipe her memory, just of the the attacks, as they do in the show Westworld. Because they can control all humans with their technology, they call humans “robots” or “clothing” or “suits.” They have no regard for human life, it exists in their mind only to be a source of “fun” for the Greys and Satanic humans who rape, torture and kill them.)
And I felt tremendous guilt about that for a year or two. (Not a chance. They have zero remorse. Watch this interview with Bea as Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner’s mother and a snickering Anderson Cooper (who is also KODIAK)). But they were pretty supportive. My mother’s initial reaction was, “You always have to do things to get attention.” And my father was like, “We love you no matter what.” (That is Kodiak bragging that whatever else happens, the Pizzagate Players will “love Hera to death” and other victims, by gang-raping them regardless of what we try to do to defend ourselves. They are psychopathic and sociopathic. They are devoid of feeling. They are never nostalgic and never actually talking about their own families. They do not care about anyone. They are virtually indestructible and live for eons. They just jump into whatever human suit they find attractive and wreak havoc on the humans who are left, while “raising new crops” as they describe it by cloning humans to rape, torture and kill them too. Why hasn’t this happened to you? It may have and your memory is erased of the attacks. Or you may be lucky and off of their radar. But historically all humans in Hera’s time loop are killed on the same night as Hera in a staged “alien attack.” Then the Greys and some human Illuminati (some of them also hostages) move on to another time loop to do it all over again. The hostage human Illuminati are those who agreed to some Saw movie-type bargain, basically they hack up other humans and viciously rape and eat children because they don’t want their own families to suffer that fate. That is not a good-enough reason. You will have nothing worth saving if you take such a deal with the Greys. Your soul forever will be aligned with the Greys and they will take you along from time loop to time loop and expect you to viciously rape and eat children, women, men, even clones of your very own family, and of course clones of your own Creator’s family, for eternity.)
MW: Professionally speaking, have you faced any challenges being openly gay as a chef or restaurateur?
ALEFANTIS: Coming out as a young adult had its challenges, but I think about 11 years ago when I opened Buck’s. I was out, but I was kind of closeted in the business world, where you have to meet with your landlord and your banker and your lenders and all those things. And you leave out a lot. You don’t personalize, or I didn’t then, because it was a different time. (Comet is warning his friends not to identify themselves or say too much right now, LIVE, using the time machine, advising his friends by changing this old Comet article, warning them not to reveal themselves because “it was a different time” which is code for, “a different alien than you is in control of this environment right now,” and that “alien in charge” is DAVID, our Creator, and theirs.) I was a little bit cagey in my business dealings at the beginning. (Comet is saying that he creates human Family Threes to cage and attack, but in the beginning he started with making Family Twos, who are code worded as “little bit” which means “little” (lower Family number), “b it” which means aliens. So aliens that are little (Nines are a higher number and also are called TALL). So a little b it is an alien Two. This is confirmed by the Twos themselves here, where they have the Pizza pointing at its attacker.)
We have to stop for the night but we will continue deciphering this story as soon as we can.
It’s such a privilege and an honor that we’ve all worked so hard, and the generation before us worked so hard, to get to a point where I can do an interview like this and not worry about its ramifications to me and the business. And it’s important for me, or for anyone who is kind of out there as a gay business owner, to be out and active and available to be role models.
MW: It’s interesting to hear you put it that way. It’s quite possible that a fair number of gay Washingtonians aren’t aware that Buck’s and Comet are gay-owned. I only learned of it recently.
ALEFANTIS: Oh really? Well, they are. [Laughs.] One of the ways that a restaurant is so fascinating is that it’s really not about me, it’s about everyone who works here in a way. I have 70 employees between the two places. And at any one moment, a couple of them might be gay. And it makes me really happy when that happens, because it’s a way of mutually supporting each other. But it’s also really interesting to be working with cooks who are from other countries — Gambia, Nigeria, El Salvador, Guatemala. And having them be like, this guy is just like me and he’s gay. And he’s out. And that’s okay.
A lot of my staff has worked for me for 10 years. My cooks at Comet have been there since I opened. And over those eight years I hope they’ve learned to respect me for who I am, and that being gay is part of who I am. There have been issues where a cook will call someone a maricón — fag, in Spanish — and I’ll come down really hard on that person. But kind of in the same way I would come down on an employee who said something racist. I’ve had incidents where we’ve had to remove people who don’t share our values. I really try to create an environment of extreme tolerance and diversity within these communities, and it’s really one of my missions and goals. It’s really nice to have black people and white people working together, gay people and straight people, Hispanics working with a Gambian guy. Particularly in terms of the strides we’ve made as Americans, where at least in urban areas, there’s much more tolerance, much more acceptance and great laws that have been put in place in many areas of the country. But then if you go to Africa or you go to El Salvador, or you go somewhere else, the protections are not there. So these are people who are from a different culture, who are able to maybe have a few examples of gay people who they like and respect.
MW: But as you just said, outside of major metropolitan areas America isn’t often a beacon on LGBT concerns. For example, I noticed in the bathroom lined with state plates at Buck’s, you have an Indiana plate front and center above the toilet.
ALEFANTIS: A customer just mentioned that the other day. You know, Indiana is a place in America. It’s unfortunate that they have leaders that are terrible people, but the gay citizens of Indiana are people, too. So we fight the battle to include, not to exclude. Indiana is where people live. We’re Americans. You can’t condemn them just because there are a few crazy leaders.
MW: You mentioned having a lot of employees who have worked for you since nearly the beginning. Why do you think people seem to like working for you, or that you have pretty low staff turnover?
ALEFANTIS: Oh, I hope that they do. I try and pay people a good wage. It takes a long time to train someone to do things as a chef, the way you want it done. And those people are really valuable people. And if you have those people for a long time, they usually share your values. Another thing we try and do here is create a community. So those people are a part of our community, and they share our values, and I show them respect because they are hardworking and talented. Mutual respect, good pay. I try and give people the schedule they want. But at this point it’s not just me. I have managers in place that are strong, good leaders too.
MW: What inspired you to open Comet Ping Pong?
ALEFANTIS: I had Buck’s, and there wasn’t a lot up here. There’s Politics and Prose, an amazing bookstore and an institution. And there was a Thai restaurant called the Thai Room — the first Thai restaurant in Washington. It had kind of gone downhill. It was known for its Thai food, but either our conception of Thai food changed, or their food changed — but anyway, they were there for 32 years. And then one day there was a For Lease sign on the outside, and they were closed. So I was like, “Oh, no! I’m going to have to open a restaurant there or else someone else is going to do it. And it’s my block.” It was just a couple years after I started Buck’s. It felt like I had been in Buck’s for a long time at that point, because it was like two years and I was exhausted. It was just grueling.
I ended up getting the space. At that time, it had been an open restaurant for 32 years, and I was like 31 or something, so that restaurant had been there for longer than I had been alive. This is a lot of responsibility. And then my friend Eric Hirshfield, who used to own Duplex Diner, was like, “I’m going to buy the Comet sign. You’re opening a restaurant, why don’t you take it?” And I thought, I should totally have that sign, and then I’ll have a name.
The Comet sign used to hang next to Cashion’s in Adams Morgan, over a liquor store and deli owned by Sid and his wife Beverly Drazin. They were there for a long time, and people really loved that place and had a lot of nostalgia for it. And they were really part of the community.
MW: So Comet Liquors essentially inspired the ethos of Comet Ping Pong, though not ping-pong itself. Where did that come from? Did you grow up with the game?
ALEFANTIS: Yeah, I loved ping-pong. We played it at my family’s lake cottage in upstate New York, because my parents are from outside of Buffalo.
I wanted a place that was really inclusive, where people would feel you could just jump in and play. You don’t have to be super-skilled. It’s for everyone. And it has the nostalgia. It reminds people of where they came from, or their childhood. I’ve seen kids born and now they’re starting to play ping-pong. They’re someday going to be like, “Oh, this is the place I went every Friday night with my dad, and it was so cool. I could run around, I could play ping-pong, and it had the best food — best sundaes, best pizza, whatever.”
MW: But as fundamental as it is now to the business, I understand you didn’t actually go in with a vision for a back room with ping-pong tables.
ALEFANTIS: Costs escalated so that I could only afford to renovate the front half of the building. So I thought, “What am I going to do with the whole back half? Well, I’ll put ping-pong tables in there, and then I can roll them away if I want to have a party or do something else back there. They’re not permanent.” But then that really informed my design decisions — like the ball lights, and the tabletops made out of old ping-pong tables.
I’m about making things from scratch. Comet’s wood-burning oven I imported from Italy, we built it on site. We built everything from scratch on site. It took way too long — it was like a year and a half in construction, every day. Every detail. Custom-building those light fixtures.
MW: When did you decide that the back room could also double as a makeshift, DIY-esque concert venue?
ALEFANTIS: That started happening because when we first opened Comet, no one came. So we were trying to do anything we could. So we would have parties and have bands. And then we found out we were operating outside of our license for that. [Laughs.] So we went and got a music license, and suddenly there were all these cool bands that wanted a smaller venue, and so we could have them here. There are not a lot of opportunities for that in Washington. And also it fits with our commitment to communities. So D.C.’s old punk rock scene is here all the time — members of Fugazi, Bad Brains. Mary Timony of Ex Hex, she’s at Comet all the time — also, she’s a music teacher, so she does a showcase of her students twice a year where we do a daytime rock and roll show.
So basically that started out as anything we could do to stay in business. And now we’ve become a kind of community center. We host fundraisers for local schools. And I do partnering events with Politics and Prose, which are more high-end, seated dinners.
MW: You’ve cooked for some culinary heavy-hitters at those dinners, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and David Tanis, a former chef at Chez Panisse. Those must have been nerve-wracking.
ALEFANTIS: Yeah, it’s crazy. Actually, David Tanis was my most nerve-wracking, because he’s one of my chef heroes. His cookbooks are so important to me, and his column in the New York Times is so important to me. I read it every week, we think about it, it becomes part of our vernacular. Alice is honestly my friend now, because I’ve known her for years. Every time she comes to town, she always comes here.
Waters, and in some ways Gabrielle Hamilton [chef/owner of Prune in New York], were kind of the inspiration for a restaurant like this to exist. You have a real commitment to the seasons, a real commitment to the farmers, a real commitment to the community. And it’s really independent. Alice only owns one restaurant, you know what I mean? But when she talks about it, she’s like, “I’m creating a revolution.” The revolution is everything: how people eat, where your food comes from, who is respected in your community. She was like a mentor to me.
MW: Meanwhile, another celebrity chef was helpful in putting Comet on the map — Guy Fieri, who filmed an episode of his popular Food Network show Diners, Dive-Ins and Dives there five years ago.
ALEFANTIS: It’s so crazy. We had been open a few years by then. It took forever for Comet to be figured out. People were like, “You’re just a beer bar.” They didn’t appreciate what we were doing with the food right away. And I was honestly a little bit nervous. Because I had Buck’s, which had gotten good reviews. And I was young, and nervous to put myself out there. At Comet I was the chef, and I was thinking, “What if people don’t like my pizza?” So I didn’t really do anything, I didn’t really tell anyone.
Then the Food Network called, and I thought, “Oh, this will be cool, we’ll do it.” I didn’t really know the show even. His producers said, “You need to close for a day. These are all the requirements.” We filmed all day for two days. And as we’re cooking, they’re like, “You make this?” I said, “Yeah, what do you mean?” And they say, “You know, this is the best restaurant we’ve ever done.”
MW: What was it they couldn’t believe you had made?
ALEFANTIS: Well, we make everything from scratch. Other restaurants, even good restaurants, will, like, not roast their own peppers. You can just buy the roasted peppers in a can. Or you can buy garlic oil. Some products you can get, and they’re consistent and they’re easy. But I didn’t even know that existed actually until they said that. I was like, “What do you mean? There’s another way? You can just buy these things?” Because a lot of restaurants will open a can and put it on. Like our sauce — we harvest a whole crop of organic tomatoes — 10 tons of tomatoes every year. Can them all, store them in the basement, have like a harvest party when it gets loaded in.
Guy was very enthusiastic. We had a really great long segment, and it aired, and we had a viewing party. The next day I’m exhausted, I come late, and there’s literally a line from the front of the restaurant, down and around the corner.
MW: That had not happened before?
ALEFANTIS: I mean, sometimes we’d have a few people waiting. We open at 5. By 6, we may have a wait. This was 200 people standing in line. And it was like that for a week and a half. And they’re all ordering the same things, exactly what was on TV. And people drove in from Ohio, New Jersey, Florida. “We saw you on TV yesterday. We got in our car and drove overnight to come have your pizza.” But it also introduced us to a lot of Washington people. And now Comet is consistently busy with tons of the same people.
And also the Food Network just came back, a month ago. It was a one-day shoot for their favorite places from all the shows. Like five- or six-minute segments. So it’s like a full Comet segment with me cooking that’s going to air all over the place next month.
MW: I guess you’d better prepare for that.
ALEFANTIS: I know. The New York producer was like, “James, you need to open another Comet before this airs.” And I said, “When is it airing? May. I don’t have time to do that.”
MW: Are you considering that though, opening another Comet?
ALEFANTIS: A lot of people have approached me and talked to me about it. And a lot of people want it. Oh, I was just in this college town in Colorado. A Comet would be awesome there.” I do think it would make a lot of communities happy, because it’s a great gathering place. And everything is about fast-casual now — people just want to get in and get out. But I really think that there is a need to have somewhere to go with your friends to sit down and hang out for an hour or an hour and a half, and have good food.
I also believe in value. You should be able to go out to eat and not be gouged. The job of a restaurant is not to extricate as much money as possible from you over a certain amount of time, and then have you leave. We try not to rush people. Even like casual restaurants now, or these small-plates places, you end up spending $50, $70 a person and you didn’t even notice it and you didn’t really have anything. And you’ve been there for an hour and a half. [Laughs.] Whereas Comet you can have legitimately good food, good for you, sourced from a farm, fresh and healthy, and yet it’s still affordable.
MW: Do you have another restaurant concept in the works?
ALEFANTIS: No, I’m not working on another restaurant right now, at all. I feel like it’s hard enough to do these things, and it’s important to be committed to them. And after almost 12 years, I’m kind of able to do other things too. And to do something bigger, you have to delegate better than I’m capable of doing. I have looked in a lot of locations, but so far nothing has stuck with me. It’s also a really big commitment opening a restaurant as an independent businessman. A lot of restaurants these days are run by groups of people — like four brothers, and they can all do their own thing. For me, if I can hold on to what I have, I’m happy enough.
MW: And your brother is not involved with the restaurants, right?
ALEFANTIS: No, my brother I think wouldn’t mind it. But he isn’t. He has a wife and a kid. I think also being gay, you have a little bit more freedom. You’re taught at the beginning that you can be your own person, so take a risk. You’ve already taken so many risks, you’re like, “Let’s just do another one.” [Laughs.] Like when I opened Buck’s, people were saying, “You’re opening a restaurant? You’re so crazy! What if you fail?” And I was 27. “What do you mean, fail? I’m just opening a restaurant. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be awesome.” And luckily so far that’s turned out to be the case, but you never know. So now I’m thinking, “Opening another restaurant? That’s really risky. What if you fail?” [Laughs.] And also now it’s gotten really expensive, building things in Washington. Every time I look at a space, we get a quote for it, it’s $1 million at least. Usually it’s $1.5 million. I’m like, “To build a pizza dive?”
People are doing great work where they’re doing it. There’s a lot of Comet wannabe restaurants around this town as it is. Comet-inspired restaurants. It’s great, it’s great.
MW: Do you have time for a personal life? Do you have a significant other?
ALEFANTIS: I do have time for a personal life. I make time. At the moment, I’m single. But I date. I had a 10-year partner starting Buck’s. That was helpful because you could work all the time because you’re in a relationship, especially if you’re in a relationship with someone else who wants to work on their own things all the time. So that was nice getting started. I’m dating someone now. Who’s adorable! And so nice. But he lives in New York, so it’s a problem.
MW: You wouldn’t move back to New York even for love?
ALEFANTIS: No, no way. New York is great to visit, but Washington is a great place to live.
Buck’s Fishing and Camping is located at 5301 Connecticut Ave. NW. For reservations, call 202-364-0777 or visit bucksfishingandcamping.com.
Comet Ping Pong is located at 5307 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-364-0404 or visit cometpingpong.com.