May 14, 2023 - Food and Drink

Inside D.C.'s busiest brunch with Le Diplomate GM Peter Koll

Le Diplomate general manager Peter Koll
Peter Koll, gatekeeper at Le Dip. Photo: Moe Thajib

Welcome to The Sunday Scene, a new weekend series that goes behind the curtain with interesting D.C. people who lead big weekend lives. We're kicking it off with the boss of brunch: Le Diplomate general manager Peter Koll.

Le Diplomate just marked ten years on 14th Street — and the hot French brasserie shows no sign of cooling down, especially at brunch, when 1,000 diners pass through Koll’s dining room on any given Sunday.

  • The 36-year-old Bethesda native has worked for Starr Restaurant Group since 2017, and spent time at sister steakhouse St. Anselm near Union Market.

We caught up with him on how he wins brunch (and stays sane).

⏰ Wake up: Ideally between 4am-5am, followed by a ten-mile run through the city. “I don’t listen to music. It helps set the tone — it’s my peace time.”

☕ Caffeine: Le Dip mixes 500 espresso martinis a week, but Koll is an English Breakfast man.

💡First duty: A walk-through of all dining areas to make sure everything’s perfect. If there’s a string light bulb out, someone’s running to Logan Hardware. “There's a drive to make sure that from the moment the doors open, the experience is identical for every single guest who's coming through.”

📕 The waitlist: Two to three hours at noon — unless you’re one of the VIPs who has Koll’s cell and can be squeezed in if there’s wiggle room.

  • Bribes — even $100 bills, which do appear occasionally — don’t fly. “We tell people we’re happy to take their money, but it doesn't move them up the waitlist.”

When Very-VIPs arrive: Security at the highest levels may even hover over the hollandaise — as in, in the kitchen.

  • "It's always interesting when you have a couple of people in suits watching 100 or so employees whizzing past."

🪑 Craziest ask: “Someone requested to rent all of our patio furniture for their own event, which we were not able to do. But we tend to be very flexible.”

Toughest shift: Dealing with a break-in on Saturday, followed by “that incident with the gentleman who jumped on the bar” on Sunday. ICYMI: That time a man mounted the fully seated bar, smashed bottles and glasses, and caused a restaurant evacuation before his arrest.

🍔 Most popular order: The Big Mac-esque “Burger Américain” — about 1,200 sold a week. “No matter what time of day, no matter what day of the week, the answer will always be: burger.”

⭐ Star-struck moment: Biden and Kamala? Chris Rock? Nope — for a runner like Koll, Arlington-based ultra-marathoner Michael Wardian makes him weak in the knees. “We see lots of politicians and stars, and it tends not to hit me. But I was nervous to talk to him.”

🍳 Favorite brunch spot: Home. “I’m an introvert at heart, so if I'm able to cook a nice breakfast and watch Premier Leagues with my wife and dog, that’s an ideal Sunday morning.”

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