Wednesday, August 03, 2011

President Obama Celebrates Debt Deal With Lunch At DC's Good Stuff Eatery

"Michelle eats here all the time," President says as he hosts mid-day celebration at popular DC burger joint...
Earlier this month President Obama said he'd like both "a good hamburger" and a Congressional debt deal as gifts for his 5oth birthday on August 4th, and both his wishes have now come true. To celebrate the successful conclusion of the default drama, the President today treated five White House staffers to lunch at DC burger joint Good Stuff Eatery, departing the White House at 12:25 PM for the short drive to Capitol Hill. The President's lunchmates had "been working nonstop for months on resolving the debt ceiling issue," a White House aide said. (Above: The President and his aides during lunch)

Good Stuff is owned by former Top Chef competitor Spike Mendelsohn, and beloved by Congressional staffers; it also features a "Prez Obama Burger" on the menu. More importantly, it's a favorite haunt for First Lady Obama, who is known to have eaten at Mendelsohn's two DC restaurants at least six times in the last two years.  Mrs. Obama often flies under the radar, so there could have been many more visits. The First Lady is memorialized on the menu with a healthy turkey burger, "The Michelle Melt," which features "South Lawn Herb Garden Mayo."

"It smells good," President Obama, clad in tie and shirtsleeves, told the Good Stuff staffer who took his order at the counter. "Michelle eats here all the time, but I don't get out."

Mendelsohn has also guest cheffed at the White House, and in 2009 told Obama Foodorama that he cooked secret Good Stuff take-out burgers for the President. The joint was mobbed with a lunch crowd as President Obama arrived with OMB Director Jack Lew, Assistant to the President and Director, Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy Ann DeParle, Chief of Staff to the Vice President Bruce Reed and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling.

The President chatted with patrons and posed for photos as he placed his order, and was seen with a burger, fries, bottled water and salad as he sat with his party at a long table by a window on the first floor of the restaurant (rather than, say, a Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich...wink wink wink). There was a selection of milkshakes on the table, and an extra plate of fries, too. The President paid cash for the order, and also treated a woman standing beside him in line.

The President gifts a little boy with a milkshake...
The President laughed and patted Nabors on the back as the group ate. He chatted with a family seated at the next table, offering Andrew Parker, 11, a choice of one of the milk shakes on his table.

"Choose any milkshake," the President said, according to Parker. "I guarantee this table isn't going to drink them all."

Maddy Parker, 13, told pool she was thrilled because two of her friends had once sat next to the President at a basketball game.

"Now it's Even Steven," she said.

Elsewhere in the restaurant, customers kept on eating, though some jumped up for a chance to shake the President's hand.

"He asked us if he had finished our burgers," said Nora Bessey, an intern at the copyright office.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), was on his way to pick up lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant, and stopped in for a three-minute chat with the President.

"We talked about the difficult vote the other night," Butterfield told reporters outside the eatery. "I explained to him that I didn't vote with him, but I'm glad that it passed. He said he understood."

The President emerged from the restaurant at 1:36, to a crowd crying "Obama!" They spilled over into Mendelsohn's sister eatery next door, We, The Pizza, another favorite haunt for Mrs. Obama. The President shook hands and then headed for his Suburban. After an uneventful ride back to the White House, the President and his staff entered the West Wing at 1:44. He travels to Chicago late this afternoon for a 50th birthday fundraiser, and will celebrate with a private birthday party in the Rose Garden tomorrow. (Above: The President waves to the crowd after lunch)

*Getty photos