The place started out, as I'm sure many of you
who've been here longer than I have remember, as a Mexican
place where you brought your own booze. Then he went to Latin
and Spanish food. One of his lawyers, Paul Pascall's, favorite
stories is how the Park Cafe got its liquor license. Originally
they were turned down because a nearby church invoked a law
that says a business within a certain number of feet of a
church cannot have a liquor license. So he hired a lawyer
and challenged the law. He was an immigrant in this country,
with no special connections to anyone in power, and he used
the court system available to him and got the law overturned.
A great example of the American justice system being equal
and available to everyone, Paul likes to point out. He'll
also tell you about how all the windows in the neighborhood
were filled with signs supporting the Cafe.
So once he got his license, Alcione opened the
kind of restaurant he really wanted. A real, high end, food
lover's restaurant. And he began collecting wine. If you ask
him how he knows so much about wine, he'll laugh and say,
"In Chile you grow up, you know about wine. From day
one. You just drink it and you know. When the babies cry,
they don't dip the pacifier in milk, they dip it in the wine."
He currently has somewhere close to 3500 bottles in the cellar
representing wineries in Spain, Chile, South Africa, Australia,
France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Oregon, Washington State
and, of course, California. He loves California wine.
He develops the menus with his chef, Gustaf
(formerly the chef at the Palm on 19th Street, famous hangout
of Washington politicians). He adds new dishes every few weeks
to accommodate seasonal ingredients or to show off something
he's been working on.