Comet Ping Pong
|Comet Ping Pong|
View of Comet Ping Pong from outside during the day
|Current owner(s)||James Alefantis|
|Street address||5037 Connecticut Avenue NW|
Comet Ping Pong (often abbreviated as Comet) is a pizzeria restaurant and concert venue located in Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C., on Connecticut Avenue. It was founded in 2006 by James Alefantis and Carole Greenwood, with Alefantis eventually becoming the sole owner. The restaurant is known for its pizzas and the concerts that it holds in its back room.
Founding and Carole Greenwood
Comet Ping Pong was originally founded by James Alefantis and Carole Greenwood in 2006. It was placed on the same block as another restaurant that they co-owned together, Buck's Fishing and Camping, so they could easily move back and forth between the locations. The restaurant met with initial success and was able to find a niche in the gourmet pizza market in the D.C. area. Greenwood served as the chef of both restaurants, and was notorious for her artist-like treatment and control over the food she created. She left her position as executive chef and co-owner in 2006 citing urgent family matters and other personal interests. The Washington City Paper's Tim Carman felt that both Comet and Buck's Fishing & Camping had managed to succeed without Greenwood after her departure.
Conflict with the ANC
When Comet Ping Pong opened in 2006, Alefantis agreed with the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board that the restaurant would not stay open past midnight and would not have live entertainment. By 2008, however, the restaurant was hosting live music events and some neighborhood residents complained that the business was open after midnight. Also, a member of the ANC criticized Alefantis for having placed a ping pong table on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant to attract and entertain customers. The ANC member, Frank Winstead, published a video on YouTube, "Ping Pong in Public Space", which showed people playing ping pong outside the restaurant and implied that the situation was a traffic hazard. Anticipating that he was going to request outside seating, Alefantis brought the table indoors.
Alefantis held a meeting with the local ANC board to formally request that it recommend remove its formal arrangement so he could put in outside seating, have live entertainment in the restaurant, and remain open after midnight. The meeting was acrimonious, with some ANC members accusing Alefantis of violating the agreement and holding live entertainment in the venue. Frank Winstead stated that Alefantis was, "... trying to turn this area into Adams Morgan with the murders and rapes." The ANC decided in Comet's favor by a 4-3 vote and the audio recording of the meeting went public. Live music resumed on August 8, 2008, after the decision and Frank Winstead was defeated by a wide margin in the next election.
In 2016, a theory known popularly as "Pizzagate" was widely shared online (especially on Twitter, Gab, Reddit, 4chan, etc) and many online personalities discussed it, including former Huffington Post reporter David Seaman  and Mike Cernovich. The premise of this theory was that Comet Ping Pong was part of a child trafficking hub that involved many high-ranking politicians and the Democratic Party. Proponents claim that campaign manager John Podesta's emails, which were released by Wikileaks, used certain food-related terms that indicated pedophilic tendencies. Moreover, they cite Alefantis' Instagram account photos and the murals within Comet Ping Pong itself as indicative of pedophilia. The New York Times  and The Washington Post, among many other news sites, have declared that this theory is false.
Services and reputation
Comet Ping Pong is both a pizzeria and a live concert venue. The Washington Post's food critic, Tom Sietsema, gave Comet two and a half stars, noting that its pizzas "are as good for their thin and yeasty crusts as for their toppings." The Washingtonian called the restaurant in the "top tier" of Washington pizzerias. New York magazine featured Comet in its "Where to Eat" section of a 'Navigating the Potomac' feature, describing the restaurant as a "hipster-heavy pizza parlor". The DCist featured Comet Ping Pong's 'Time-Out' pizza as one of the ten best in the area. The restaurant also appeared on an episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, where he called the Yalie clam and the Philly calzone pizzas some of the "best he's ever had".
GQ ranked James Alefantis as the 49th most powerful person in Washington partly on the basis of owning Comet Ping Pong and its cultural cachet. Ping pong tables populate the back room which serves as Comet's concert venue, which features a stage at nearly ground level and a borrowed sound system. A number of artists and bands have performed at the restaurant, including Speedy Ortiz, The Apes, and Tussle. DCist's Megan Jayasuriya noted of the venue, "It's not often that, on your way into a punk rock show, you have to carefully skirt around the band members, for fear of interrupting their ping-pong match."
- Kliman, Todd (October 1, 2007). "Pizza Wars". The Washingtonian. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Sietsema, Tom (June 1, 2009). "Seismic Changes at Buck's and Comet Ping Pong". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Moyer, Justin (June 1, 2009). "Adios, Carole Greenwood". Washington City Paper. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Liu, Jaime R. (June 1, 2009). "Carole Greenwood out at Buck's and Comet". DCist. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Carman, Tim (October 16, 2009). "Carole Greenwood's Empire, Minus Carole Greenwood". Washington City Paper. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Kim, Eddie (June 18, 2008). "Small Victory for Comet Ping Pong at ANC Meeting". DCist. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Fisher, Marc (September 28, 2013). "Saving Sidewalks From the Evils of Ping-Pong". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Hess, Amanda (June 19, 2008). "Frank Winstead Gone Wild: The Recordings". Washington City Paper. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Hahn, Fritz (August 22, 2008). "Comet Amps It Up Again". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Austermuhle, Martin (November 5, 2008). "The Local Races: Change Also Came to D.C.". DCist. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- David Seaman (November 25, 2016). "David Seaman Twitter Profile". Twitter. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- Kang, Cecelia (November 21, 2016). "Fake News Onslaught Targets Pizzeria as Nest of Child-Trafficking". New York TImes. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- Editorial Board (November 25, 2016). "‘Pizzagate’ shows how fake news hurts real people". Washington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
- Sietsema, Tom (September 18, 2009). "Comet Ping Pong Review". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Kliman, Todd; Limpert, Ann; Nerenberg, Kate; Rapuano, Rina (August 16, 2011). "Cheap Eats 2011: Comet Ping Pong". Washingtonian. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Sax, David (August 6, 2009). "Navigate the Potomac River". New York. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Hughes, Sarah Anne (September 18, 2013). "The Ten Best Pizzas in D.C.". DCist. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- "Food Network On The Road/Comet Ping Pong: Washington DC". Food Network. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- "Farm to Table". Food Network. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Cherlin, Reid; Fischer, Rob; Horowitz, Jason; Zengerle, Jason (February 2012). "The 50 Most Powerful People in Washington". GQ. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
- Jayasuriya, Mehan (June 15, 2009). "Click Click: Mika Miko @ Comet Ping Pong". DCist. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- Paschall, Valerie (August 13, 2013). "Speedy Ortiz @ Comet Ping Pong". DCist. Retrieved October 8, 2013.