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Greetings. I sent this private announcement out to long-time members of this website about a week ago (if you are one, and didn't get it, then rest assured it was merely because of a glitch in Invision's software). Now that the story has gone public (and I believe Warren Rojas may also be writing something about it), I'll share it with the community at large.

Cheers, and wish me luck (I'll need it),


Hi, I'm sending this note exclusively to long-time participants of donrockwell.com, so if you're getting it, let me start off by saying THANK YOU for all you've done for the community.

Over five years ago, I founded donrockwell.com. I never wanted to name it that, but all the good names were taken, and a Famous Restaurant Critic advised me that if I didn't put my own stamp on it, nobody would take it seriously, so I listened to what he said.

During the past five years, dr.com has grown from being a tiny, close-knit band of marauding food pirates to a large, diverse community, with statistics measured in the thousands and millions.

The whole time, I've been running this rapidly growing monster in my "spare time" with the help of a tireless troupe of volunteers who've never asked for anything in return.

For the past couple of years, I've known that donrockwell.com - in its current form, and with its current rate of growth - is unsustainable in the long-term. I've spent many hours thinking, stressing out about it, and every time I'd arrive at the same conclusion: At some point, something was going to have to give ... but what?

What am I supposed to do when so many people have so much vested in this community? Do I flip a switch and turn it off? Do I start charging everyone? Do I start throwing advertisements in your face? Or maybe I should just let the whole thing decay, and die a long, slow, death, hoping that nobody will notice how bad it's gotten.

I kept blindly thinking some Martian would appear at my front door holding a sack of money. Or maybe Ed McMahon from Publishers Clearing House would show up, or maybe I'd get a phone call from the MacArthur Foundation.

Slowly, very slowly, it became more and more clear, painfully clear, that none of this was ever going to happen. So here I was, all alone at sea, an amateur, part-time fisherman doing battle with a giant, fighting marlin relentlessly pulling at my line, my resources being sapped, and me starting to lose the fight, in danger of either letting go or being dragged into the water. What was I supposed to do?

Early this summer I was driving through rural Ireland with my son. We'd just had lunch, and he'd fallen asleep in the car, leaving me nothing but green countryside and not a care in the world. I wasn't really thinking about any of this, but all of a sudden, things came pouring into my mind, and within twenty minutes, my entire future was mapped out for me.

Above all else, one thing became clear: donrockwell.com needs to stay the way it is, and compromising it would be a huge mistake.

Beginning next week, the first prong of a multi-pronged approach to serve both diners and restaurants to the best of my ability will be launched, with the second prong coming later this year. In tandem, the two may eventually change the landscape of DC dining, all the while preserving the integrity of donrockwell.com - which is going to remain a separate entity, untarnished and unchanged.

As you read this letter, you should no longer consider me an "amateur" in the restaurant business; I am going to take my great passion - and perhaps my greatest area of expertise - and make it my career.

DCDining.com will have its soft opening next week, and will be the first of its type in the United States, if not the world - a concierge service where I will lead tourists, visitors, businesses, and anyone passionate about dining to the right restaurant. Publicity, hype, and marketing? They'll have no effect on my decision making, and if I have any say in the matter, those superficial lures are going to have less and less importance as time goes by.

At this point, I want to thank Leigh Maltese, without whom none of this would be happening. To say Leigh has been "instrumental' in bringing this to fruition would be an understatement - she has been the engine driving this project, and dcdining.com would all just be an unrealized daydream if it weren't for her endless work. She will continue on, not only as the 'librarian' for donrockwell.com, but also as an integral part of the continued growth of dcdining.com, having my full support and authorization. I know that I'm given to superlatives, but I don't think I've ever met anyone with a faster, sharper mind than Leigh Maltese.

It's too soon to begin discussing the second, complementary prong that will be launched later this year, so I'm going to close this letter by thanking everyone for our first five years, and assuring you all that the time, effort, and commitment that you've invested in donrockwell.com will remain in force, with my full dedication and respect to the document and community that YOU are responsible for building.

Kind regards,

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