2021 Cocktail Chair
Andra Johnson got her start in the restaurant business like many teenagers – she needed a job to earn enough money to buy her next pair of cool tennis shoes. A local chain restaurant in Rockville gave her a break. Soon she was bussing, then hosting and before she knew it she had caught the restaurant bug. She headed to DC and became an accomplished barista and bartender with Mayorga Coffee and opened a franchise location where she was the GM and Events Coordinator. From there she moved to a bustling neighborhood restaurant, Open City, where she was a Managing Server for 4 years and was then promoted to AGM at The Diner, another restaurant in the Constantine Stavropoulos group. The Diner prompted a deeper interest in fine dining and AJ had to figure out the right establishment to help her make the move – one that would appreciate her love of great service and fine dining as well as her love of tattoos. She wound up first at Eola on P Street, a Dan Singhofen restaurant, then joined the opening staff of Le Diplomate, a Stephen Starr restaurant, and finally made her way into the Robert Weidmaier restaurant group as AGM and wine director of Mussel Bar & Grille Bethesda. In 2014, Andra jumped at the chance to work with Tony Brown and Gene Alexeyev at a new neighborhood restaurant, Macon Bistro & Larder, where she later became the GM, Beverage Director, and managing partner. In 2018, Andra also became a co-founder of DMV Black Restaurant Week. Currently, Andra is the Bar Director at Serenata where she renews her commitment to providing exemplary service and thoughtful cocktails each day. Her forthcoming book, 'White Plates, Black Faces', is set for release this fall and continues her work telling the stories of people of color in the restaurant industry. Andra attributes much of her success to the work ethic, accountability, and community imparted to her from her mother and sister, both of whom are a big part of Andra's life. to Andra's credit, she has taken those lessons and passed them along to the bartenders and hospitality professionals she works with and mentors.