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A New Silver Spring Chef Feeds Nearby Residents Displaced by an Explosion

J. Hollinger’s chef Mike Ellis is making meals for hundreds of affected tenants

Emergency Crews Respond To Explosion At Silver Spring Apartment Complex
Emergency personnel respond to the scene of an apartment building explosion on Thursday, March 3 in Silver Spring.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Charlie Palmer Steak D.C. alum Mike Ellis, who’s close to opening downtown Silver Spring’s anticipated American restaurant J. Hollinger’s, is now shifting gears to feed his new neighbors in need.

On Thursday, March 3, a massive blast sent Friendly Garden Apartments up in flames. Miraculously, there were 14 injuries but no reported fatalities, and all of its residents have been accounted for as of Friday, March 4. The cause is under investigation, but officials said they believe it may have been a gas leak. One building was reduced to rubble and others in the complex were left without power, which suddenly displaced 225 residents on Thursday morning.

Soon after the explosion, Ellis says he got a call from the local Red Cross chapter asking him to make meals for affected tenants. So on Friday, March 4, he got up at 3 a.m. to start making lunch. Ellis’s partner is Silver Spring restaurateur Jerry Hollinger, whose The Daily Dish and The Dish & Dram kitchens will help handle meal prep. Ellis says he’s being tasked to make anywhere from 50 to 500 meals a day, on and off, for the next three weeks.

“We found out most of the displaced residents were Afghan refugees who eat halal meat. That was the twist at the eleventh hour,” says Ellis.

On Friday afternoon, after making the first 50 meals for displaced residents, he was on his way to Restaurant Depot to get more supplies for the weekend. Montgomery Housing Partnership is currently accepting donations for families affected by the blast.

On Friday, March 4, chef Mike Ellis made 50 boxed lunches of chicken salad, mixed greens, and bread for displaced Silver Spring residents.
Mike Ellis/official photo

J. Hollinger’s, opening in a renovated restaurant space next to the Fillmore (8606 Colesville Road), will pair la carte cuts of meat with produce sourced from local and Pennsylvania farms. The plan is to open by the end of March.