Photo by Elizabeth Dranitzke

John and Cynde Foster

Cynde Tiches Foster's father bought Jimmy T's Place at Fifth and East Capitol Streets SE in 1969, so she began working there while in high school. She and John, a regular customer, met at the restaurant in the early 80s and married in 1991. 

Since then, they have lived there and run the restaurant as a family business, allowing them to spend precious time with their children. Stephanie Deutsch interviewed them in February, 2015, when they received a Community Achievement Award. The interview includes discussions of the prior business her father purchased, with pinball machines in the back; the interesting mix of customers who eat at Jimmy T's; and the story behind the Leg Lamp that's displayed in the restaurant window during the holidays.

Read Transcript
Interview Date
February 26, 2015
Stephanie Deutsch
Jim McMahon
Elizabeth Lewis

Full Directory


DEUTSCH: John, could you say your name?

J. FOSTER: John Foster.
DEUTSCH: John Foster. Cynde?
C. FOSTER: Cynthia Tiches Foster.
DEUTSCH: OK, you might want to talk a little bit louder, Cynde.C. FOSTER: OK.

DEUTSCH: This is Stephanie Deutsch and I am with John and Cynde Foster at Jimmy T’s [Place] [501 East Capitol Street SE] on February 26th, 2015. And Cynde, I want to start by just asking you to tell me about your dad, “Jimmy T.”

C. FOSTER: OK, let me see. Should I start with his very early life or with Jimmy T’s Place starting, or what?

DEUTSCH: Tell me about Tiches Tavern.
C. FOSTER: Oh, OK. My father’s family started a restaurant on 14th Street [1521 14th Street NW] back

in the 20s. It was called Tiches’ Tavern.DEUTSCH: Tiches. Sorry I pronounced it wrong.

C. FOSTER: That’s all right: T-I-C-H-E-S. And it was two brothers. One was married to Maggie, and they had two children. Then one of the brothers died, and my grandmother married the other brother and ... they were both Tiches! [Laughter]

DEUTSCH: So those were your grandparents.
C. FOSTER: Those were my grandparents. And the kids all worked in the restaurant, and YiaYia and my

Papou actually worked there for probably 50 years.DEUTSCH: YiaYia and Papou?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

C. FOSTER: YiaYia and Papou, which is grandmother and grandfather [in Greek]. They started in the 20s, and I believe they worked it up until the 70s. And sold the building, maybe in the late 80s or early 90s.

DEUTSCH: What’s there now? Is the building still standing?
C. FOSTER: I don’t think so. I think the whole block was changed, but I’m not sure. [It is now

condominiums and the Studio Theater.]DEUTSCH: So your dad grew up in the business.

J. FOSTER: He grew up in the business. They lived near the business until my dad was in high school. I think [age] 17. And then they moved to Virginia. But they still carried on the business.

DEUTSCH: And when did he open this ...

C. FOSTER: He opened Jimmy T’s in 1969.

DEUTSCH: Do you know what was here before?

J. FOSTER: Same thing.

C. FOSTER: Yeah, pretty basically the same. I mean, he had the other stuff going on, but it had the counter and all.

DEUTSCH: And tell me about Jimmy T’s the way it was back then.
C. FOSTER: OK. When my dad came in, he had magazines, he had everything. It was like an old drug

store. He had souvenirs, slushies ...

DEUTSCH: OK. So this building was built in 1867 as a pharmacy?

C. FOSTER: Right. By a pharmacist ...

J. FOSTER: It had a food counter and—what else did he say?—ice cream. Food counter and ice cream is what he said.

C. FOSTER: There was something about refrigeration put in for ice cream.DEUTSCH: And then a room in the back?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

C. FOSTER: Yeah, there used to be pinball machines. My dad tried everything. There were magazines. He had pinballs and comic books. A lot of people who have grown up on the Hill, [who] are probably now in their 30s and 40s, will say, “I remember the pinball machine and the comic books.”

DEUTSCH: [Laughter] So, just comic books for people to read while they were here?

C. FOSTER: Well, they could buy them, he sold them. And he sold magazines. There were souvenirs. There was a refrigerator [where] you could get like ice cream sandwiches and that kind of thing. You had all kinds of stuff. It was all shelves, so he sold aspirin because he was a patent medicine ... It was aspirin and bread and everything. There was a little bit of everything going on.

DEUTSCH: It was a bit of a corner store.
C. FOSTER: Yeah. Also, he worked at the Library of Congress, so he was back and forth between the ...DEUTSCH: He was an elevator mechanic?
C. FOSTER: Elevator mechanic, right.
J. FOSTER: With the Architect of the Capitol.

C. FOSTER: Under the Architect of the Capitol. He lived here, after the first year or so, he lived in the building also. First of all, there were renters here when he bought it, and they were here for about a year. Then he started living in the building and doing all the specials. He would make a special every night. He had the same specials every week and ...

DEUTSCH: Well, tell me what hours he was open.

C. FOSTER: Oh gosh.

DEUTSCH: It was really long hours, right?

C. FOSTER: They were really long hours. I know that he used to open at like 5:30 in the morning. I’m not even sure when he used to close.

DEUTSCH: After dinner?
J. FOSTER: He would sometimes ... I would drop by and he would be open at two o’clock in the

DEUTSCH: Well he must have had staff.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

C. FOSTER: Yeah, right. He worked two weekdays and then two weeknights under the Architect of the Capitol. So he had people that worked in the day and stuff. There was like two shifts.

DEUTSCH: And he had specials, you were going to say.C. FOSTER: Yes, specials that ...
DEUTSCH: That he made?
C. FOSTER: Right, he would make.

DEUTSCH: And what were some of the specials?

C. FOSTER: Well, he had a pot roast and a meat loaf. I can’t remember a lot of the other ones. But every Thanksgiving—he would be open on Thanksgiving—he would make a big turkey. And be open for the neighbors and stuff.

DEUTSCH: Well, that must have been fun. Do you remember ... were you ever at those Thanksgivings?

C. FOSTER: No, I wasn’t. I was always at our family’s. Sometimes he would come later. Usually, he would have time to come to ours afterward. But, yeah, he was really neighbor-oriented. There were a lot of rooming houses back then and [there were] a lot of elderly retired people in the area. And they would come in and eat three meals a day here. They would get the same three meals ...

DEUTSCH: Creatures of habit?

C. FOSTER: Right, we wouldn’t even have to really speak to each other, because we would know exactly what they were getting and just start getting it for them. And they knew exactly how much everything cost. They had exact money figured out. So, do not mess up the addition on that ticket!

DEUTSCH: [Laughter] So at this time you were living in Virginia with your mother?
C. FOSTER: Right, and I would come in on weekends and help him when I was in high school and

summers. Which was in the early 70s.
DEUTSCH: Now just before we get to that, you went to school out in Arlington?C. FOSTER: Fairfax. It was Tyson’s Corner area. Marshall High School.DEUTSCH: And so what did you like to do in high school?
C. FOSTER: I was in the ski club and the art club.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

DEUTSCH: All that artistic talent in your children has to come from somewhere!
C. FOSTER: So that was my high school days.
DEUTSCH: That was your high school days. And you came in here and worked on the weekends.C. FOSTER: [Laughter] Right.
DEUTSCH: And was it fun?

C. FOSTER: It was fun, and a girlfriend usually came with me. She would usually spend the night after the football game, Friday night at high school. And she would come in with me. She would be conned in the next morning.

DEUTSCH: Did you have to be here really early?
C. FOSTER: Yes, usually. And a lot of times my dad would come and get us and bring us back. So, we

were trapped.
DEUTSCH: [Laughter] You were stuck.
J. FOSTER: Couldn’t leave.
DEUTSCH: OK, John, lets go over to you a little bit. I know you grew up on a farm in the Midwest.J. FOSTER: Yes, Illinois.
DEUTSCH: Illinois. Carbondale?
J. FOSTER: North of Carbondale about 100 miles.
DEUTSCH: What kind of farm was it?

J. FOSTER: Agricultural. We had corn, soybean, wheat, barley. I mean all the standard fare. We had animals—horses, pigs, cows, guinea hens. I remember I didn’t realize they were unusual until I left the farm. I said something about [them] and somebody said, “What is that?” I am like, “That’s a normal thing.”

DEUTSCH: Not normal to other people?
J. FOSTER: No. But I left quite early in life so ...DEUTSCH: Left the farm quite early?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

J. FOSTER: Yes ...
DEUTSCH: I know you had a difficult childhood. Your mother died and you were raised by an aunt and


J. FOSTER: Yes, I lost my mother very early. Lost my dad early. Even when dad was alive, I stayed with my aunt and uncle a little bit. He died, I tried to stay with my brother and then I went back to my aunt and uncle. And ended up back with my brother for a little while. I ended up in Carbondale because he went to get his master’s there, I think. I started high school in Carbondale and quickly got into advanced studies. So, I started taking courses at SIU, which is Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

DEUTSCH: What were you interested in?

J. FOSTER: Physics, which when I started college I switched to philosophy.

DEUTSCH: What prompted that?

J. FOSTER: I guess the times.

DEUTSCH: Are we in the 60s by any chance?

J. FOSTER: Oh yeah, absolutely. I didn’t quite understand why people were motivated by hate. I still have a problem with that.

DEUTSCH: Did you figure that out?
J. FOSTER: It’s a great selling [point]. It seems to be doing quite well in these days. But I don’t get that

DEUTSCH: Did you get involved in politics—protest, that kind of thing?

J. FOSTER: Not really. I was there. I saw a lot of stuff happen that was not good. I saw a lot of stuff happen that was good. I was in some of the marches. I was very early on. I saw a couple of the national speakers. Marched with couple of national speakers at the time. I supported a lot of the views they had.

DEUTSCH: You mean the anti-war movement? Civil rights?

J. FOSTER: And equality and civil rights stuff. That’s why I have issues with some of the ways being used today. Because it was not the way it was intended. It’s part of getting old because you have memories that are ... memories instead of what revisionists are doing.

DEUTSCH: Ok, so it was the 60s, you were invited to join Uncle Sam?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

J. FOSTER: Oh, yeah, they recruited me right out of class. It was about two weeks after Old Main burned [unsolved arson on June 8, 1969]. They had a big riot on campus and burned a lot of the buildings. So there ...

DEUTSCH: So that was the late 60s.


DEUTSCH: So you were recruited by the army?

J. FOSTER: Military, yeah. I ended up in systems designs. But tended to get transferred around a lot, to different areas of the government. I got attached to all four military ...

DEUTSCH: How long were you in the military?
J. FOSTER: Too long.
DEUTSCH: OK. And what brought you to Washington?

J. FOSTER: Work, actually. I was still involved in consulting work. I went to school ... and a person came to visit another, so I drove them here. And when I was here, old friends of mine realized that I was out on the east coast and they said, “Hey, why don’t you come up to Maryland for a minute?” So I went up to a little bit south of Baltimore and said hi. So I got reinvolved with old acquaintances and started consulting.

DEUTSCH: And then moved here to the Hill?J. FOSTER: Yeah.
DEUTSCH: And when did you meet Cynde?J. FOSTER: Oh, 1983, maybe.

DEUTSCH: And you met her here, right here?
J. FOSTER: Oh yeah. I would come in ... I knew her dad probably a year, year and a half, before I ever

met Cynde. I would come in when he first opened. Sometime he would open 4:30, quarter to five.DEUTSCH: You’d come in really early?

J. FOSTER: I would come in and drink a pot of coffee because we would have early meetings. I would drink a pot of coffee so I would be nice and wired. So I heard all about Cynde and his ex-wife and son.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

But mostly about Cynde. So, I knew about her before I ever saw her. We were having a phone system problem and ...

DEUTSCH: Phone system problem here?

J. FOSTER: No, at the office at the work. And one of the techs [Dan] that specialized in that system wanted to meet here, so he could, I guess, have coffee. Asked me did I know where the place was and I said yeah, it was a block down the street, “Of course I know where it is.” So, I am sitting there waiting for him about eight o’clock. No, it was probably earlier than that, probably about seven. And Cynde showed up, walked in, walked behind the counter. “Oh, that must be Cynde. [Laughter]

So Frank came in, sat down, and introduced us. He’s going, “So, what do you think?” And I’m going, “Well, she’s very beautiful.” But I had forgotten that she was Greek. So ...

DEUTSCH: Was that a deal breaker?
J. FOSTER: Yeah, I really stepped in it. No, just joking! It’s a joke!

So I asked her does she date customers, and she said no. Actually, Dan asked—did because he saw me looking at her—did she date customers, and she says, “No.” So I said, “Well, what constitutes a customer?” because she’d never really served me. Only her father had served me. But at that point she had never really waited on me or served me.

So I started coming in later in the day then. Coming in nine, eight or nine o’clock, when I’d get a break. And after a while, I don’t know how long, three or four months ... We would sit down, and I would say not much and just kind of watch her. So I finally asked her if she would like to go to a movie. I think going to a movie was the first thing. She said, “No.” I said, “OK.” So I came back a couple of days later and I said, “Hi, how are you doing?” She was getting ready to leave. I said, “Would you like to go to a movie or do something after work?” “No.”

So this kept going on and on and on, and it got to be almost like a game because I knew she was going to say no. But I would ask her anyway. I don’t know how long. It was a long time—nine months maybe, a year, about that. I would come in a couple times a week. I would say, “Hi, how you doing? Well, would you like to go to a movie?”

So [one day I stopped] by and [said] “Hi, would you like to come over and watch a movie, have some wine?” “Yes.” I said, “OK, thanks a lot.”

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

I got up and left. I got about half-way down the block and I go, “Wait a minute! She said yes!” So I had to walk all the way back up, stood, opened the door and I said, “Did you say yes?” She said, “Yeah.” I said, “Good!” I said, “What time?” She said, “Three o’clock.” I said, “OK, I’ll see you at three.” So I left.

About a quarter to three, I realized I didn’t have cheese and crackers and stuff to offer. So I walked to Hayden’s [liquor store at 700 North Carolina SE], went to Eastern Market and walked to Hayden’s and got a bottle of wine. Got back about 3:05 and waited and waited and waited and waited. “Ah, well, here we go.” I thought it was a joke. The next day I come in and say, “How you doing?’ She says, “Well, where were you?” I am like, “I was waiting for you.” She says, “Well, I was there at three o’clock.” I said, “Well ...”

DEUTSCH: “I was there five past three.”

J. FOSTER: “... I thought you closed at three or you got off at three! I figured you had to clean up and you would take a few minutes to even drive there. I didn’t realize that you were going to be there at three!” So I asked her out again a couple days later.

DEUTSCH: It finally worked out. And when did you get married?

J. FOSTER: 1991.

DEUTSCH: 1991, where did you get married?

C. FOSTER: Warrenton. Airlie in Warrenton. Airlie [Hotel and Conference Center]. Was it a convention center? It’s like an old ...

DEUTSCH: Conference center
C. FOSTER: Conference center, yes, Warrenton.
J. FOSTER: A little stone church right outside of Airlie, and we had the reception at the Airlie.J. FOSTER: Yeah, the church was, like, 1835, a little stone church.
C. FOSTER: Very small.
J. FOSTER: She couldn’t get her dress down the aisle.
C. FOSTER: I know, such small aisles. [Laughter]

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DEUTSCH: Was it a big dress?

J. FOSTER: It was my mother’s dress, it was a big old 50s, 1950’s ... You know, hoops.

DEUTSCH: Do you have a picture of that?

J. FOSTER: Uh-huh.

C. FOSTER: We do somewhere.

DEUTSCH: [Laughter] I want to see it. OK, so, I know that Victoria [Tori] was born not too long after that?

J. FOSTER: A year later, ’92
J. FOSTER: September 11, her birthday is September 11.DEUTSCH: And I know that Forrest was born in ’95.
J. FOSTER: Right
DEUTSCH: Because that’s when we moved in.
C. FOSTER: May 24.
DEUTSCH: Moved in April.
C. FOSTER: Yeah, May 24th.

J. FOSTER: And Garrett [Gary] is ’98. Kids got started at St. Peter’s, moved to Hyde [Elementary School], then Hardy [Middle School], Wilson [High School], School Without Walls [High School]. Garrett went to Hyde and then went to Capitol City Charter.

DEUTSCH: Which is where he is now?
J. FOSTER: Right.
C. FOSTER: Correct.
DEUTSCH: And you’ve told me this, but Victoria graduated from ... ?J. FOSTER: Wilson.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

C. FOSTER: High School, with Frostburg State University.DEUTSCH: And was she an art major?
C. FOSTER: Art and history.

J. FOSTER: Art and art history.

C. FOSTER: Illustration.

DEUTSCH: There’s a strong strain of artistic ... and Forrest is studying art?

C. FOSTER: Communication arts.

DEUTSCH: At VCU [Virginia Commonwealth University], and Gary is still in high school.

C. FOSTER: A junior.

DEUTSCH: And have they all worked here? I know I’ve seen Victoria and I’ve seen Forrest ...

C. FOSTER: Garrett has done [things like] like carry the menus out to the table and that kind of stuff.

J. FOSTER: He’ll make coffee.

C. FOSTER: And carry food back out. He hasn’t done the same exact thing as Tori in waiting tables when he worked there.

DEUTSCH: What do you think is the hardest thing about running a family business?J. FOSTER: Being a family business!
C. FOSTER: All the family together, closeness! [Laughter]
DEUTSCH: Is that the good news and the bad news?

C. FOSTER: Yes. All the togetherness. I say sometimes that’s the meaning of too many cooks in the kitchen, when we are both there. [Laughter]

DEUTSCH: But you are the main cook?
C. FOSTER: Yeah.
DEUTSCH: And John does all the paperwork he told me.

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C. FOSTER: He does, and the ordering.DEUTSCH: Which is huge.

C. FOSTER: And he goes to the market. He goes to all the markets. I mean, he goes every day to a different market to get some supplies.

J. FOSTER: Now that Bernie [Bernie Prince, co-founder of Freshfarm, which operates farmers markets in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia] is retired, I don’t what we are going to do. Working hard.

C. FOSTER: We go to Bernie’s.

J.FOSTER: We drive to Georgetown.

DEUTSCH: She still has markets around town.

J. FOSTER: Go to Georgetown, Delaware [where Prince owns Blue Skies Farm].

DEUTSCH: Oh Georgetown, Delaware, that’s a nice drive. Was it hard doing the business with the kids being little and ...?

C. FOSTER: I think that’s one of the reasons we started closing at three.DEUTSCH: Yeah. That makes sense.

C. FOSTER: It was time to go get them at school. So we did shorten our hours once we had the kids. When we first had Victoria, we still tried the dinner thing, but it was hard. It was hard to work ten hours and then do that. So we did start closing at three after the children were here.

J. FOSTER: People say, “Why do you close at three?” I say, “So we can terrorize our children.”C. FOSTER: Terrorize our children. [Laughter]

J. FOSTER: We always had a plan of when the kids got old enough and out of school, all of them into college, we would start opening again. But I think now we are probably too old.

DEUTSCH: Oh, no!

C. FOSTER: We’re tired.

DEUTSCH: Oh, no! Yeah, well I can imagine.

C. FOSTER: But I think the thing about the business is that we were lucky we could live in the building. page 13

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

J. FOSTER: Be with our children.

C. FOSTER: And be with our children. That was a very big, important thing to us. The business was always a really big part of our lives and it meant a lot, but family was our main concern. Especially—I can’t speak for him, because he had children before—[because] we didn’t start until we were 36 or [so]. And I had my last child at 42, so by then we were pretty settled in what we were doing, but it was very important to us.

So we always wanted, you know, to have something in the neighborhood that people in the neighborhood could come to and feel comfortable and have a place to go, but ... we didn’t have to make a ton of money. We wanted to make enough to survive and do that kind of thing. But that was always my main goal—to have a neighborhood place where people in the neighborhood could come and have a breakfast boys’ club in the morning that would come every morning. But now a lot of them have retired and moved and it’s bad.

DEUTSCH: But now you have the next wave.

C. FOSTER: I know, that’s true.

DEUTSCH: Doesn’t my nephew Jason come almost every week for ... ?

C. FOSTER: Exactly. We do have a lot of regulars, I will say—thank you.

DEUTSCH: Most of them are related to me, or many of them. Well, you certainly succeeded in that, in having a neighborhood place.

C. FOSTER: That was my main ... that’s what Steve Cymrot and I used to talk about.DEUTSCH: And of course he was a regular.

C. FOSTER: Right. And we never advertised. Everything was word of mouth. It’s very interesting how the Hill is set up. Sometimes people on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue have never heard of us because we are a little bit further than they would come. It very interesting, everybody has their little spot.

DEUTSCH: I know, I do occasionally meet people who say, “Jimmy T’s, never heard of it.” It’s very funny.

C. FOSTER: Exactly. We never did advertising, but we are in all these tour guide books, and people will be walking around with tour guide books that ... Even people from France and Italy. We had somebody

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

come in and interview us and they were doing a French tour guide book. Sometimes we get some French folks, Italian ... It’s very interesting, especially when Cherry Blossom season hits.


J. FOSTER: We had a long stint with the Australian submariners.

DEUTSCH: The Australian what?

J. FOSTER: Submariners. They were at the Navy Yard. It was funny.

DEUTSCH: They liked it here?

J. FOSTER: We get a lot military.

C.FOSTER: And a lot of police.

DEUTSCH: The police I know are regulars.

C. FOSTER: Trying to mix the neighborhoods.

J. FOSTER: And we get a lot of plainclothes guys too. We get a lot of the presidential detail, a lot of Special Ops [Operations] people come in.

DEUTSCH: How has the menu changed? Or has it changed?

C. FOSTER: We used to have liver and liverwurst and all kinds of things like that. We used to have more dinner kinds of things. We don’t have as much of that. I think we probably focus more on breakfast. And we serve breakfast all day.

DEUTSCH: How many eggs do you go through a week?
C. FOSTER: I don’t know, you buy cases [to John]. How many cases do you get?DEUTSCH: Many dozens, many, many dozens.
J. FOSTER: Seventy dozen maybe.
DEUTSCH: Seventy dozen?
J. FOSTER: Maybe.
C. FOSTER: A week, is that right? Sometimes it’s better if I don’t know.


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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

DEUTSCH: Will you say that again about what kind of neighborhood it is?

C. FOSTER: It’s an interesting neighborhood, we have everybody. Anybody, it’s very interesting. It’s very varied.

J. FOSTER: We have a couple of the Supremes come in. The Justices [of the Supreme Court] will come in. They will be sitting next to a plumber talking about fishing. They come here to get away, I guess. That aspect. So they are allowed to let their guard down, and if they get bothered here, I am very adamant about people leaving them alone. Unless they want that. Some people like that, and they will actually bring somebody with them. And that’s fine, but if they are accosted here I tend to ...

DEUTSCH: Yes, you protect them.J. FOSTER: I try to.

DEUTSCH: And then when there are big demonstrations and stuff, you must get a lot of people. Or not so much?

C. FOSTER: Not too much actually. You know, well, with the Right to Life [the March for Life is an annual rally held in Washington on or around January 22], they are usually coming down right as we close. So we have not had many, and a lot of times it seems like that has been on a Monday.

J. FOSTER: Pro-Choice is the same.

C. FOSTER: That’s what I meant.

J. FOSTER: They come in and use the bathroom, and that’s about it.

C. FOSTER: Not too many.

J. FOSTER: Not any more.

C. FOSTER: I’m trying to think, I really don’t know if most of them walk Pennsylvania Avenue, because a lot of times they park down there. But not many, really.

DEUTSCH: Remember the Million Man March [a gathering of African-American men on October 16, 1995]?

C. FOSTER: Now that I do remember and that was a lot.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

DEUTSCH: That was right after we moved in.
C. FOSTER: Oh my gosh, now that was crazy, because the whole street was just people after people

after people after people.

DEUTSCH: And I guess they were goal-oriented, so they didn’t stop.

C. FOSTER: You know, that might even have been a day we were closed. Because we were watching. You know, it might have been a Monday or a Tuesday, because I think we might have been closed two days a week then. We were just watching from ... That is one of the times I actually saw that many people.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, it was an amazing sight.
J. FOSTER: I don’t think they let them park anywhere, so they all had to park at RFK [Robert F.

Kennedy Memorial Stadium, 2400 East Capitol Street SE].DEUTSCH: They were coming in the busses from ...

C. FOSTER: Yeah, that was ... what year was that?DEUTSCH: It was the year we moved in. It was ’95.C. FOSTER: OK.
DEUTSCH: It was the fall of ’95.

C. FOSTER: OK, so that’s a lot.
DEUTSCH: Well Cynde, it’s hard to imagine that you ever have time to do anything other than cook and

be at Jimmy T’s. But do you have hobbies, what do you like to do?

C. FOSTER: We have a small place on the Potomac, in a little town called Colonial Beach. And it’s really, really quiet. And I love to go down there and play in my garden.

DEUTSCH: Vegetables or ...
C. FOSTER: Just plants. It’s not vegetables.DEUTSCH: Flowers?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

C. FOSTER: Yeah, flowers. I actually really enjoyed when my kids would get a Monday holiday and I could spend a day with them, because we work weekends and so there wasn’t that much weekend time together with the kids. But I enjoyed a Monday off when we could all hang out.

DEUTSCH: Is that on the Bay?
C. FOSTER: It’s on the Potomac River, right above the Bay. It’s in the Northern Neck area.J. FOSTER: Where the Potomac widens out to the Bay.

C. FOSTER: We’ve had that house for about 25 years. We actually bought it with my father and we would all go. My dad would be there, and after he retired he would come every summer and stay there. And we would go take the kids down every weekend and hang out.

J. FOSTER: Kids would go tubing, had a catamaran and a little ski boat.C. FOSTER: We had a little boat.
J. FOSTER: Ski boat, kayaks and ...
DEUTSCH: Catamaran.

C. FOSTER: It was great for the kids to be able to get to know their grandfather. My father worked all the time when I was growing up, so we had to really try hard to see my dad. One of the reasons I came here to work is that that’s how I got to spend time with my dad. I was a big daddy’s girl. And once he bought this, he was working both places. He had hardly any time at all.

DEUTSCH: Did you ever have the thought that your children would carry on the business or did your dad have that thought at all?

C. FOSTER: I am going to say with myself, my children have gone to school and I want them to do what they have gone to school for. But if they want to come and do this, I will be so proud and behind them. If it’s not, I understand. I don’t want them feeling like they have to.

DEUTSCH: Have any of them ever expressed an interest?

C. FOSTER: You know, they worked here in high school and that kind of thing and they have dealt in a little bit. I think it actually might take a while before they get that feeling that they would like to do this, but I am not sure. What do you think? Tori is always saying that she would maybe take it over but she would not ...

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

J. FOSTER: Cook.
C. FOSTER: She would have people running it or something. I always thought maybe they could make it

into an art café. And sell their art as their food.DEUTSCH: There you go. [Laughter]
C. FOSTER: We actually tried to talk her.
DEUTSCH: As a neighbor I would like that as an Art café.

C. FOSTER: Do you know, we tried talking it up. We were laughing with Forrest when he was starting to go to school for art and we had a chef [Spike Mendelsohn, a Washington-based chef featured in theTop Chef television shows, and owner of several Capitol Hill restaurants] in here and he’s going, “You know, you could go do culinary art.” I don’t think he understood quite what “culinary” was, so we were trying to talk him into culinary art school. And then he could come in and do that. Spike. Spike was razzing him about it.

J. FOSTER: Actually Spike offered to get him in.

[Spike Mendelsohn had previously named Jimmy T’s his favorite spot in the city in a January 6, 2014, item in the Washington Post: favorite-spot-spike-mendelsohn-2/?utm_term=.8a48a9fe0364.]

DEUTSCH: So you have no plans in the immediate future to retire. You’re way too young.C. FOSTER: No. We have one more to get through college.
J. FOSTER: And grad school.

C. FOSTER: But, you know, I do enjoy this. I do enjoy my customers. They are like my family and friends. We are so lucky to have them. We really are because we have some great people. It’s funny, because we’re to the point where we’ve seen generations of families now. And the Hill is an interesting place where the kids move back here and raise their families. I mean, generations and generations. It is just crazy.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, it is crazy.
C. FOSTER: I always wonder if you go back to other neighborhoods if it’s like that. But there are so

many. You remember ... Well, I don’t know, they probably had moved by the time you ... but Libby


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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

[Sangster] who used to run the antique store [Antiques on the Hill, at one time located at 701 North Carolina Avenue SE]. Remember, they lived there ...

DEUTSCH: My sister got her house.
C. FOSTER: That’s right, and one day Libby’s grandson, who went to school with our son, was sitting at

the counter, and I was like laughing, going, “You guys are like third generation, fourth generation ...”J. FOSTER: School kids.

C. FOSTER: Forrest would have not have been a Hill ... I mean he would have been a Washingtonian kid because of my dad, but he didn’t grow up on the Hill. But it was interesting how my kids ... You know how many generations they were.

J. FOSTER: Oh, no. They let him out again.
DEUTSCH: And, of course, this is the perfect place to observe everything.
C. FOSTER: Oh, you can see the Capitol through all these windows. You can watch all kinds of things.DEUTSCH: So, Cynde, did you go to college?
C. FOSTER: I started and I did not finish.
J. FOSTER: Because your dad brought you here to work.
DEUTSCH: You started at NOVA, right?

C. FOSTER: Yes, I went to Northern Virginia Community College. And I went to my third year and I was doing art. And then I started working here, and the more I knew, I was doing everything. But my daughter Victoria is the first one in my family to graduate from college. And that was a really big goal of mine to have my children to go to college. I really think in this area the kids are oriented and goal- oriented to want to go to college.

DEUTSCH: And that’s one of the nice things about living ...
C. FOSTER: Yeah, it really is. I’m so proud of her. Because you can get them there but they still have to

do it.
J. FOSTER: Or else!

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

C. FOSTER: [To the microphone] Does somebody have a job for an art major?

DEUTSCH: [Laughter] Tell me about the Leg Lamp.

J. FOSTER: We really can’t tell the whole story ...

C. FOSTER: I’m not going to tell the whole story. Well, we actually had a customer that brought us his Leg Lamp.

The leg lamp in the window of Jimmy T’s Place, January, 2016. The lamp is a replica of the award won by the father in the 1983 film A Christmas Story.]

J. FOSTER: I don’t think he was allowed to have it at home.

C. FOSTER: We were displaying his Leg Lamp, and maybe a year ago one of our customers came through and talked to me. He goes, “I have something that your husband and I discussed, and I have it in the car. Can I bring it in?” And I am like, “OK.’ And as I am looking out the window, he is walking around with a Leg Lamp! I think his wife said it has got to go. And where did they bring their Leg Lamp?

DEUTSCH: So now you have two.

C. FOSTER: No, the other person has theirs back at their house, but now we have our very own Leg Lamp. And I’ve had people that had no idea about the movie Christmas Story. It’s the major award. I have other people that come just to see the Leg Lamp.


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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project John and Cynde Foster Interview, February 26, 2015

DEUTSCH: When is the Leg Lamp ... is it just in December?
C. FOSTER: I do November to December, but it’s been there a little bit longer. It’s time to move the Leg

J. FOSTER: It’s in the front widow.

C. FOSTER: We close the week of Christmas and New Year’s, and we put it in the front window. I actually have to admit I think it looks perfect there. But I’ve got to tell you this story. You know, Tori would be home from school and we’d be closed that week. I’d be so excited to have time with Tori and the family because we’d be off all week and we’d come down here in our pajamas. And I’ll cook breakfast on the grill. And we’ll be lined up [at the counter].

J. FOSTER: Because where they were they didn’t get breakfast ...

C. FOSTER: There was this man knocking on the door, and Tori was like, “We are closed!” And he’s like, “We have all this family coming to town to see the Leg Lamp!” And Tori is like, “But we are closed!”

He put a note on the side door, he put a note on the front door: “Please call me.” I’m like, “You’re not coming for food, you’re just coming to see the Leg Lamp!”

DEUTSCH: You can see the Leg Lamp from outside.
J. FOSTER: Because we had signed pictures, the BB gun that was signed ...C. FOSTER: The other stuff is up there, but it was just like, “Really?”DEUTSCH: That’s a nice place to end.


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