Poplar Springs owner
“Our mission and our philosophies are straightforward and simple:
Create a great product, provide excellent customer service and you'll succeed.”
Chef Howard Foer was raised and educated in Potomac, Maryland, and his regional roots are evident in his culinary creations, which are distinguished by locally sourced products and embrace the slow-food philosophy. Fresh organic ingredients—some straight from Poplar Springs’ own gardens—play a pivotal role in our ambitious European-style menus. Even local wine is celebrated, with Virginia labels joining The Manor House Restaurant’s long and impressive roster of New World and Old World vintages.
Howard’s fascination with food has been lifelong. As a teenager, he liked to cook—more than anything because he loved the way a meal brought people together.
“When I was young I used to cook eggs for everyone in the family. Even today, I think a good, elegant Sunday brunch is the best meal of the week. It’s the middle of the day, you’re awake and feeling social and you’re with people who are close to you.”
It was in college that Howard knew he wanted to cook professionally. After earning a business degree from the University of Maryland, he joined American Café Catering as its operational chef. He later worked under Chef James Papovich at Le Chardon d'Or in the Morrison House Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.
In 1987, he decided it was time to leave his own mark on the culinary scene. Howard and Lauren Levine, his wife, launched Festive Foods Catering in D.C. with Howard as executive chef. After a dozen years building the successful catering business, which continues to grow, Howard and Lauren started thinking about taking it to yet another level.
"At some point, every foodie fantasizes about owning a restaurant—or even an inn. Burdened by more than my share of those fantasies, I wanted both. My vision? A combination boutique hotel, first-class spa and fine dining restaurant in the bucolic countryside, yet close to a major metropolis.
“One day, I just decided to make it happen.”
Poplar Springs was born.
The chef readily admits that fulfilling the dream has been tougher than he’d imagined. But Howard and Lauren are a good team and they are supported by skilled people they trust and who share their vision. Howard is the master behind the menus and special culinary events at The Manor House Restaurant, and he oversees all food and beverage operations on the property, including at social and corporate events.