Amsterdam Falafelshop and the art of moving on after a broken heart

As soon as you enter Amsterdam Falafelshop, you can see the changes the pandemic has wrought to this late-night institution, the place that helped wean Adams Morgan off its

3 a.m. diet of pizza slices the size of twin mattresses. You spot the usual pumps of hand sanitizer and Plexiglas dividers, of course, but mostly you notice what’s missing: the

exuberant, 22-option spread of dips, salads and pickled vegetables, all of which tempted you to drown your falafel balls in a sea of coral-colored toppings. The pandemic

ruined all that. The number of toppings has been scaled back, and the staff now packs your pita or bowls based on your selections, a sign that self-serve bars have not come all

the way back. Yet something else is missing at Amsterdam Falafelshop, too. Or, more precisely, someone else. You might have watched him, pre-pandemic, working behind the

counter, or you might have seen him camping out on the shop’s patio when the coronavirus tried to drain the life out of everyone in the neighborhood, and beyond. He radiated

megatons of energy, as if this shop and this world could not contain him. He was Scott Bennett, co-founder of Amsterdam Falafelshop and the unofficial ambassador of

cool, an artist, musician, scuba diver, restaurateur, storyteller and the center of gravity wherever he stood. He is no longer among the living, and I wanted to take a

moment this week to acknowledge his death and the hole it has left in Washington’s restaurant community — and in the life of the woman who continues to hold Scott’s dream.