Washington Post, Mark Kuller, Former Tax Lawyer Who Opened Acclaimed Restaurants in D.C., Dies at 61:
Mark Kuller, a former tax lawyer who transformed his prodigious appetite for good food and drink into a diverse collection of critically acclaimed restaurants in Washington, died Oct. 16 at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 61.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, said his daughter, Candace Kuller.
The son of a bookie who took bets for the Mafia, Mr. Kuller went on to become, according to the New York Times, “a major player in corporate tax shelters.” As part of his job studying tax codes and entertaining clients, he developed a serious interest in restaurants that eventually spurred his desire to change careers. ...
If Mr. Kuller had carved a new career path for himself in his 50s, he had also created a new life at home. In 2010, he married Kristin Connor, who was more than 20 years his junior, and started talking about being a father again. (Mr. Kuller had divorced his first wife, the former Janet Goldberg, in 2003, according to a Washingtonian profile; he had two children from that marriage, Max and Candace, who both work at their father’s restaurants.)
But last year, just days after Mr. Kuller learned Connor was pregnant, he received tragic news: He was diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer, a condition with a short life expectancy.
Mr. Kuller, his friends said, began to divide his days into short-term goals. The first was to apply his research skills to seek out the best cancer treatments and medicine. The second was to live long enough to, at the very least, see the birth of his twins.
On Jan. 29, he tweeted a blurry photo of two pink newborns. He wrote: “Hello world! Meet Ida Lillian Kuller and Cash Prescott Kuller. Mama Kristin doing great!”
Within weeks, the new parents’ joy turned to grief. Ida Lillian died in her crib in April. Mr. Kuller’s survivors include his wife, Kristin, and their son, Cash, both of Bethesda; his children Max Kuller and Candace Kuller, both of Washington; and a brother, Jason Kuller of Bethesda. ...
Mr. Kuller was a 1975 finance and accounting graduate of New York University and received a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1978. He moved to Washington in 1982 when McKee hired Mr. Kuller to serve as a lawyer-adviser in the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Legislative Counsel. Two years later, Mr. Kuller served as a special assistant to the chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service. ...
He moved into private practice in 1986 when he started working with McKee again at King & Spalding, a Washington firm where Mr. Kuller would become a partner. More than a decade later, in 1999, Mr. Kuller and McKee became founding partners of McKee Nelson.
In 2004, a federal judge singled out Mr. Kuller for criticism for his role in helping Long-Term Capital Management, a giant hedge fund that collapsed in the late 1990s, take $106 million in tax deductions.
Toward the end of Mr. Kuller’s legal career, McKee said, “he sort of lost his passion for the law, which is understandable. He had set his sights on something else.”
McKee was not surprised when his colleague finally left the law field in the mid-2000s to open Proof. By that point, Mr. Kuller’s reputation as a gourmand was firmly established among McKee Nelson clients when each year he would coordinate the firm’s annual holiday dinner.