Thursday, November 08, 2012

A Blossoming Bloomingdale


Bloomingdale, DC’s funky, off-the-beaten-track Northwest neighborhood, is on the verge of exploding with new dining and nightlife options. When the dust clears in six to nine months, the neighborhood could have up to eight new drinking and dining establishments, potentially turning it into a genuine destination.

Sprawling west from the intersection of Florida Avenue and North Capitol Street, the architecturally rich neighborhood has offered few amenities to the swarm of newcomers, until now.  The area only gained its first table-service restaurant, Rustik in 2010; a second, Boundary Stone, took another year to open.  Now, it seems, restaurateurs and other entrepreneurs have discovered the area.  On First Street, a short commercial block will soon hold three new restaurants.

Aroi Fine Thai and Japanese Cuisine opened several weeks ago.  Directly across the street at 1837 1st Street will be Costa Brava, a Spanish tapas restaurant that could open in the next few months. According to a placard in the building’s window, the restaurant hopes to stay open until 3am on weekends, though the owner and neighbors (who oppose the hours) met for a mediation process last week, and ANC Commissioner Hugh Youngblood says the owner will probably be held to the same hours as Rustik next door, closing around midnight on weekdays and 1am on weekends.

An empty space at the corner of 1st and Seaton Place is scheduled to become the Red Hen, an Italian-influenced restaurant that Youngblood predicts will become a city-wide destination restaurant. According to the Washington Post, the owners are DC restaurant veterans Sebastian Zutant and Mike Friedman, and the interior architect—Zutant’s wife, Lauren Winter—is responsible for some of the city’s hipper eateries, like Rogue 24 and Chez Billy. There’s no word on an opening date.

Around the corner on Rhode Island Avenue, Grassroots Gourmet, a bakery serving cakes, cookies and coffee with a progressive twist, hopes to open at 104 Rhode Island Avenue in two weeks. At this point, the shop won’t have seating for patrons, but co-owner Jamilyah Smith-Kanz says the market will help determine the store. “We’ll see what happens: the neighborhood is shaping it as much as we are.”  

Next door, Demers Real Estate, which is leasing the building, says the company is negotiating a lease with the owner of Petworth’s Domku restaurant. The new establishment would supposedly be a vegetarian one, but Domku owners are not talking publicly.

Across the street at 113 Rhode Island Avenue, in a former barbershop, a window placard announces the Showtime Lounge, a coffeeshop by day, beer/wine/spirits hangout by night. There’s no word on when the establishment will open. “I think they’re taking their time on it,” said Youngblood.

Even North Capitol Street, not known for its high end retail, will sport several new establishments. Teri Janine Quinn, ANC representative-elect (who just won Youngblood’s seat) is opening a wine bar - Lot 1644 - at 1644 North Capitol Street. The bar will also serve food, and Quinn hopes to eventually add a cheese shop to the front of the building, though the latter may not come for a while. “I’m concerned about rolling that out immediately, because North Capitol doesn’t have foot traffic,” explained Quinn. She could not give a date for the bar’s opening.

A building two doors south of Quinn’s, at 1626, has been a neighborhood sore spot for years. Engine Company 12 Firehouse was taken over by local developer Brian Brown years ago, who promised to establish a hopping three-story restaurant, each floor with its own theme. The project was supposed to be completed by spring 2011, but construction simply languished.

Finally, last week, amid negotiations with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Brown sold the building to Abbas Fathi, who also owns Shaw’s Tavern. “We promised the city to have the entire project done in nine months,” said Steve May, who’s handling renovations. The final product will be a full service restaurant featuring American/southern cooking: po boy sandwiches, burgers, and hush puppies. But both Fathi and May were already involved in the project prior to the sale, and neighborhood observers are skeptical.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

10 comments:

JohnDC said...

I'm really hoping the firehouse will actually gain traction. The fact that it's been given to the owner of Shaw's Tavern gives me hope.

Skidrower said...

Great to read this article. Bloomingdale is such a wonderful neighborhood, but the inability to walk to much of anything has been a significant negative. With a good commercial infusion, it could emerge as one of the most desirable neighborhoods. Let's just hope that the neighborhood powers-that-be (ANC, NIMBYs) don't kill it off with unreasonable demands.

Anonymous said...

Disappointing to read about the new ownership of the Firehouse. The new owner has a reputation for shoddy construction and working without permits. Shaw's Tavern being one example (failure to procure a liquor license when he opened). A building that the new owner was renovating in the 300 block of H Street NE (in violation of a stop work order) recently collapsed and damaged the adjacent property as well.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a better name for this article be "A Blooming Bloomindale"?

:-)

nearby said...

everything about the firehouse has been a disappointment. it's hard to believe that the city hasn't taken the property back and reissued the RFP.
i don't plan on supporting them.

R ST RESIDENT said...

I LOVE that the owner of Shaw's Tavern bought it, it has demonstrated to be a solid anchor to the Shaw neighborhood and will have similar outcomes in the Bloomingdale/Eckington neighborhood. I am a STRONG supporter of this new restaurant (awesome menu ideas!) and I will eat there/bring all of my friends there/and tell everyone I know to go there. We are in a HIGHLY underserved area and we've got the demographics to boot, we desperately need a "Shaw Tavern" type restaurant here. Stay positive and support the efforts!!!!

Anonymous said...

This sounds great! Couldn't be more excited. We love Rustik but am very glad to welcome new restaurants to the neighborhood

Anonymous said...

Fantastic news about the Firehouse! I live a few doors down and will be a daily customer. Hands down,this development is the one of the best things that could happen to this part of North Capitol.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if we'll get more threats from May about how the neighborhood is responsible for his incompetence.

From 5/11: http://bloomingdaleneighborhood.blogspot.com/2011/05/open-letter-to-community-from-engine.html

Maybe he'll have to forge some more liquor license documents like he did for the first attempt at Shaws.
http://petworth.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Shaws-Tavern-Findings-of-Fact-Conclusions-of-Law-11-CMP-00314-11-02-2011.pdf

And for the Shaws fans, it only opened AFTER he was well out of the picture.

While I want to see this open, I don't trust this group to operate in good faith with the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Exciting news! Bloomingdale, Eckington are wonderful neighborhoods, and North Capital is ripe for development, especially with all of the NoMa spillover (Trilogy apartments). That nasty liquor store on R and North Capital does not help the neighborhood at all, though.

 

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