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Monday's news that "The Brig", the long-planned beer garden at 8th and L, is moving forward caught certain observers flat-footed, especially certain observers who had lost the thread of the project's long road through the city's historic preservation review process, especially as it reappeared during 2013. (Though, to be fair, certain observers were in 2013 distracted by other circumstances.)
But in reading various documents more closely, the equally big news is that the project has gone from a restaurant with a roof deck and patio to a design that's more in keeping with the idea of a real "beer garden" -- the design that will now be built is of a big outdoor space with tables and room to stand around, plus a small "service" building that has no seating.
In 2011, site owners Mark Brody and Alan Gaunoux had planned what I described at the time as a "one-story building with a roof deck, in addition to the proposed ground-level summer garden. The look of the building (which is closer to 1 1/2 stories high) is very industrial, with large multi-paned windows and lots of "wood rainscreening" on the exterior and the roof deck."
The Historic Preservation Review Board's staff report in Feb. 2011 referred to the design's "somewhat chaotic and unfinished appearance," but the commissioners felt that it was on the right track and "was very close" to achieving acceptance. The next month, the owners returned with a "substantially simplified" design, moving to a brick veneer and other changes. This version appeared on the board's consent calendar, with final approval delegated to the board's staff.
And then we fast-forward to April of 2013, when Brody and Gaunoux returned to the HPRB with a scaled-back plan after apparently having "reevaluated their finances." The HPRB staff report described the new version as "largely an open-air 'use' of the existing lot, with a smaller service building rather than the indoor restaurant space previously proposed."
The new design included a one-story stucco building along the northern edge of the property, just for restrooms, storage, a small kitchen, and the bar opening up to the garden. There would be a roof-type structure projecting 10 feet southward to cover the bar area, and a paved area along the east edge of the site that could provide space for a food truck and trash collection. The bulk of the site would be "paved" with flagstone, and there would be a 6'6" "ornamental" metal fence surrounding the site, plus a central pole anchoring string lights that would provide illumination. All of which, according to the board's staff, would improve on the "visually disadvantageous" parking lot now on the site, as seen in the above photograph from March of 2014.
The service building became a focus, with the Historic Preservation Office having "discouraged the applicants from proposing trailers, shipping containers, or portable toilets." In June, a revision of the revised design updated the service building including signage and new fixed shutters on the building's blank wall along 8th Street, plus a "decorative parapet" and cornice along the roof line, similar to what is seen on several of the one-story buildings along Barracks Row.
On July 11, 2013, the board approved these concept plans, and by mid-August a building permit had been applied for, with a scope of work described as "a prepared food shop with an accessory fast food establishment (food truck) for 210 seats and 399 occupants." That permit took nearly 15 months and numerous corrections to get its approvals, with the permit finally being issued last week and the owner saying that he expects to break ground soon.
(And this huge summary doesn't even get into the Class CT Tavern liquor license fight back in 2011!)
So, all in all, it does sound like if you're one who likes your beer garden to be heavy on the "garden," this will be right up your alley. It also sounds like it's perhaps starting small, without too much of an investment, to see whether it catches on.
Comments (7)
   
 
 More About The Brig Beer Garden

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Comments

adamdonovan says: (11/7/14 2:02 PM)
Sounds like a local(er) version of the Dacha beer garden up in Shaw, which is a great spot. Would also explain the mention of porta-loos and trailers, as Dacha uses a refrigerated trailer to store the kegs behind the bar, and has a row of (very well maintained) porta-loos for the bathrooms.


JES says: (11/7/14 2:05 PM)
Correct me if i'm wrong, but it also sounds like a bigger version of Dacha. I've only been to Dacha once, but I don't remember it having space for almost 400 people.

I'm super stoked for this project, actually. It sounds kind of like the Fairgrounds, only much better in that they hopefully won't only sell terrible beer.


the Brig says: (11/12/14 11:20 AM)
We will only have good beer. Draft American Craft Beer and Draft German Beer as well as others. We will have live music on select nights.


Gamble Rogers says: (11/12/14 3:10 PM)
@the Brig

(and presuming you speak for The Brig)

As one of the few residents in the immediate area, your business will be welcomed by neighbors and Nats fans. Our section of Lower 8th Street gets plenty of foot traffic in the summertime during baseball season. Surprisingly, many fans still walk straight down Barracks Row all the way to M Street and then to Nats Park. If your beer list is good, you'll capture folks. If your beer list is good and reasonable -- and the average pint doesn't cost $8.50, like much of Barracks Row -- you'll capture lots of folks.

Since your place is largely outdoors, are you hoping to stay open through the fall next year? Beer, firepits and s'mores go together.


JD says: (11/12/14 3:12 PM)
(I can confirm that @the Brig speaks for The Brig)


the Brig says: (11/12/14 6:23 PM)
We hope to stay open as long as weather permits.
Yes to s'mores and fire pits.
We believe that we will be busy every day and not just Nats game days.


MJM says: (11/13/14 10:30 AM)
From the Brig to CBS Radio- L St corridor is seeing a lot of new places and construction. Wood delivered and new fencing at The Brig, Lofts well above ground, Cmty Cntr is above ground now, and 1111 NJ - can we count that as L St since their construction curb cut is on L St?

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1300 4TH ST SE 1001   
02/22/21 
AP BOWER RETAIL LLC / null
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1346 4TH ST SE APT 1M   
02/06/21 
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