At a meeting of ANC 6D's ABC committee on Tuesday night, we got some new details on two restaurants coming to Near Southeast in 2012, the Park Tavern at Canal Park
and Willie's Brew and Que in the Boilermaker Shops
at the Yards. Both are from Xavier Cervera of Lola's/Molly Malone's/Boxcar/Hawk n Dove/etc. fame, and Cervera was in attendance to answer questions from the committee. Let's go to the bullet points, shall we?
Park Tavern -
This casual restaurant in the pavilion on the south block of Canal Park
near M Street is aiming to be the city's first LEED Gold restaurant, thanks to a green roof, solar panels, and the various stormwater management aspects built into the park itself. And:
* There will be fewer than 100 seats inside the glass-and-steel structure, but outside Cervera expects another 75-125 seats, both in a private "summer garden" area by the park's skating rink/water feature and in a sidewalk cafe on the eastern side, along 2nd Place. Because the building is long and narrow, Cervera said that all of the inside tables will be along the windows. There will be additional space on the roof, where visitors can go to look out over the park or walk through the big light cube, but Cervera isn't planning service up there except for private functions.
* The menu will include Neopolitan pizzas and flatbread offerings along with seafood, steaks, and more, along with full liquor service; Cervera is asking for a CR license, with hours until 2 am Sunday through Thursday and 3 am Friday-Saturday.
* The restaurant is planning to offer breakfast service beginning at 8 am, though Cervera sounded a little skeptical of whether there will be enough business to support it. (Maybe via Congressional-type breakfast business meetings?)
* June 15 is the target opening date for both the park and the Tavern.
Willie's Brew and Que
- A few blocks to the south, Cervera is waiting for Forest City to finish construction on the Boilermaker Shops
renovation so that he (and other tenants) can then begin their build-outs. It will occupy the western end of the building, at 3rd Street (seen at right), where the full two-story space to the roof will be open. Details:
* There will be 230 seats inside the restaurant, with another 125 or so at outdoor tables in front of the building at 3rd Street.
* It will have "live" barbeque: Cervera said that he has put a lot of money into the kitchen, with charbroilers and custom-made smokers to churn out authentic North Carolina barbeque.
* And there will be plenty of booze to go with the food, as Cervera will be requesting a CT ("tavern") liquor license, mainly, he says, because with 81 home Nats games a year two blocks away at the ballpark, he can't envision being able to meet the requirements of a CR license where 47 percent of sales must be food. (Tavern licenses don't usually go over very well with ANCs, so this will be interesting to watch.) Full operating hours until 2 am Sunday-Thursday and 3 am Friday-Saturday will be requested on the license, along with an "entertainment endorsement" to allow live music inside until 11 pm Sunday-Thursday and 1 am Friday-Saturday and recorded music on the patio. (The entertainment endorsement discussion for both locations sidetracked into whether dancing will be part of the endorsement, with Cervera bemused at the notion of having to make people stop dancing if the music has moved them: "This isn't 'Footloose.' ")
* Cervera has no opening date for Willie's, but he says he expects Forest City to release the space to him for build-out within 2-3 months.
The discussion surrounding Willie's showed the committee members being a bit hesitant to make decisions for this restaurant that then will set the standard for the other Boilermaker Shops tenants who aren't yet applying for their liquor licenses, such the brewery
from the Churchkey team. The issue of noise, especially from the outdoor seating space, and how it will effect residents of the Foundry Lofts
across the street was brought up, though 6D commissioner David Garber said that no one is moving into this area without knowing that it's going to be an entertainment destination of sorts. Cervera, in arguing his cause, said that he fully expects himself and the Churchkey operation to be "good stewards" of the new nightlife in the neighborhood. The first three years of operations will be "painful fiscally," he said, but they want to be here first and be good tenants.
In the end, for both operations, the committee voted to recommend approval of the license applications to the full ANC, subject to the successful negotiation of a voluntary agreement between the commission and Cervera. (Note that neither liquor license application has actually been filed yet, but Cervera says he expects all paperwork to be completed by early next week.) The full ANC could take these applications up at its Feb. 13 business meeting, if papers have been appropriately shuffled by then.