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Arts Post
Posted at 10:02 AM ET, 09/23/2011

1409 Playbill Cafe readies itself for the next act

In the tradition of a great play, the finale is something that can be both expected and dreaded.


2001 image of the exterior of the 1409 Playbill Cafe. The restaurant is closing on Sept. 30 after 13 years in its Logan Circle location. ( Robert A. Reeder/TWP)
For Elsayed Mansour and Jeffrey DeMontier, partners and owners of 1409 Playbill Cafe, the time has come to close the curtains and begin act three.

Their venue, located in the heart of Logan Circle and across from Studio Theater, is closing Sept. 30 after 13 years in the same spot, with a moving destination and date to be determined. The whimsical restaurant has served several purposes in its thirteen year history: in addition to being an eatery and housing a 50-seat black box theater used by small companies in the area, the late night cafe also hosted an open mic event once a week and karaoke on Monday and Thursday nights.

Mansour says that he knew this day was eventually coming. “It was an old plan for the building to be demolished.” He and DeMontier has lived in the neighborhood for nearly 30 years, has seen a lot of change in the time since the cafe opened in March 1998 “We were the first restaurant open in this area to embrace the theater.”
2001 image of the interior of the 1409 Playbill Cafe. Traditionally, actors, have signed tiles on the walls of the theater/restaurant/bar. Here, George Tynon Crowley, not only autographed a tile, but sketched his portrait as well. (Robert A. Reeder/TWP)

They were given the option of a “very expensive” short term lease, but the repercussions would have affected menu prices, which was not an option. “We are dealing with actors and neighborhood neighbors and our price is very reasonable for them...we don’t want to really pass the high rent to the customer because we know that [the prices] don’t really fare for them.”

“I love theater and my partner loves theater, and we are involved with the theater. We made a lot of connection with actors and producers and directors. We are the place people come to hang around here and discuss the shows and talk about the new shows.”

While an opening date and location have yet to be determined, Manour assures that the re-opening of the restaurant will be before the end of the year. They are looking at locations around U Street or possibly Arena Stage. They have “three options” as to where they will move the new restaurant, but “haven’t decided yet” on a new location, and will make a decision “very shortly,” Mansour states. “I hope the place we will get will be the same handsome place like we have now.”

Mansour is “very optimistic” about the future, and will toast to new beginnings at the “Rebirth Party,” which is open to the public and is being held on Saturday at the restaurant, which he hopes will allows his faithful customers to realize how much they mean to both him and the restaurant. “The party is to thank them for our relationship, our commitment to them, that we are opening again, and we hope that they will follow us.”

“We are not [going] anywhere - we will be in DC.”

1409 Playbill Cafe is located at 1409 14th St N.W. To find out more about the second act of this restaurant, visit their Facebook page.

By Erin Williams  |  10:02 AM ET, 09/23/2011

 
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