One of the pleasant surprises of the bar scene in 2011 was how many of our favorite new spots weren’t part of mini-chains: Boundary Stone, the Standard, Smith Commons, the Queen Vic, MiG Bar — none of them needed to be introduced with “from the owners of...” But when we look ahead to projects worth getting excited about in 2012, there are some very familiar names opening new concepts in new locations.
Galaxy Hut goes west
We caused a ripple of suburban excitement last summer after reporting that Clarendon’s iconic, idiosyncratic indie-rock beer bar was opening a second location in Falls Church, taking over the former Stacy’s Coffee Parlor on West Broad Street. Owner Lary Hoffman now thinks his new place, Space Bar, will finally be ready to go in February. Look for two dozen microbrews on draft, a “gourmet grilled cheese menu” with sandwiches prepared on a grill behind the bar, and more space than the original Galaxy Hut, but (hopefully) with the same hip vibe. Once the bar is up and running, Space Bar will begin to expand: A rooftop deck is planned for late 2012 or, more likely, 2013.
3 Stars adds to the local beer haul
Like I said in my look back at the bar trends of 2011, last year was really about the rise of local breweries, with DC Brau, Port City, Chocolate City and Lost Rhino all becoming fixtures on local taps. Next to join them: 3 Stars, which is building out its brewery in upper Northwest D.C. If the name sounds familiar, it should: 3 Stars spent 2011 collaborating with Delaware’s Evolution Brewing Company and Baltimore’s Oliver Breweries, and those beers found their way into ChurchKey, Smith Commons, Meridian Pint and the Big Hunt. (Big Hunt beertender Dave Coleman is one of 3 Stars’ founders.) Look for 3 Stars’ ales to start flowing this spring.
A rocking new bar on Columbia Pike
South Arlington may not be a nightlife hub yet, but it’s building. William Jeffrey’s Tavern opened its doors in mid-December, and coming later this year is TNT Bar, a cocktail bar helmed by famed mixologist Todd Thrasher of PX and Restaurant Eve. In contrast to PX’s speakeasy style, expect TNT to have loud rock music, a few dozen seats and a cocktail menu that blends original concoctions with drinks created by bartenders from around the world. Back in November, Thrasher told me he expected TNT to open in March or April. From walking by, it looks like it may be closer to the summer.
Growth in Columbia Heights
The stretch of 11th Street NW from Park Road to Kenyon Street is one of my favorite strips for a bar crawl: Craft beers at Meridian Pint, pizza at RedRocks, a cocktail at Room 11, late-night dancing and shenanigans at Wonderland Ballroom. There are going to be a few new additions this year: Jackie Greenbaum (of Jackie’s, Sidebar and Quarry House) is opening a Mexican taqueria north of Lamont Street sometime this spring, with a rooftop deck and $5 margaritas. The Tryst/Diner/Open City team is opening Margot’s Chair, a 24-hour coffeehouse and restaurant at 11th and Monroe, in “early 2012.” And Room 11, which can be cramped at the best of times, announced this week that it’s taking over the neighboring Jeans N Things store to expand the dining room and kitchen. Work should be finished this summer.
Drinking in a historic place
It’s been a year since work began on Chez Billy, the Petworth landmark that’s the latest project for Eric and Ian Hilton. (See also: Marvin, American Ice Company, Blackbyrd Warehouse.) The French bistro, which will feature a DJ lounge, occupies the former Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks at 3815 Georgia Ave. NW, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In segregated Washington, Billy Simpson’s and its upstairs Ebony Table lounge was a gathering place for African-American politicians, civil rights leaders and entertainers. (The description of Billy Simpson’s on the National Park Service Web site (PDF) is a fascinating read, containing details of Ella Fitzgerald sipping Moscow Mules as well as meetings chaired by Walter Washington and Jesse Jackson there.) Petworth could use a destination restaurant and lounge, and with all this history, Chez Billy has a lot to live up to when it opens in the next month or so (fingers crossed).