The 40-seat cafe opens out to an enclosed courtyard that can seat 30 guests. Expect a couple of the plush armchairs that give Tryst the home-away-from-home vibe that keeps the place busy.
“Our customers fit into the Phillips Collection — what they do, their client base,” said Jocelyne DeHaas, “general logistical ubiquitous executive,” at Tryst.
The museum cafe will house exhibits, starting with Brazilian artist Sandra Cinto’s “One Day, After the Rain,” a collection of ink and acrylic drawings that will be on display through December 2013.
“Our collaboration with Tryst is unique because we’ve asked them to help us transform the space and make it a little cozier, more of a gathering place,” said Keith Costas, special events director at the Phillips.
Costas considered six operators before selecting Tryst, which he said “has a great following of people who love the concept of a third place — a gathering place other than home and work.”
This is not the first time the museum has commissioned an outside operator to run the cafe. Firehook Bakery took a stab at it shortly after the cafe opened in 2006, but the chain backed out once its three-year contract was up. Then, FoodArts stepped in for three years, before closing its operations.
American University alumnus Constantine Stravropoulos opened Tryst in 1998, following it up three years later with a 24-hour concept, The Diner, two doors down. He rounded out the portfolio in 2005 with Open City, an eatery in Woodley Park.
Stravropoulos attempted in 2008 to open another diner in a shared space with a yoga studio and comedy club at 1840 14th St. NW. But the deal fell through when the landlord sold the building for $9 million to furniture retailer Room & Board.
The restaurateur continued to scour the market for another site, landing on a ground-floor space at 1020 Monroe St. NW in Columbia Heights. He purchased the 7,000-square-foot space for $1.9 million last year. Construction is under way for the 24-hour diner with a target completion of late summer. DeHaas said the company is still working on a name.