Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CLOSING AND OPENING: Hardly a week goes by these days that we don't hear about a restaurant (or restaurants) biting the dust. Recently it was Colorado Kitchen, Meridian and Butterfield 9. The latest casualty: Merkado (1443 P St. NW; 202-299-0018), the Latin-accented dining room on the same block in Logan Circle as its older sibling, Logan Tavern. Although Merkado made money, chief partner David Winer says, "it never realized its potential given its dynamic location." He plans to close the 95-seat dining room after dinner Aug. 24.

The space won't be dark for long, however. Winer will take advantage of typically slow August to redecorate the interior and retrain the staff before reopening the space Sept. 8 as Commissary, an all-purpose cafe, lounge, coffeehouse and wine bar.

"We're engineering it to be all the things Logan Tavern is not," Winer says. That means daily continental breakfast until 5 p.m., pizza for lunch and dinner, an extensive dessert selection and lower prices. A separate lounge area will offer free WiFi. Billy McCormick, 35, the former corporate chef for Strike, a New York-based chain of bowling alley restaurants, will oversee the menu switch.

To keep things lively at Merkado up to the end, Winer intends to offer customers 75 percent off the price of every bottle of wine. Call it cleaning house. "Commissary will have a completely different selection," Winer says. [Clarification: The discounted wine promotion takes place August 17-24.]

-- Tom Sietsema

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