"There's plenty of real estate between tables," Sen. George McGovern told restaurateur William Homan.
Space to conspire in The Broker restaurant on Capitol Hill entices congressmen, senators and their fellow travelers. "I could have put in 172 seats," said Homan, "but we only have 160 so there's more room between tables."
Adding to the feeling of privacy, a whole row of tables is set against the wall, under a glass-domed skylight, with canvas curtains draped at the support columns. To break up sound, a slat ceiling is hung vertically instead to horizontally.
The entry is lighted by the great half-moon widow, original to the 1847 building.Originally the back part of the restaurant was a separate building, united by a courtyard serving a meat broker, the origin of the name. The Broker, at 713 Eighth Street, is one of the new restaurants and shops in the revival of Barrack's Row.
As you come into the front door, you see a fine sold oak staircase, made by Ives Frederigo, leading up the second floor dining room. On the floor is a Belgian rug in an oriental design.
"We'd wanted an Albert Paley sculpture in the entry," said Homan, "until we priced it."
"People look good in this space," said Homan. The whole room is barebones in design so that people are the decoration.
Walls are stripped down to the brick. Tables are topped with butcher block. Bare branches are stuck in pedestal vases. (These proved a bit too austere and will be replaced with vines this fall. Homan didn't want to use too much greenery originally because he didn't want it to look like a California restaurant.) The chairs, three inches wider than usual, are the same as they found at a fast food chain -- but now with expensive fabric and natural wood. Antique columns and more canvas draperies and Belgian rugs give the upstairs a cosier look.
Homan is partners with Horst Klein, the chef, Stavoros VeLetsis and Harry Socorso. David Jungel and Kathi McWilliams of Design Works Inc., Illinois, worked with the partners on this and other restaurant projects.
The Broker is a restaurant that seems to be just right for its spot. It isn't a place you'd choose to drink champagne on your wedding day, but it's a great place to carry on the assignations of everyday.