Here's an announcement that should be music to Takoma Park's ears: Republic, the casual restaurant from Jeff Black's Black Restaurant Group, will host live music when it opens in the former Video Americain space, perhaps as soon as later this year.
"There are surprisingly few venues in the area, especially in Takoma Park, which has always had a big music culture," said Danny Wells, the restaurant's chef and partner who grew up in the area and lives nearby. "Takoma Park misses having that in the community."
Republic, which is still under construction at 6937-6939 Laurel Ave., will have two spaces suitable for hosting local bands: A front window for smaller acts, and a larger back patio with a garage door that opens the space up to the rest of the bar and restaurant. Wells is waiting until the space is a little more finished to test the acoustics, which will determine the types of bands that he'll be able to accommodate. He's working with the nearby House of Musical Traditions to identify bands that would be a good fit.
Republic is designed with the preferences of Takoma Park in mind, Wells said, down to the name: Given the neighborhood's independent streak, locals have long called the it "the Republic of Takoma Park."
That means a wide selection of vegetarian dishes to appeal to the neighborhood's meatless eaters, as well as a raw bar, which is what people expect of the seafood-focused Black Restaurant Group, which also owns Pearl Dive and BlackSalt, among other restaurants. Wells also plans to have elevated bar food for late-night concertgoers.
"It's going to be a step up from what most people get when they go listen to music," he said.
The restaurant, which will seat 70 plus an additional 20 on the patio, is being decorated in what Wells called "Takoma style," a manner of decor that is "hard to put into words." "It's a unique community," he said. "It's offbeat and eclectic and our design intent follows that vein."