Left Door, the new bar from Tom Brown of the Passenger, will occupy the brick building on the right of this Google Street View image. The Garden District beer garden is on the left.
The Passenger's Tom Brown is heading to 14th Street NW.
His new bar, dubbed Left Door and slated to open this fall, isn't technically on 14th Street proper, but it's a stone's throw from the hyper-busy restaurant strip at 1345 S St., taking the place of a tiny Salvadorean/Mexican joint called Las Marias, neighbor to the popular Garden District. "It's more of an adult cocktail bar," Brown says. "We're focusing on the total guest experience, with high-end audio, not just drinks. It's going to be a respite from the craziness of U Street."
This isn't a replacement for the Passenger, as Brown continues to look for a new location for that well-known cocktail bar. In fact, Brown's concept for Left Door sounds almost like the anti-Passenger. "This will be geared more towards the 14th Street crowd than the Passenger was – a more sophisticated crowd looking for something with more refinement to it," he says. "People who don't want to come in and listen to punk all night, though I don't know who those people are."
The menu will be "extensively based in classic cocktails and a smaller number of things we've come up with," Brown says. His dream would be to have a "cocktail catalog" of 50 to 60 drinks, "but I know that could be overwhelming for people. I don't know how to present that yet."
Expect a price point of $10 to $14 for most cocktails, though there may be some high-end options. Also, expect to mostly order cocktails. "We won't have draft beer," Brown says. "It's going to be 100 percent focused on cocktails. I'm definitely going to have an under-the-counter beer-and-a-shot special for industry people, even if it's not on the menu. I don't want to be pretentious, but I don't want people to think of it as a beer-and-a-shot place. If we have a beer, it will be more of a palate cleanser."
There won't be a kitchen, though there will be nuts and other "free bar snacks" available.
Brown came across the building while looking for a replacement venue for the Passenger. "There were some spaces that are good spaces, but wouldn't be a good fit for the Passenger," Brown says. "I thought this would be good for an intimate cocktail bar – the kind of space where you can bring a date and plan a little more, not just show up at the local bar."
When he says "intimate," he's not kidding: There will be only 35 seats in the 1,000 square-foot room. ("In fact, I think I'd rather have people sitting down," Brown says, rather than crammed in like the Passenger.)
If everything goes to plan, Brown says Left Door will open in September or October. But he stresses that this isn't just a side project to tide him over until whenever the Passenger returns. "We're signing a 10-year lease with options [for more]," he says. "We want to make this a fixture."