Brookland’s Finest – Home Grown Restaurant To Establish A Quality Food, Bar And Coffee Spot

There has been a lot of excitement building in the neighborhood about a new restaurant coming to the intersection of 12th and Jackson Streets, NE. We got a tour of the proposed location and spoke with two of the Brooklanders behind the project – Scott Evans, who owns the building, and will build out the space, and Tony Tomelden, a Managing Member.

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Many neighbors know Tony already as the owner of the popular H Street NE watering hole, The Pug. Tony has teamed up with two other owners of successful DC restaurants – John Solomon of Solly’s U Street Tavern and Frank Hankins of Sova, a coffee house. Together, this trifecta of restaurant expertise wants to bring a “neighborhood friendly, casual dining, and community bar atmosphere in Brookland”. I asked how this restaurant will compare to The Pug and Solly’s, which are known for their “dive bar” atmosphere and cheap beer. Tony, who has lived in Brookland for 10 years, just one block from the future restaurant location, and has young children, emphasized that this will be a family friendly restaurant. In deed, one of the first things we noted was that the restaurant will have a real Kid’s Menu complete with Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. (See sample menus in the slide show.) He added that their beer concept will be entirely different from the other locations, centered on craft microbrews at higher price points and – my favorite part – will only have local DC beers on tap. He envisions the clientelle as the Brookland resident who will walk to the restaurant to start the day with a great cup of coffee and wind down the work day over a beer with neighbors.

Tony wanted to clarify that “Brookland’s Finest” is the name of the restaurant’s company, and that the name of the actual restaurant may be something entirely different. He noted that friends are helping research the history of the property to hopefully tie in a historical aspect to the name. Tony spoke at length about how important Brookland’s  history and neighborhood character is to him – his father and grandfather both made Brookland their home. Whatever the name, this place will fill many of the voids we have in the Brookland dining scene. For example, Frank Hankins will be pulling from his Sova experiences to establish a strong coffee program, something we are in dire need of. For now, Tony plans to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner all week long. This is a welcome development for those of us who work in Brookland and have extremely limited breakfast and lunch options, especially Monday through Wednesday.

Scott Evans is a friend of ours, and a stand-up guy. He lives a stone’s throw from the restaurant location and told us he “will work his heart out” to make the restaurant something his fellow Brooklanders will be proud of. The restaurant, once complete, will have about 2,500 square feet of indoor space. There will be 45 -50 dining room seats, including booths along one wall. There will be 16 – 18 indoor bar seats. Then – ready for this? There will be a sweet garage door opening to the patio where diners can belly up to about 6 outdoor bar seats and 25 outdoor dining seats. So what kind of decor can we expect? Lots of natural light from the large windows, skylights, and garage door, and lots of exposed brick. We happen to know that Scott is a fan of cool repurposed elements, so don’t be surprised to see some upcycled design features. For a good example of Scott’s handiwork, check out the work he did for The Pig restaurant on 14th Street NW. So far the only work Scott has done on this shell of a building is to make it stable, safe and secure, and as you can see, a lot of work needs to be done. I know it seems like the building has sat for a long time in disrepair, but we give Scott a lot of credit for waiting for the right tenant to do the build out. Without going into details, for months he has taken the longer, harder road by turning away proposals from businesses that would not improve the neighborhood. We are glad he held out for Brookland’s Finest! We will track the progress of the restaurant and bring you updates as they are available.

Many readers have reached out to us asking how they can support the Brookland’s Finest team and make this restaurant a reality. A member of the community created a Yahoo! Group in the support of the restaurant  – you can join here. Really though, to be profitable, a restaurant like this needs a liquor license. The Brookland’s Finest team has applied to DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) for a “Tavern” license. One of the most important things you can do is contact your ANC Commissioner and let them know you support this restaurant and their liquor license application. Most of Brookland is divided into 5 Single Member Districts (SMDs), each represented by a Commissioner. As a whole, it is called ANC 5B. The ANC 5B Commissioners will vote at an upcoming meeting about whether they recommend the restaurant be allowed to have their liquor license. ABRA will take the ANC 5B vote result into consideration, along with other factors. You may also write to ABRA directly expressing your support. The ANC 5B Commissioners are as follows and the mailing address of ANC 5B is: ANC 5B Office, 1322 Irving Street, NE Washington DC 20017.

(5B-01) Shirley Rivens-Smith –   5b01@anc.dc.gov
(5B-02) Ursula Higgins –   5b02@anc.dc.gov
(5B-03) Tiffany Bridge  –  5b03@anc.dc.goc
(5B-04) Carolyn C. Steptoe –  5b04@anc.dc.gov
(5B-05) Jenese L. Jones –  5b05@anc.dc.gov

Here is a map of ANC 5B so you can figure out who is your ANC Commissioner. ABRA can be contacted at: 2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 400S  Washington, DC 20009. Email: abra@dc.gov Phone: (202) 442-4423.

ANC 5B Boundries 2013
ANC 5B Boundries 2013

37 thoughts on “Brookland’s Finest – Home Grown Restaurant To Establish A Quality Food, Bar And Coffee Spot”

  1. Excellent post! I just wrote my ANC Commissioner in support of the license application by Brookland’s Finest. I’m very excited that we will soon have another dining choice to serve the Brookland community.

  2. Hey Shani, thanks for the update! Quick note: the mailto: link for commissioner Steptoe goes to the 5B05 email address rather than 5b04.

  3. I’m very happy to hear about this family-friendly restaurant coming to the neighborhood!

    However, I don’t think this would be the neighborhood’s first kids’ menu. San Antonio’s has a good kids’ menu, with several options, and they come with veggies and fresh cut up fruit as side dishes. This is far better than most restaurants offer as kids’ menus (where options are often fried foods or pasta, with nary a fruit or veggie in sight). I also like the kids’ options at Little Ricky’s, where the kids can simply have a half-sided portion of anything on the menu. Awesome!

  4. Thank you for posting this, Shani!

    I just wrote Commissioner Steptoe in support of approval of this liquor license. It is clear from the support at the ANC5B meeting and from the comments online that the neighborhood wants/needs/supports/cries out for the approval and thus the establishment coming to fruition. I am pleased that the residents within 200 ft of the proposed establishment are supportive.

    Brooklanders:
    I have pasted a a template for writing to your ANC commissioner and to ABRA to show your support for this liquore license. Please, please, please write the commissioners and show your support for the approval of this liquor license.

    LETTER TO COMMISSIONER BEGIN:

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    [Name of Commissioner, ie Ms. Carolyn C. Steptoe]
    Commissioner, [ANC, ie ANC5-B04]
    ANC 5B Office
    1322 Irving Street, NE
    Washington DC 20017

    Greetings Commissioner,

    I would like to begin by thanking you for your commitment to the Brookland neighborhood and to the District of Columbia in general. I understand your position is not paid, and I thank you for sacrificing your time, energy, and leadership abilities to make our neighborhood great.

    I am writing to you to communicate my support for the approval of the liquor license application for Brookland’s Finest. I have outlined the reasons for my support below. Note that reasons 1, 2, and 3 conform to the subject of the questions regarding community impact on the ABRA application (#18a, 18b, and #18c).

    1. I am confident that this establishment, and specifically the approval of this liquor license, will not hinder or lower the property values of the surrounding properties. Countless studies have shown that urban, walkable amenities cause property values to be more resistant to negative outside economic factors. (Source: Costar Report, Residential Land Values and Walkability Vol. 3, No. 1 – 2011, Josre) Additionally, transforming the property from vacant and dilapidated to occupied and structurally sound will decrease the risk of neighboring properties decreasing in value. Currently, approving Brookland’s Finest liquor license application represents the only viable method of transforming the property.

    2. I am confident that this establishment, and specifically the approval of this liquor license, will be successful in mitigating the risk of excessive noise and litter through proven management strategies, which are already in place at the applicants’ existing establishments. This establishment will have no material adverse effect on the peace, order, or noise on the relevant locality, due to the applicants’ experience and effective methods of mitigating such risks.

    3. I am confident that this establishment, and specifically the approval of this liquor license, will be successful in mitigating the risk of any adverse traffic conditions. The applicants’ have communicated that they are a committed to catering to a local clientele, Brookland residents, who will be able to walk to the establishment. As a result, the establishment will have mitigated any concerns of adverse traffic effects. Furthermore, this commitment decreases the likelihood and mitigates the risk of intoxicated drivers operating vehicles in the neighborhood and in the District of Columbia.

    4. In terms of Ward 5 economic development, it is important to support local businesses. The liquor license applicants are longtime and current Brookland residents. One of the applicants is a 3rd generation Brookland resident. Approving this application for a liquor license will support local business owners and will generate increased sales tax, income tax, and property tax revenue for the District of Columbia, whereas the tax revenue may otherwise flow to competing jurisdictions. Furthermore, having a local establishment means that local residents will need to spend less money on transportation. Local residents currently must travel other parts of the city, and to Virginia and Maryland to have the choice of amenities that Brookland’s Finest will promote. This will save Brookland residents money, and will increase their quality of life.

    5. Approving this liquor license means that the property will transform from a dilapidated and unused property and structure, the state in which it has been in for years, into a tax-generating, attractive, and lively property. This transformation will decrease the risk of children hurting themselves in the vacant lot, and decreases the risk of nefarious and illegal activity occurring on the property.

    I am a resident of [Your ANC, ie ANC5B04] and I live very close to the location of the proposed establishment that has applied for this liquor license. The approval of this license affects me greatly, and I implore you to vote to approve this application.

    [Alternate: Although I am a resident of [Your ANC, ie ANC5E01], I live very close the location of the proposed establishment that has applied for this liquor license. The approval of this license affects me greatly, and I implore you to vote to approve this application.]

    Thank you so much for your time, and your commitment to Brookland. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me; my contact information is below.

    Regards,
    [Your Name, ie John Smith]

    [Your Name]
    [Your Street Address]
    [Your City, State, Zip]
    [Your ANC, ie ANC5B04]
    [Your Phone Number]
    [Your E-mail Address]

    ————————————————————-
    LETTER TO COMMISSIONER END

    LETTER TO ABRA BEGIN:

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA)
    2000 14th Street, NW
    Suite 400S
    Washington, DC 20009

    Greetings,

    I would like to begin by thanking you for your commitment to the Brookland neighborhood and to the District of Columbia in general. Your role is a challenging one and makes an enormous impact on our great city. I thank you for your time, energy, and leadership abilities to make our city great.

    I am writing to you to communicate my support for the approval of the liquor license application for Brookland’s Finest. I have outlined the reasons for my support below. Note that reasons 1, 2, and 3 conform to the subject of the questions regarding community impact on the ABRA application (#18a, 18b, and #18c).

    1. I am confident that this establishment, and specifically the approval of this liquor license, will not hinder or lower the property values of the surrounding properties. Countless studies have shown that urban, walkable amenities cause property values to be more resistant to negative outside economic factors. (Source: Costar Report, Residential Land Values and Walkability Vol. 3, No. 1 – 2011, Josre) Additionally, transforming the property from vacant and dilapidated to occupied and structurally sound will decrease the risk of neighboring properties decreasing in value. Currently, approving Brookland’s Finest liquor license application represents the only viable method of transforming the property.

    2. I am confident that this establishment, and specifically the approval of this liquor license, will be successful in mitigating the risk of excessive noise and litter through proven management strategies, which are already in place at the applicants’ existing establishments. This establishment will have no material adverse effect on the peace, order, or noise on the relevant locality, due to the applicants’ experience and effective methods of mitigating such risks.

    3. I am confident that this establishment, and specifically the approval of this liquor license, will be successful in mitigating the risk of any adverse traffic conditions. The applicants’ have communicated that they are a committed to catering to a local clientele, Brookland residents, who will be able to walk to the establishment. As a result, the establishment will have mitigated any concerns of adverse traffic effects. Furthermore, this commitment decreases the likelihood and mitigates the risk of intoxicated drivers operating vehicles in the neighborhood and in the District of Columbia.

    4. In terms of Ward 5 economic development, it is important to support local businesses. The liquor license applicants are longtime and current Brookland residents. One of the applicants is a 3rd generation Brookland resident. Approving this application for a liquor license will support local business owners and will generate increased sales tax, income tax, and property tax revenue for the District of Columbia, whereas the tax revenue may otherwise flow to competing jurisdictions. Furthermore, having a local establishment means that local residents will need to spend less money on transportation. Local residents currently must travel other parts of the city, and to Virginia and Maryland to have the choice of amenities that Brookland’s Finest will promote. This will save Brookland residents money, and will increase their quality of life.

    5. Approving this liquor license means that the property will transform from a dilapidated and unused property and structure, the state in which it has been in for years, into a tax-generating, attractive, and lively property. This transformation will decrease the risk of children hurting themselves in the vacant lot, and decreases the risk of nefarious and illegal activity occurring on the property.

    I am a resident of [TYPE YOUR ANC HERE, ie ANC5E01] and I live very close to the location of the proposed establishment that has applied for this liquor license. The approval of this license affects me greatly, and I implore you to vote to approve this application.

    [Alternate: Although I am a resident of [TYPE YOUR ANC HERE, ie ANC5E01], I live very close the location of the proposed establishment that has applied for this liquor license. The approval of this license affects me greatly, and I implore you to vote to approve this application.]

    Thank you so much for your time, and your commitment to Brookland. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me; my contact information is below.

    Regards,
    [Your Name, ie John Smith]

    [Your Name]
    [Your Street Address]
    [Your City, State, Zip]
    [Your ANC, ie ANC5B04]
    [Your Phone Number]
    [Your E-mail Address]

    1. A agree. I don’t see any vegetarian entrees on the menu. That means a lot of us Brooklanders wouldn’t be able to eat a real dinner there.

      1. Another vote for more vegetarian entrees. And not just grilled onions and peppers on rice with cheese on top, or the like.

          1. Hi Guys,
            Just want to point out that these are sample menus only, so that everyone can get an idea of where the restaurant is headed. As of Saturday’s meeting, the chef hadn’t come on board yet. I’m sure the management, being seasoned (ha ha) restaurant professionals, will alter the menu based on what the Brookland neighbors want and what sells well.
            Thanks for all the feedback,
            Shani

  5. Great Article, but from experience the ANC leaders do not check, have forwarded, or respond to the posted Email addresses. Please encourage everyone to send a copies of their letters of support to a designated community leader. These letters can then be presented at the full 5B meeting, otherwise their voice will be left unheard.

    Just a suggestion.

    1. I wrote to Tiffany Bridge expressing my support Saturday. I’m not in her district but my ANC leader has already made up her mind about this one, it seems. I wrote to Tiffany at her ANC address in hopes that my note would be seen by the entire ANC.

      Tiffany wrote me back sometime that evening, so I can attest that she reads and promptly responds to email sent to her ANC address!

  6. Yeah, I wrote originally to Ms. Steptoe, and she responded immediately, almost, asking where I lived. When I told her I live down by Burroughs, she thanked me and told me she only was listening to people near the restaurant, but that she’d retain my comment.

  7. Nick,

    You could live right *next door* to the proposed establishment, and if you support it, she wouldn’t listen to you anyway. Sometimes I think she is more interested in the fight than listening to what the majority of her constituents have to say.

  8. An outsider (from Bloomingdale) here — walking into the middle of this discussion. What is the controversy around Brookland’s Finest? Is it strictly about the pursued liquor license? Or is there more to it?

    1. We don’t know the controversy because a public airing of any potential controversy, or expression of support, was cut short by Commissioner Steptoe. The concerns I’ve heard from a few people, some who live on the block of the proposed restaurant, is what you would expect: what about parking, trash, noise? A rational discussion about those issues, however, has not been held.

      The only controversy now is that many people who attended the Single Member District Meeting last Saturday are appalled at Commissioner Steptoe’s behavior. Less controversy and more of unnecessary drama.

  9. With the success of little Ricky’s and Menomale it is clear that we want this.
    I have lost of choice for liquor, hair, and Chinese food I just want a place to sit down and eat

  10. I’m so excited for this place and can’t wait for it to come to fruition. by any chance will us sports fans be able to catch our local DC teams on a TV in the new establishment?

  11. If you support this project please contact your ANC representative, CC the other four commissioners on 5B, CC mister Gottlieb, and CC ABRA.

    When the time comes, the liquor license application will be voted on by the whole of 5B, so everyone in 5B does “matter” when it comes to the vote. So if you live at 16th and Kearney, Commissioner Steptoe may not care what you have to say–you’re not her constituent, so really why should she–but I imagine Commissioner Bridge will.

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