The restaurant located at 3301 12th Street NE (at the corner of Kearney St) has gone through many incarnations over the years. When we moved here 6 years ago, it was a take-out barbecue joint called “Bobby’s Q”. Before that, it changed hands and names several times, including “Nate’s Comfort Zone.” From what we have gathered from talking to long-time Brookland residents, each establishment had varying degrees of positive relationships with the neighborhood. About 5 years ago, long-time Brookland resident Jesse Brown took it over and created a bar/lounge called ‘Optimism‘. Brown quickly made a slew of improvements like installing windows, removing metal grates, painting the exterior and overhauling the interior into a restaurant/lounge. Over the years the service improved and they began serving Sunday Brunch and hosted the Ward 5 Happy Hour among many other events like birthday parties. While many of us appreciated the vast improvements Brown made to the establishment, there were persistent complaints of loud music and patrons being less than respectful of the surrounding residential neighborhood. Still, we liked it as a friendly place to watch the game and eat some wings.
Then, in February 2014 we started hearing a lot of rumors about a change in management and new restaurant concepts that were supposed to be on the way. Soon thereafter Optimism abruptly closed their doors and renovations started, for example, a wall was torn down to create a new area that could be used as a “VIP” area or a new entrance off of 12th Street. However, the renovations were quickly halted when the city posted a “stop work” order on the restaurant for lack of construction permits. They soon reopened again and we paid a visit to see what was going on. There was a new management team, the couches had been removed and new white tables linens gave the place more of a restaurant feel and less of a bar/lounge feel. The menu was overhauled as well, to a “small plates” concept that was decidedly more expensive than before. We talked at length with the new GM, who had a lot of ideas for changes he wanted to make.
In the following months we noticed a sharp decline in patronage. Many nights the restaurant area would be empty with just a few people sitting around the bar. Then about a month ago, the restaurant went dark and signs that said “Under New Management. Taste ‘N See” showed up, which have recently been replaced with signs that say, simply “Closed”. Looking through the windows reveals that all the tables, chairs and liquor are gone, with only a few stools remaining by the bar. We have spoken to business owners in Brookland who say that there is quite a bit of interest in the location because it has a current liquor licence. We will keep our eyes on any activity and report back.