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The Wharf Is Getting a Live-Music Venue Dedicated to “Americana” Genres

The Pearl Street Warehouse will fit about 300 people.

The Wharf, the massive development being built in Southwest DC, will get a second live-music venue when it opens in October. The Pearl Street Warehouse, located on what’s planned to be the Wharf’s nightlife strip, will be a 300-capacity club dedicated to Americana styles including southern rock, country, blues, roots, and bluegrass.

“That’s what we like to listen to,” says co-owner Bruce Gates. “We love music, and we’ve always wanted to have a music-forward venue where we can accomplish those things.”

Gates says there’s a gap in the District’s music scene that he and his partners, Nicholas Fontana and Henry Gandy, are hoping to fill. “We’ll have a pretty wide range of genres but probably not as much on the metal or EDM or some of these other genres that are well-covered by existing venues in DC,” he says.

Besides music, the venue will offer a full bar and restaurant featuring “diner-style” dishes including meatloaf sandwiches and biscuits and gravy. Gates, Fontana, and Gandy also own nearby Cantina Marina, which they’ve struggled to turn into a reliable venue for live music because of noise complaints and a tight layout.

“I grew up in Austin in the 80’s before 6th Street kind of blew up and I’ve missed that part of the music scene. After coming to DC it was hard to hear live music, somewhere you could walk down the street and pop in a place that didn’t have a cover,” Fontana says. “We’ll have ticketed shows…and on weekends we would envision a [free] cover band or local band playing.”

Fontana and his co-owners have created a playlist that includes tracks by the likes of Iron and Wine and Kaleo to give a hint of the sounds that might emanate from their new club.

Ticketed shows are expected to cost between $10 for smaller, local bands to as much as $100 for national touring acts. In the late afternoon, Pearl Street will close to vehicular traffic and turn into a pedestrian plaza, allowing the bar to extend its audience.

“We want to help great local and regional acts that are looking for a high-quality venue to play a show,” Gates says. “The front of the mezzanine will be about 25 feet from the stage, so if you’re in that mezzanine area you have this cool birds-eye view of the show just below you. [It will have] state-of-the-art sound and light, acoustics; it’ll be a place where artists will want to play.”

The Wharf’s developers previously announced that the built-from-scratch neighborhood will be home to the Anthem, a 6,000-capacity theater operated by 9:30 Club parent company I.M.P. Productions.


Julie Strupp is an editorial fellow. Before Washingtonian, she did francophone video, radio, and photography projects addressing gender-based violence in Togo, West Africa with Peace Corps. She worked at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and AllAfrica and has contributed to Mic, Center for Public Integrity, DCist, and more. Now a proud Petworth-dweller, she’s also a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who loves judo, biking, art, and keeping the powerful accountable.