Neighborhood Restaurant Group Will Open a Food Hall In Southeast DC

Rendering of 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE from CAS Riegler.

It looks like food hall boom times are upon us. Philadelphia-based restaurateur Jose Garces is bringing a Latin-themed emporium to the Union Market area. Mike Isabella is assembling 10 different concepts for Isabella Eatery in Tysons Galleria. And the owner of Captain Cookie and the Milkman is building a food incubator with vendor kiosks in Brookland.

The latest announcement comes from the Neighborhood Restaurant Group—the folks behind Birch & Barley, Red Apron, Iron Gate, and a bunch of other spots—which will open a “multi-unit dining concept” on the ground floor of a new residential building at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., SE in 2019 or 2020. NRG owner Michael Babin isn’t calling it a “food hall,” per se, but rather a “different kind of restaurant and bar.”

“For a lot of people that hear ‘food hall,’ they immediately think Union Market,” Babin says. This place won’t be nearly as big, and it won’t have a market component, so he doesn’t want people to come in with the same expectations.

The 12,500-square-foot space, in partnership with CAS Riegler Companies and May Development, will likely include around five places to eat plus a bar. Expect some of NRG’s own concepts as well as eateries from other chefs and restaurateurs.

Barred in DC first reported on the development back in June, citing tentative plans for a coffee/sweets shop, beer hall, cocktail/wine bar, sit-down restaurant, and food stalls possibly including tacos, pizza, burgers, and Asian fusion.

But Babin says no decisions have been made about what kind of eateries will be included. He hopes to get feedback from neighbors about what they want to see. Still, it’s safe to say there will be coffee. And an indoor/outdoor beer bar, headed by beer director Greg Engert, which will anchor the space. The hall will be laid out in an L-shape with tables and communal seating throughout.

“It gives us a chance to vary the feel of the space a bit as you walk through it, so it’s not going to be one uniform palette,” Babin says. At least some parts of the space will be open from morning to night.

While the food hall (or whatever you want to call it) will be on a larger scale than other NRG projects, Babin points out that the group is no stranger to putting multiple concepts under one roof. (Think Birch & Barley and ChurchKey or The Partisan and Red Apron Butcher.)

“It’s a comfort zone for us,” he says, “something we’re drawn to naturally.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.