Cork Wine Bar will close in mid to late October when its ten year lease comes to an end. But no need to say goodbye to its famous avocado toast for good: The restaurant will relocate across the street to Cork Market & Tasting Room, which will be revamped to include dining and drinking on both floors. Bonus: rosé wine made on-site.
Owners Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts say Cork Market will close for around ten days in October for the renovation, and reopen as Cork Wine Bar & Market at the end of the month.
The wine bar will be replicated in the upstairs space of 1805 14th St., Northwest, which was previously used for private events and tastings. They’ll maintain roughly the same 60 seats, the same modern-rustic look, same old-world wine list, and same seasonal small plates menu from chef Jason Schreuder. One new feature will be a 30-seat private dining room with a wine cellar wall, which will allow them to continue hosting tastings and winemaker dinners.
Bigger changes are in the works for downstairs. While you’ll still find a large number of retail wines and a cheese counter, the rest of the market will shrink to make room for a casual 30-seat cafe and 15-seat bar open for lunch and dinner. (You can still buy crackers, honey, pastas, olive oils, and vinegars—but now only one or two of the owners’ favorites.)
Market chef Ian Morrison‘s new menu will feature flatbreads, salads, lemon-garlic hummus, Tuscan white bean dip with vegetables, pork belly banh mi, and other sandwiches. More substantial plates on the all-day menu will include fried chicken, a burger, and pesto pasta. An in-house cheesemonger will curate cheese and charcuterie plates.
Yes, there will still be avocado toast. (It’s been on the menu for so long, before avo-toast was a thing, they still call it avocado bruschetta.) It’s the one item available upstairs, downstairs, and on a brand-new 30-seat patio out back. The outdoor space, previously used for parking, will be covered in greenery by Salt & Sundry and Little Leaf owner Amanda McClements.
Around ten to 15 wines will be available by the glass downstairs instead of the 35 on the menu upstairs, but the cafe selection will change more frequently. Try a flight on either floor. The wine bar will also introduce a “Flight Club” where members get discounts on wines featured in their flights.
Cork has also applied for a wine pub permit, which will allow it to make wine on-site. The relatively small operation—just two 100-liter tanks—will use Virginia-grown grapes for a house rosé that will be available on draft in 2018.
“Diane and I grew together as a couple learning and drinking wine,” Pitts says. “Making wine is sort of a continuation of that growth of us exploring our love of wine and sharing that love with other people.”
Gross and Pitts say rising rents are part of the reason for moving the restaurant to their market—a building they own. The couple is currently suing President Donald Trump, claiming that his continued affiliation with the Trump International Hotel in DC puts competing businesses like theirs at a disadvantage. Their decision to move is unrelated to the lawsuit, they say.
Putting everything under one roof will have advantages beyond not paying a second rent. For one, it will be easier to share wines between retail and dining, especially bottles with limited allocations.
“It will also lead to a lot less confusion,” Gross says. “We can’t tell you how many people call the market to make reservations at the restaurant.”