Inspiration for a restaurant can come from anywhere (case in point: the new chicken joint inspired by J. Edgar Hoover’s rumored lover). But for Timber Pizza and Call Your Mother owners Andrew Dana and chef Daniela Moreira, it all comes down to appetite.
“We build stuff we’re really craving,” says Dana, who along with fiancee Moreira is behind a growing fast-casual business that includes forthcoming Call Your Mother bagel shops in Georgetown and Capitol Hill as well as a Reagan National airport Timber Pizza. Their first full-service restaurant, Mercy Me, is slated to open in April.
“We liked that it flexed a different muscle,” says Dana of the forthcoming West End eatery. “Everything we do is so casual and so carb-centric. It’s like when André 3000 started singing instead of rapping.”
So what is the team craving for their “sorta South American” venture? Breakfast tacos, fruity frozen cocktails, meatless options, and grilled pizzas, among other things. You’ll find all of that and much more courtesy of the newly vegan couple, who’ve teamed up with husband-and-wife hospitality vets for the project: barman Micah Wilder and former Doi Moi chef Johanna Hellrigl. Here’s what we’re excited about.
An all-day cafe for breakfast tacos and bagel sandwiches
Like “Neapolitan-ish” pizza place Timber and “Jew-ish” deli Call Your Mother, this “sorta South American” spot isn’t strictly defined. The team traveled to Austin, Los Angeles, and Moreira’s native Argentina for inspiration, and they plan to pull elements from all (and beyond). While dinner will draw more heavily from South America, Dana says the all-day cafe will serve an eclectic mix of “healthy stuff” (i.e. smoothies, bowls) and “super craveable stuff” like Austin-style breakfast tacos with homemade tortillas, medialunas (croissant-like Argentine pastries), and new Call Your Mother sandwiches like a bacon, egg, and cheese on a wood-fired everything bagel.
Wood-grilled meats (and pizzas) at night
Evening will bring full-service dining and drinking. Chefs Moreira and Hellrigl are working together to create fiery Latin flavors, including local meats grilled on Argentine rock salt or Caribbean-inspired barbecued fish ribs. Timber Pizza fans will find a South American variation here: thick, crunchy, wood-grilled pies with toppings like homemade chorizo, peaches, and habanero honey.
Micah Wilder, who’s half of the Wilder brother talent behind Chaplin’s and Zeppelin, will design the beverage program. Which is good, because Dana says he and Moreira “don’t drink that much or like cocktails that much.” The one exception: Wilder’s concoctions, including a Fernet and Coke slushy that Dana says tastes like “the sexiest version of a 7-11 Slurpee you can imagine,” and also “a fresh coconut-pineapple thing you can slam a hundred of.” Drinks will also incorporate fresh fruit shrubs and South American spirits.
A pretty garden-esque space and patio
Mercy Me is going into the new Yours Truly DC hotel, whose building was originally a hospital. The team brought on local businesswoman Holley Simmons of the Lemon Collective workshop and flower boutique, She Loves Me, to liven up the decor. Simmons is bringing live greenery and funky salvaged pieces into the space, and she will also help with the look of a lush outdoor patio.
“Is Bohemian-chic too played out?” Dana asks when describing the vibe (yes). “Okay, it’s like warm and funky without behind haggard. We keep our spaces feeling different.”
Mercy Me. 1143 New Hampshire Ave., NW.