If you’ve been dreaming of a cozy neighborhood bar where you can pop in for a delicious cocktail and a snack or three, you’re not alone. Pre-pandemic, and certainly now, that’s the kind of place longtime friends and DC hospitality vets Jean Paul (J.P.) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham, and Drew Porterfield envision opening together. And in a few months, they will do just that—with some Covid-era adjustments. Jane Jane, an 860-square-foot nook of a bar on 14th Street, is set to debut this fall with a retro-chic vibe and Southern cocktail hour classics.
Brabham and Porterfield, both North Carolina natives, co-own Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the director of Shaw’s Long View Gallery. You may recognize Sabatier from his years of mixing cocktails at Rappahannock Oyster Bar, though he’s also a CIA-trained chef who cooked at Bibiana. For this venture, Sabatier will straddle back- and front-of-house. Expect ready-eat snacks like pimento cheese, pigs in blankets, or sardines, plus cocktails like boulevardiers and martinis.
“I’m the one that’s constantly made fun of for asking for something ‘obscure’ at a bar, like an Adonis or a martinez—classic cocktails that people should know, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t,” says Sabatier.
The name and inspiration for the venue come from a real-life “Jane Jane,” Brabham’s mother (the nickname is an affectionate family one). The friends once dropped by her Greensboro, North Carolina home virtually unannounced and her greeting has been the talk of the trio since.
“This southern lady just magically pulled out eight trays of nuts, ham sandwiches, pigs in blankets, and cheese straws. That level of hospitality you feel walking into Jane Jane’s house is what we want you to feel in Jane Jane the bar,” says Porterfield.
The name is also a good match with Liz, the new redevelopment of the Whitman-Walker healthcare center that added luxe apartments and retail to the offices of the non-profit, which specializes in LGBTQ healthcare. It’s a significant space for the friends, who all identify as gay. Once open, they plan to offer “room service” cocktails and food to those inside the building, and will also begin cocktail delivery in the neighborhood prior to opening.
Popular design firm Edit Lab at Streetsense is currently working on a look that Brabham describes as “nostalgic, like my family den growing up.” The 30-odd seat venue will also have Covid-era features to make it social distance-friendly. Plans include outdoor seating, partitioned banquettes, and a takeout window for to-go cocktails and food. Jane Jane’s entry comes at a time of turnover on 14th Street, with local spots like Ghibellina and B Too closing in the pandemic.
“When we saw the space, the building didn’t have a local partner yet, and that’s something we believe in—being a voice for local hospitality folk on 14th Street, especially in a part of the city that’s losing its homegrown businesses,” says Porterfield.
Jane Jane. 1705 14th St., NW. Opening Fall 2020.