Back in July, I had a long conversation with restaurateur Aaron Gordon*, the owner of Logan Circle’s Red Light and Chevy Chase’s Little Beast. It was not a hopeful one. Citing the history of vaccines and their long timetables, Gordon felt that “the idea of indoor restaurants is going to be dead for a long time.” At that point, he was thinking four or five years. For that very reason, he’d open Ghostline, a takeout/delivery-only mini “ghost food hall” in Glover Park. A handful of chefs would do their own thing under one roof, and you could order one’s ramen and another’s Detroit pizza at the same time, on the same bill.
The venture, called Ghostline, debuted in August, in the former Town Hall space. But there were challenges. Gordon could not create an in-house delivery program that was able to compete with UberEats and Grubhub. Customers had a hard time understanding that the food was coming from four separate concepts with their own chefs, not an off-premises commissary kitchen or a single chef cooking a bunch of wildly different things—in Gordon’s words, something “not that special.”
So, he’s decided to change things up, drastically. Ghostline will now be known as Social Beast. Although the general idea—that different concepts will each serve their own food—will stay, diners will now be invited inside, and on the back patio and outdoor bar. Later this summer, he hopes to open a whiskey bar upstairs, and he’s launching a brunch, eventually with live music.
The food will include Little Beast’s breakfast sandwiches and pastries, Red Light’s thick pizzas, Ramen by Uzu’s noodle soups [Update: Ramen by Uzu will leave Social Beast at the end of May], and a new Tex-Mex spot from longtime pastry chef (and San Antonio native) Naomi Gallego. A cocktail menu will serve drinks like strawberry daiquiris and pisco punch.
“I really felt like it was gonna be armageddon for everybody,” Gordon says.” I’ve never been happier to be wrong.”
Social Beast, 2340 Wisconsin Ave., will open May 5. Brunch service will begin May 7.
*Aaron Gordon is food editor Anna Spiegel’s brother-in-law. She is not involved in coverage of his restaurants.