After midnight last Thursday, a series 5000 Metro train—cut in half and mounted on two trailers—was hauled by pickup trucks from a lot outside Baltimore to a new home near the Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood station. In the coming weeks, the permanently parked car will be retrofitted with a bar and dining tables as the showpiece of Metrobar, a new eating and drinking venue with massive outdoor patio.
“We couldn’t even use the traditional train car moving companies that exist. A 75-foot train car is just too long to come through the city,” explains co-owner Jesse Rauch. The former third-grade teacher who started the District Karaoke league is joined by DC Bocce League co-founder John Groth and construction vet Matt Weaver in the venture.
Aside from having to halve the car then reassemble it, the team also removed tens of thousands of pounds of mechanical equipment so that it would sit flat on the trailers. Devoid of “all the things that make Metro car safe to ride on a rail”—plus those disgusting carpets—the train still weighed 30,000 to 40,000 pounds.
The team is installing their own electrical and HVAC systems, and will add a deck around the car with a drink rail so people can watch the actual Metro pass by the nearby station. Old seats will be reconfigured and reupholstered, and windows will open to serve drinks to the patio.
“It will be a nice, elevated design. I think people will really be surprised at the level of finish that we’re going to be adding to it,” Rauch says.
Although you won’t be able to sit inside the Metro car for another six to eight weeks, the 11,000-square-foot outdoor space is already open with plenty of picnic tables, cabanas, and a separate shipping container bar. (Fair warning, though, the full bathrooms won’t be ready for another couple weeks. For now, there are only porta-potties.)
The drink menu features mostly local beers, ciders, and DC Brau hard seltzers, plus a handful of wines. Cocktails come with transportation-themed names, like the Green Line Gimlet and the Red Line Rickey. Rotating food trucks, which you can track on Instagram, supply snacks. The family-friendly venue has also hosted movie nights and a tasting event featuring Black distillers for Juneteenth. Going forward, the team is looking to add art, games like bocce, plus some greenery and grass.
“We’re looking at a lot of ways to make the space really inviting, and not just an open lot,” Rauch says. Much like Metro, “our goal is to be as welcoming and inclusive of as many people as possible.”
Metrobar. 640 Rhode Island Ave., NE.
Video courtesy Colby Gottert.