Prospective Barracks Row Pizza Venue Offers More Details


Prospective Barracks Row Pizza Venue Offers More Details

Menu to Offer Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Vegan Options

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday, Steve Salis, founder and CEO of what may be a chain of pizza restaurants, revealed some additional details regarding his prospective Barracks Row pizza operation. 

Salis is seeking an exception to the ban on additional fast food restaurants on Barracks Row, and has launched a campaign to help create public support for the exception.  To that end, he has addressed an open letter to the community (see below), released a rendering of what the outlet might look like (as above), and structured a menu to provide options for customers with dietary restrictions: i.e., gluten free crust for gluten intolerants, vegan options with regards to sauce and toppings, and lactose options regarding a dairy free cheese substitute.

Some of those who he will have to win over are the nearby neighbors of Hill Center, who are still smarting from Hill Center’s refusal to make concessions affecting their quality of life issues.  And, although ANC6B granted Chipotle Mexican Grill an exception, that action was viewed as trading one previous fast food restaurant (China Wall) for a new one.   Salis faces the tougher task of convincing the ANC to make a true exception, granting a new license for an location adjoining Chiptole which is technically in the same building. 

Salis won’t reveal the name of the new establishment since it is undergoing the trademarking process.  He said he would like to serve beer and wine but understands the sensitivities in the neighborhood, “so there are some things what would have to be worked out.”  If everything goes according to plan, the restaurant could open in spring of 2012. 

Salis said, “I think Barracks Row is a street with a lot of soul. It has great energy, it’s vibrant, and is taking seriously by the community. The 400 block in particular, lends my business a unique opportunity to take part in revitalizing an area that needs to be upgraded with concepts … that bring quality, sophistication, and innovation….”

His letter to the community follows: 

Dear Capitol Hill Community,                                                            October 11, 2011

I am writing today in response to all of the much-appreciated feedback that I have received with regards to my intentions of opening a dining establishment at 415 8th Street SE. Your comments will continue to play a critical role in my pursuits of joining your neighborhood.

My vision for this concept involves a fresh dining experience at a very affordable cost. Patrons will be presented with the ability to create a customized gourmet pizza using a variety of carefully sourced, fresh ingredients including gluten free, lactose free, and vegan options for those with dietary restrictions. This is not a pizza slice shop, therefore delivery service will not be offered. We are simply looking to provide a top quality product, while focusing on time efficiency and affordability, where the average family of four can enjoy a healthy meal for approximately $30. In addition, I have taken into account socially responsible environmental practices with regards to packaging, store build-out and design.

Aesthetically, the restaurant will embody a clean, simple and inviting feel deriving inspiration from the fresh produce that we offer. With 35-40 seats in our dining area, Capitol Hill families and professionals will be able to enjoy their personalized product on location.

Capitol Hill & Barracks Row exudes a vibrancy and sense of community that has piqued my interest in launching the business in this neighborhood. I have had discussions with other restaurant operators currently on the block regarding neighborhood sensitivities, and have already put forth action in addressing operational concerns, such as: pest control and trash management. I look forward to presenting my plans for handling these issues to your community in the near future.

Attached is a rendering of the store; please contact me at with any questions and/or concerns. I look forward to opening my doors to you this coming spring.

With great respect,

Steve Salis

Founder & CEO

Ima Pizza LLC


Filed under Uncategorized

37 responses to “Prospective Barracks Row Pizza Venue Offers More Details

  1. Mike

    Who did Salis send the letter out to? I don’t know anyone who got one.

  2. Sounds like a nice place and like it would be an excellent addition to the neighborhood. I hope it’s not the victim of the unintended consequences of misguided regulation.

    • Jonathan

      Alex, great point, and I concur with your thoughts. I think it would not bode well for a 1100 unit taco “chain” to garner an exception, but to not allow a local entrepreneur who wants to open next door the opportunity to do so. I understand we want to prevent legitimate fast food operations like say a Taco Bell from going on the block, which is why the exception exists. However, this is the “pear” to the “apple”. By no means, from the looks of the rendering above and from the sounds of the operation should this fall into the bracket of a Taco Bell. Fast food companies do not offer fresh ingredients or offerings for those with restrictions. Mr Salis does.

      • Steve Salis

        Your support is much appreciated Alex & Jonathan. We are, and will continue to take the proper steps to ensure we work through the hurdles and streamline this process in hopes of getting the store open in Spring … your voices play a vital role in us achieving our goals. Thanks again.

  3. Marry

    Love the idea of a healthy choice for not just those who require it due to dietary restrictions, but also to those in our community who woudl like the alternative. The 400 block has been less then attractive in the past, and thsi appears to be a substantial upgrade. I appreciate that Mr. Salis is engaging with us and including us in the process. More then we can say for just about everyone else on Barraks Row. I attended an ANC meeting when Chipotle was seeking approval, and if Mr. Salis is willing to listenand react to the similiar suggestions made to Chipotle, then I think he deserves the ANC approval and I will look forwrad to dining in his establishment.

  4. Kathleen

    He had me at gluten-free.

  5. Di

    I will gladly support this establishment in anyway that I can.

  6. @ Mike

    In the words of Mr. Salis to me: “I will be sending this out to other frequented Capitol Hill informational sites in addition to you.”

  7. anon

    I doubt that I’d eat here unless you manage to turn out a better product than the extraordinary nearby 7th Hill, but I would advise you to borrow at least practice from 7th Hill (or Pete’s Apizi for that matter) which you can readily mimic –use DISHWARE, FLATWARE and GLASSES (paper napkins ok). I don’t care whether you serve beer/wine, which are appropriate offerings. The tacky factor comes from the mounds of disposable crap accumulating in your trash recepticles and our streets.

    Good luck

  8. PG

    I will be thrilled to have this new place in the neighborhood, and strongly, strongly support it, if it offers gluten and dairy free options!
    Steve, will customers be able to order a gluten-free crust with dairy-free toppings? This for my son who is struggling with the gluten-free/casein free diet he is required to be on. I hope you’re open for business quickly with a minimum of delays!

    • Steve Salis

      Hey PG, I appreciate your enthusiasm! Yes, we will have a gluten-free crust and dairy substitutes. I look forward to catering you soon.

  9. Tom

    “What may be a chain of pizza restaurants” is a surprisingly vague description for someone described as an experienced businessman. Putting that aside, It seems odd that what were two spaces have now been opened up and are being renovated at the same time for what could be two chain shops. As someone who lives nearby I would hope the ANC would clarify the chain question-either it is or isn’t, as well as the relationship with Chipotle. One exception for Chipotle now seems leading to a second.Did Chipotle release the idea of sharing their space with another chain when they were given an exception?
    And while I’m not speaking for the place next door it seems odd to make an exception for one pizza place, regardless of how it is characterized, right next door to an existing one.

    • Tom, as I understand it they have no relation to Chipotle. The two spaces that were formerly China Wall and the Dollar store are being gutted and in some way remodeled by the building owner (Street Sense), and I assume once that work is done Chipotle will take over the space that was formerly Dollar Store and start to build out its store.

      That will be separate, is licensed separately and has a different street address than the space that was China Wall.

      During the approval process for the exception to the fast food restriction that Chipotle had to get, the building owner (still Street Sense) arranged for the existing exception that China Wall had to expire. That was part of what the ANC asked for. Had they not done that, then Street Sense could have immediately leased out to another fast food place without any review by the ANC.

      I am sure this will be an interesting discussion but hope this adds some clarity to the situation with those two properties.

      I will note that at more than 12 comments on a new pizza place this is obviously a hotter topic that Easter Market legislation, the recent ANC action on Hine, or many of the other excellent news items posted here.

      File under #hottopicsonthehill-pizza

      • thomas790

        Thanks Ivan for the uinfo. It just seems a shame that an exception would be made that would put someone right up against an existing pizza place. As a homeowner who lives just two blocks off of 8th Street I felt the policy was well founded and thought exceptions would only be made under extraordinary circumstances. Heck, I walk on tht block every day and I think most would agree improvements could be made. I just feel for the guy that owns the existing business who has made a go of it before 8th became so desirable to out of towners. I think I’ve said more than my fair share on this topic so the process will just have to work things out.

      • anon

        AMEN on the strange obsession with feeding collective pie holes of Hill residents. It’s beyond tired.

    • Steve Salis

      Hey Tom, Thanks for your post. I want to be forthcoming in that I am not a chain. I am a small business owner, and have no affiliation with Chipotle on any level. It’s to my understanding that the landlord is in the process of re-constructing both 413-415 retail spaces which required them to demolish the demising wall in order to bring both locations to suit. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me:

  10. Mary Weirich

    The description of the healthy options for families offered by Mr. Salis’s restaurant is appealing. However, the design of the restaurant featured in the photo above is NOT in keeping with the historical charm typical of Barracks Row’s new look .

    • Steve Salis

      Hey Mary, thanks for the post. The image above is a generalized rendering for the concept, and is not specific to the retail space @ 415 8th St. SE. Renderings for that will be coming soon. If you have any additional questions feel free to contact me: Thank you.

  11. Sonny

    I was lucky to have been able to be at a tasting for this concept pizza and I love every bite of it. The have merged taste, health, convenience, quality, variety, and charm all in one pizza place. Quickly calming any doubts I had. I am italian and like to consider my self a pizza pro, living in new york my whole life. I can honestly say this pizza is placed on the list of the best in the city, and all with without costing $40 dollars a pie, or waiting 45 minutes for a table!! Cheers – Sonny

  12. Elizabeth

    As another fellow taste-tester, I can attest 7th Hill has nada on Mr. Salis’ pizza – it is, in a word, amazeballs! How had this concept not been thought of before, I ask you? Now we just need one in NYC – Subway, eat your heart out! ~Elizabeth

  13. ANC member Frishberg, I appreciate you providing some clarification to Tom. It seems to me that we are fortunate to even have the opportunity to engage with any potential user given the existing exemption. I was thrilled to learn that Chipotle was approved by the ANC6B, and based on what I have read and seen to date…I hope Mr. Salis is granted the same appoval. I like his openness and willingness to communicate with all of us. Not to mention gluten free rates a 10 in my book. How soon can you be open!!

  14. Claire

    I think this would be a wonderful addition to the area. The 400 block needs innovation, compared to whats there now. The other pizza options in the “area” are not as close as one might think. I, for one, (and am not the only one) do not cross Penn Ave to make my way over to 7th Hill pizza, “We The Pizza” is practically in a different neighborhood considering how far away it is from the Barracks Row area. Matchbox would be the closet “competitor” (if you would even call it that) and they seem to be drastically different. If you want to spend $24 for a crappy over priced pizza. People do not go to Matchbox for their pizza, they go for the bar scene and the broad menu options.,and then you have Boli’s, nuff said. On a side note, have we ever had an owner/operator go through the hassle of opening a business on this block like Mr. Salis has? Aren’t we relying on entrepreneurs to create job opportunities?

  15. Steve Salis

    Thanks for your support Claire.

  16. Jeff Callis

    Mr. Salis, As an owner of a home on 9th street, I am thrilled that you are considering opening your restaurant on Barracks Row. Love the concept…and hope to see you up and running soon!

  17. Chris

    I am a homeowner on 9th Street, and I think this establishment would be an excellent addition to Barracks Row. I am excited that you are working to add to the selection of dining options on the Row, and I love your concept of locally sourced and fresh ingredients. I hope that our ANC 6B Commissioner decides to support you in this application. I am agreement with some others that I do not want lots of Burger King-type restaurants on the Row, but I do not consider an independent pizza shop with locally sourced and healthy ingredients to be in the same category as Burger King.

  18. thomas790

    This is starting to take on the air of an organized lobbying campaign. “What SMD are you located in?”

  19. Steve Salis

    Hey Tom, I asked as 9th St. SE consist of many blocks. Sorry if this has caused any confusion.

  20. I have had the opportunity to meet with Steve and his team, and have also been able to try the pizza out of their New York test kitchen (it was phenomenal). Steve represents the utmost professionalism, and his thorough approach to the restaurant business is something that you do not see often. I work as a restaurant analyst on Wall Street, and my father was the founder of The Capital Grille, so we have gotten to meet and be around many restaurateurs, and I truly believe that you will not be disappointed by what Steve has created! I can’t wait to get down there and try it myself!

  21. Kathleen

    I agree with Thomas. Maybe we can ease up on the faux comments? The harder you lobby, the more I think your pizza isn’t that great.

  22. For what it’s worth, I think it’s helpful for people to add what SMD they are in to their comments for ALL articles. I know for a fact (as Commissioner Frishberg’s comments on this very article prove) that several ANC Commissioners read this (and other) blogs to find out what constituents think about various issues (redistricting, Hine School, special exemptions, ABRA licenses, etc)…

    I’d encourage everyone to add their SMD to their comments on all articles, to help their elected Commissioners understand where the residents they represent stand on any number of issues. All of your Commissioners email addresses and phone numbers are available at – I would encourage you to let your voice be heard by emailing comments here directly to them – these comments help shape the decisions that shape your neighborhood! Also, please CC me at for anything related to Barracks Row – ALL community input is shared directly with the Board of Directors (or other relevant community organizations or ANC Commisioners, for issues outside of 8th Street, SE) – good or bad. We want to hear from you!

    Martin Smith
    Executive Director
    Barracks Row Main Street