Balkan Cuisine Coming to Barracks Row – Jordan’s 8 To Become Ambar
by Larry Janezich
Ivan Iricanin, one of acclaimed chef and international restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s partners in two 14th Street restaurants – El Centro and Masa 14 – expects to open Ambar on Barracks Row this fall – perhaps by November. The restaurant will serve Balkan cuisine, focusing on dishes from the owner’s native Serbia. The name “Ambar” refers to the bin where corn is stored after harvest in Serbia, and according to Iricanin, is part of every Serbian household. Iricanin has leased the 3,000 foot space at 523 8th Street, formerly occupied by Jordan’s 8. The restaurant will initially serve dinner and brunch, but eventually the owner hopes to serve all three meals.
Iricanin appeared before ANC6B Commissioner Carol Green’s ABC Committee last Thursday to seek the Committee’s endorsement for a liquor and entertainment license for the new restaurant. It was the latter that caused the most concern among commissioners and nearby residents. The applicant offered assurances that the entertainment would be limited to creating a “vibe” to enhance the dining experience and not for dancing. He envisions strolling musicians and occasionally, a DJ.
The ANC voted 8-0 to take no position in referring the matter to the full ANC6B meeting for consideration on Tuesday, September 11. Iricanin agreed to work with ABC Committee Chair Green on a voluntary agreement limiting potential problems foreseen by commissioners and nearby neighbors before the Tuesday meeting. Although the DC Alcohol Beverage Review Board will have the last word, it is charged with giving “great weight” to the recommendation of the ANCs in issuing liquor licenses.