New Barracks Row Restaurant Coming from Michael Babin’s Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Latest Venture from Multi-Concept Restaurant Chain
by Larry Janezich
Michal Babin’s Neighborhood Restaurant Group, which owns sixteen concept restaurants/food outlets in the area (see list below) has applied for a restaurant liquor license for the space at 415 8th Street, Barracks Row, a StreetSense property formerly occupied by Kraze Burger.
Sources tell CHC that Babin’s new place will be akin to the Group’s B Side restaurant in Merrifield, Virginia, a bar/restaurant featuring a meat heavy menu – pig wings, pork rinds, steaks, burgers, fried chicken, and charcuterie. See the B Side menu here: http://bsidecuts.com/ This will be the second meat-oriented restaurant on Barracks Row, with Medium Rare, a price-fixe steak bistro operating in the next block.
The Neighborhood Restaurant Group opened The Evening Star in Del Ray, Alexandria some 17 years ago. Since then, the group has grown to include sixteen bars, restaurants, a bakery and coffee lounge, a retail wine shop and a catering service.
After Kraze Burgers went belly up in 2013 resulting from internal management disputes, ANC6B Commissioners met with building owner/developer StreetSense regarding the future of the building. Commissioners carried the message that casual fast food had not worked out for the block, characterized by some as “in trouble,” and urged the owner to look to uses of the building other than a restaurant. See here: http://bit.ly/1nTbCyF
Since then, however, the ANC and nearby residents agreed to a new casual fast food restaurant – &Pizza – coming to the block, but only after months of negotiating a landmark gold-standard operating agreement requiring odor and grease mitigation, indoor trash storage, and noise mitigation. The agreement on the operation agreement with &Pizza was heralded by ANC Commissioners and neighbors alike as the expected operating standard for all new Barracks Row restaurants. See here: http://bit.ly/WJQiUA To his credit, the new CEO of &Pizza, Michael Lastoria, reportedly enthusiastically embraced the new standards. CHC reported on Lastoria’s new job and on former Ruby Tuesday founder Sandy Beall becoming chair of &Pizza’s Board of Directors, here: http://bit.ly/1cE7WRq
Babin was named 2014 Restaurateur of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. He is recognized as an innovator in the food and hospitality industry, especially in addressing sustainability issues. Zagat’s 2013 edition says: “Babin also founded and serves as chairman of the board of directors for Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, a nonprofit that runs a farm and helps teach children about nutrition and growing food. Good deeds and great food? That’s smart business.”
Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s current outlets include: The Evening Star (Alexandria – southern food), Vermilion (Alexandria – farm-driven American cooking), Hazel (forthcoming soon in Shaw with a “globally influenced” menu), B Side (Merrifield – heavy on meat and fried food contemporary American), Rustico (Alexandria & Ballston – contemporary American and artisan pizza), Buzz (Navy Yard/Alexandria/Ballston – bakery and coffee lounge), Columbia Firehouse (Old Town Alexandria – traditional American comfort food), Blue Jacket (SE Washington Navy Yard – contemporary American), Planet Wine (Del Ray – wine shop), Birch and Barley (Logan Circle – all about beer), Churchkey (also Logan Circle – also all about beer), 550 Events (catering), Red Apron Butchery (Penn Quarter and Union Market – meat), GBD (“Golden Brown Delicious” – Connecticut Avenue – chicken and doughnuts), Iron Gate (Dupont Circle – modern Mediterranean), The Partisan (Penn Quarter – contemporary American). Neighborhood Restaurant Group also has plans for a new concept restaurant in North Bethesda, Pike & Rose – coming soon.