Fritz's Edumacated Guesses
By now, I know that bureaucracy, construction issues and other seemingly minor delays can render these "What I'm Looking Forward To" blog posts rather pointless. After all, early last summer I was anticipating the imminent arrivals of Vegetate, Ned Devine's Irish Village and Temperance Hall. (Ned Devine's finally opened on Dec. 30, Temperance has yet to welcome customers to Petworth and DJ Dredd's Vegetate restaurant still doesn't have a liquor license, rendering the lounge useless.)
Additionally, there's always the random surprise: Who would have guessed the latest branch of Clyde's would be so cool?
Instead, here are some things I hope happen in 2006.
Drink Prices Crash, Just Like the Housing Bubble
More and more lounges have decided that the base price for a house martini is $10. At Mie N Yu, cocktails now start at $12. For the price of a bottle -- a bottle -- of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale at Science Club ($8), you can buy a six-pack of a decent microbrew at your better liquor stores. Some in-the-know bartenders I've talked to are predicting a shakeout: Well-known, high-rolling places may lose a lot of business as price points get higher and higher, and customers choose to go out less often or head for less-expensive nightspots.
From Pizzeria to Birreria
I met Pizzeria Paradiso Manager Thor Cheston in a bar -- where else? -- a few months ago, and he told me he was planning to open Birreria Paradiso, a new rathskeller-style beer bar, in the basement of the Georgetown pizza joint. I was especially intrigued because, while Georgetown has a variety of cocktail lounges, it lacks a decent place to relax with a nice pint. Cheston is quadrupling the size of the restaurant's current selection to at least 16 drafts and 80 bottles, and since he's such a Belgian beer aficionado, I expect a few hard-to-find Trappists and local standouts to make the list. He's planning to open the new space in February.
A New Temperance Movement
As mentioned above, Temperance Hall is a two-story restaurant and bar coming to Petworth, a neighborhood that can use some more sit-down dining and drinking options. It's supposed to be open "any day now," and is run by Joe Englert, who's also planning to bring several more bars to H Street NE this year, starting with the Red and Black (a live music venue) and the Pug (a boxing-themed sports bar) in the next few months.
Kyma to Add Good Karma
Annapolis is a favorite day trip of mine, though the collection of wood-and-brass pubs could use a little jazzing up. That's why I'm looking forward to the addition of Kyma, a restaurant and lounge opening on West Street. It's in partnership with the folks behind Mie N Yu, so the food -- billed as "contemporary Greek and Spanish cuisine with flavors from the Chesapeake" -- might not be the draw. The bar's specialty cocktail list and a design by Adamstein & Demetriou, the architects behind IndeBleu, Oyamel, Zaytinya and Zola, will certainly merit a look.
Ri-Ra Gives Arlington a New Neighborhood Hangout
I've dissed chains in the past. I've bemoaned the invasion of corporate restaurants and bars, especially when two locally owned Irish pubs opened in Court House and Clarendon last year. Still, I'm looking forward to Ri-Ra Irish Pub arriving on Wilson Boulevard in the next month or so. Why? I like the atmosphere at Bethesda's Ri-Ra Irish Pub better than Clarendon's Molly Malone's and Kitty O'Shea's, and this new Arlington space -- formerly Virginia Hardware -- should offer plenty of room for pints, darts, live music and a pub quiz.
People Get Over the Smoking Ban
It's coming, and griping won't change anything. Instead, bar owners, customers and neighborhood groups need to become proactive and figure out what changes need to be made well in advance of January 1, 2007, to assure as smooth a transition as possible. Otherwise, we're looking at ticked-off bouncers, ticked-off patrons and a chaotic situation. (The people who pushed for the ban better not complain about groups of twenty-somethings blocking sidewalks in Adams Morgan.)
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