For Those in the DC Restaurant Business, There’s No Place Like A Close Home

by Rebecca Cooper

For Those in the DC Restaurant Business, There’s No Place Like A Close Home: Figure 1
Gina Chersevani on Capitol Hill.

It’s a restaurant or bar owner’s lot in life. The phone rings, and it’s someone saying the restaurant’s out of wood for the pizza oven, or that the freezer went out again, or that there’s been a break-in.

Those phone calls and subsequent trips make location more than a business plan for restaurant owners -- especially those with small businesses and a limited number of employees.

“What if the burglar alarm goes off in the middle of the night?” says Adam Lubar, who along with his partners opened William Jeffery’s Tavern on Columbia Pike in Arlington in December. Lumbar lives less than five minutes from the restaurant.

“This is our baby,” says Lubar. “This is the restaurant we need to give the most attention to right now, so it’s nice I’m [not too far] away.”

Lubar co-owns three other restaurants with Chris Lefbom and Wilson Whitney: Rhodeside Grill and Ragtime in Courthouse and Dogwood Tavern in Falls Church. When Lubar bought a four-bedroom Cape Cod off Columbia Pike seven years ago, they didn’t have a restaurant within its vicinity.

“It was going from places where I could walk to work [to where I had to drive],” he says. “It felt far.”

For Those in the DC Restaurant Business, There’s No Place Like A Close Home: Figure 2
Adam Lubar in front of William Jeffrey's.

Gina Chersevani, DC’s illustrious “mixtress,” has been enjoying her walk-to-work life since making a move earlier this year. The former PS 7's bar manager is now running the beverage program at Hank’s Oyster Bar on Capitol Hill (map), and also just opened Buffalo and Bergen, a soda shop in the new Union Market in Northeast.

Her rented row house is about a 10-minute walk from both of her jobs.

“There’s that comfort. You can go home for dinner and come back if you have to,” she says. “You can walk the dog or water your plants.”

Chersevani has been looking for a restaurant opportunity on Capitol Hill almost as long as she's lived in the neighborhood. She moved into her house six years ago, and she loves that it is a short walk to Eastern Market and that she has "the Capitol as my night light." That love for the neighborhood is what made her want to bring her brand of mixology to the Hill.

“I want you to live your life within these four walls,” she says as she sits at Hank’s immaculately organized Eddy Bar. “And I want to live my life within a few feet of it.”

For Those in the DC Restaurant Business, There’s No Place Like A Close Home: Figure 3
The Eddy bar at Hank's on the Hill.

Her story is a familiar one: restaurateur moves into a neighborhood, loves said neighborhood and wants to open a business there. Lubar became a big Columbia Pike advocate once he moved in, urging his partners to consider opening William Jeffrey’s. And Tony Tomelden, owner of The Pug at 1234 H Street NE but a proud Brookland resident, is now looking to bring his talents to his home turf.

“Really, it was my wife Steph telling me, ‘look, you did enough work building up H Street, you can do something in our neighborhood now,” Tomelden told UrbanTurf.

He and a partner, John Solomon of Solly’s on U Street, are currently in negotiations to open a restaurant and bar on 12th Street NE in the current Optimism restaurant space. There’s no name yet, but Tomelden envisions a family-friendly place with a bar that will be a neighborhood spot. He bought his semi-detached row home in the neighborhood a decade ago.

“It’s an effort to be closer to home, but it’s also recognizing that this neighborhood deserves more stuff,” he says of the new venture. As for the potential two-minute walk commute? It’ll be nice, although that can have its down side, he adds.

“There are benefits of being close by if there’s a problem,” he says. “But by the same token, it could be a curse. This is one of those jobs you can work every second of every day.”

Lubar understands. He’s been spending a good deal of time at William Jeffrey’s while they work to get their patio built and open. But he’s also about to cut the cord; he and his wife have been house hunting and recently put an offer on a house in McLean — a 25 minute drive to William Jeffrey’s in light traffic.

“I’m definitely apprehensive about adding to the commute,” he says. “In this business, you’re kind of always on call.”

Rebecca Cooper is a freelance journalist and avid eater that has contributed to TBD, DCist, and Washingtonian. If you have any tips about restaurant or bars openings or closings, email Rebecca at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Similar Posts:

* The Emerging Restaurant Scene on 11th Street * First Look at Union Market

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/for_restaurant_owners_theres_no_place_like_a_close_home/6021

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »