Baltimore chef Spike Gjerde wasn't looking to open a Washington restaurant a few years ago. But when the group behind the forthcoming Line hotel in Adams Morgan approached him about bringing his local food approach south, it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
Gjerde, the James Beard Award-winning chef behind Woodberry Kitchen, Parts & Labor and other restaurants in the Foodshed group, is opening his first D.C. restaurant later this year. The yet-to-be-named restaurant will open in a historic church at 1770 Euclid St. NW, part of the Sydell Group's larger hotel project.
It's been about three years since developers from the Sydell Group approached Gjerde,with the proposal to build a restaurant in the Line hotel, Gjerde said. He was impressed by the group's work on other hotel projects, including the NoMad in New York.
"We weren’t specifically looking at D.C. at that time, but we had always said if it was ever going to be another city it would be D.C. because of the way that we source,” Gjerde said. "It’s just going to be opening up literally new territory for us.”
Gjerde's team will begin working more with Virginia farmers, and the menu will be "a little more Southern-looking in our approach," he said.
The new restaurant will continue using whole animals, and Gjerde wants to expand that practice to include small birds and game animals.
"We’re thinking of it as Woodberry with just a little more polish," Gjerde said. "I think in D.C. there's an opportunity to add a little more finesse to the service."
As a first-time operator in D.C.'s restaurant market, Gjerde said he's not quite sure what to expect.
"There’s no question that it’s substantially different," he said.
It's also the first time Gjerde has opened a restaurant within a hotel, which he expects will create a more demanding, year-round schedule.
"We’ve always been pretty much stalwarts on our schedule, but this is that place that’s going to be open every day,” he said.
He noted it won't provide room service.
Corey Polyoka of Foodshed is developing the restaurant's bar program and partnering with Gjerde on the business, and Woodberry Kitchen's chef de cuisine, Opie Crooks, will head the kitchen at the D.C. restaurant. Woodberry Kitchen hasn't yet announced who will be taking Crooks' place.
The restaurant will also incorporate a coffee shop.
Alongside Gjerde, D.C. chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Toki Underground fame will operate another restaurant in the hotel.
Back in Baltimore, Gjerde is busy with another addition to his restaurant group — he's opening a bookstore-cafe with the owners of the Ivy Bookshop. The new Charles Village cafe is on track to open in August.