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October 5, 2012 
14th Street’s BakeHouse

We met with the owners of a sweet new concept destined for 14th Street. BakeHouse bakery and coffee shop will open in January, next door to Taqueria Nacional at 14th and T.
When husband-and-wife owners Niall Cooper and Lindsey Morse moved to DC in 2009, they decided it was time to take their dream of opening a bakery seriously and started doing their homework. Niall took a job as a Starbucks barista in order to fully understand their infamously “well-oiled service system.” While Niall mastered his front-of-house skills, Lindsey took a job as a professional baker to get a handle on back-of-house operations.
Three years later, after meetings with consultants, extensive menu planning, and lease negotiations, BakeHouse is in the home stretch. It will offer American classics like pies, cupcakes, and cookies, “elevated to a more sophisticated level with unique flavors and spices.” In addition to classics like big, soft chocolate chip cookies, expect creative spins like brioche cinnamon rolls with Bailey’s cream cheese frosting and pear muffins with candied ginger. They also plan to incorporate international flavors as a nod to DC’s melting pot community. Think Mexican-inspired spiced chocolate tarts, oatmeal-chai apple crumble, “and scones. Lots of scones.”
Breakfast and lunch will feature hot breakfast sandwiches on housemade English muffins and fresh-grilled panini. Coffee will come from Baltimore-based Zeke’s roasters, and housemade chocolate and caramel syrups will flavor the drinks and desserts. Indoor and outdoor seating will be available, though they’re still debating WiFi. If you can’t wait ‘til January, they will be at Sunday’s Grey Market. Keep an eye out for our preview of BakeHouse (we're just awaiting hardhat clearance).

The Last Bastion of Cheap Eats
Amidst the many trendy new restaurants near 11th & Park, one dusty old gem remains. El Rinconcito Deportivo was on that block well before the hipster revolution, dishing out fresh brick-sized burritos and mountainous nacho platters (the chips are fried before your eyes). But owner Maria Nuñez tells us the restaurant suffers from the age-old gentrification story: higher housing prices driving her regular customers out of the neighborhood while new residents are too distracted by the new businesses to notice her hole-in-the-wall. An ongoing legal dispute with the landlord has stymied an admittedly much-needed renovation, making her shop even easier to ignore. “My regulars always return after trying the new places,” she says, “but I need some new faces in here too.”
Neighborhood politics aside, there are really only two things you need to know about this place: the food is GOOD. And it’s CHEAP. In a town where “cheap eats” are defined as “under $25,” and lunch at a food truck or a post-work drink usually come with a double-digit price tag, isn’t it nice to know that you can still get stuffed to the gills with delicious food for under $10? The next time you’re at Wonderland or Room 11, consider stopping by this neighborhood original for your pre- or post-game carbo-load.

Update: When we first spoke with Maria, she hinted that a winter-time closing may be in the cards. We have now confirmed that, unless the building's new owners are willing to renew her lease, she will be closing up shop in November. Not much time left to pay her a visit!

Have a Side of Juris Doctor
We often hear of disgruntled lawyers jumping ship to try their hand at being restaurateurs. Mark Kuller, owner of Proof and Estadio, has a different story to tell. “I love practicing law, and always have. I just wanted to try something different—but for me, owning restaurants isn’t about trying to get out of the legal world.” Mark is still a practicing tax attorney, and teaches Advanced Partnership Tax at the University of Miami Law School. And his legal training comes in handy when he’s wearing his restaurateur hat—whether it’s negotiating a lease, navigating the tangled permit process, or simply managing day-to-day operations.
Mark explains that legal expertise “saves you a lot of money and time, but more importantly, it familiarizes you with every element of your business. Things that you normally would outsource to a lawyer, you now are on top of yourself.” Faced with a clause requiring landlord approval of buildout plans, he negotiated the addition of an automatic approval clause should the landlord prove unresponsive—a term not usually found in commercial leases. When copyright questions arose about playing music in his restaurants, he determined the correct answers on his own—no billable hours necessary. A JD may not be required to open a restaurant, but perhaps it's not a bad idea.

Food Fight!
The Capital Food Fight is finally here! Tickets are sold out for Monday’s star-studded event, but not to worry—we’ll have a full recap next week. Meanwhile, take a break from presidential debate dissection and check out Jeff Buben’s promo video for a taste of the action. You can see all four competing chefs’ promo videos here.


Oktoberfest-fest - This Saturday, Alexandria’s Virtue Feed & Grain will celebrate Oktoberfest by closing down Wales Alley from 11:30am – 9pm and throwing a party featuring live music, Sam Adams hops, housemade sausages, sauerkraut, potato salad and oysters.


Epic Development - Pentagon City newcomer Epic Smokehouse’s liquor license has at last come through. Check out its extensive yet affordable wine list, and enjoy the novelty of pairing wine with BBQ. They swear it works.

minibar is Back– On the off chance you haven’t heard yet, minibar reservations went live this week. Email no more than a month in advance, and cross all of your fingers and toes you’ll get in.

Taste of Common Good – Next Thursday, LeDroit Park’s Common Good City Farm celebrates its 5th anniversary. The event takes place on the farm and includes a live jazz performance and tastings prepared by chefs from Smoke and Barrel, Ulah Bistro, El Floridano Food Truck, and Taylor Gourmet.


UpStart Entrepreneurship Panel – Looking to pull a BakeHouse yourself? Check out next Saturday’s UpStart Entrepreneurship Panel for advice on starting and running a successful foodservice business. More info here.
Send tips, story ideas, and Food Fight bets to Alia.Khan@bisnow.com. For ad inquiries, contact Stephen Ball, Stephen@bisnow.com.
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