New Kids On The Block: U Street/H Street
Solid State Books
Solid State Books will arrive this fall at The Apollo, taking 4,300 SF of the 430-unit building’s 80K SF of retail and joining 40K SF anchor tenant Whole Foods at the $189M property.
Former Kramerbooks head buyer Jake Cumsky-Whitlock partnered with former Kramerbooks General Manager Scott Abel to raise over $600K from friends and community supporters, who each contributed between $1K and $25K.
The pair, who met at the Dupont Circle bookstore, signed the lease for their new endeavor last month. They revealed the store will feature an event space accommodating up to 100 guests, a large children’s section and a small café selling food, coffee, beer and wine. According to Cumsky-Whitlock, the store will be 95% book-oriented, as he believes the highly educated D.C. population represents an underserved market.
Bar Elena will replace Karlos Leopold’s mid-range, farm-to-table, casual bistro Boundary Road, which opened in 2012 at 414 H St. NE. Leopold is partnering with seasoned chef Adam Stein, who is bringing the experiential, 7K SF Eleanor to Ivy City in 2018, featuring a restaurant, a bar and a bowling alley.
Stein, who will be chef and managing partner at Bar Elena, wants to maintain the successful elements of Boundary Road while installing pinball machines, arcade games and televisions. He hopes the simultaneous throwback and update will activate the space at the back of the bar.
The drinks menu will emphasize craft cocktails while celebrating local D.C., Maryland and Virginia breweries and distilleries. Prices are expected to stay within the $11 to $26 range when the restaurant reopens at the end of the month.
The fast-casual Korean-Mexican fusion concept TaKorean, which started as a food truck in 2010, opened its fourth D.C. area brick-and-mortar in April in the Ellington at 1301 U St. NW. To celebrate the opening, the first 100 guests at each location received free meals.
This newest 1,800 SF spot’s drinks menu includes craft beers, sake and kombucha. TaKorean CEO, founder and chef Mike Lenard retired his original food truck in 2015 and donated it to Arcadia Farms. Now, his U Street, Union Market, downtown and The Yards locations all offer the same customizable menu and build-your-own taco experience. Lenard is optimistic about his company’s growth and expansion prospects and is scouting future destinations.