First time restaurant owner Mitch Mathis has several ties to the U Street and Cardozo neighborhoods. The District native’s parents were even high school sweethearts at Francis L. Cardozo High School and his mom and her five sisters grew up on Sherman Ave. NW. “That’s part of the reason why I wanted to take that space and do something for the people of D.C.,” he says.
Mathis has been putting on nightlife events in D.C. since he was 17 and is now the CEO of DT Nation. He’s taking over the former Nonna’s Kitchen and Alphonse space at 1212 U St. NW. The meaning of name of his restaurant, Brooklyn, is two-fold.
About six or seven years ago, when he noticed bars like Marvin, Lost Society, and Policy were seeing success, he vowed that if he ever opened up his own place in the neighborhood he would name it Brooklyn. “It’s the culture, community, and bringing people together,” he says. “That’s what Brooklyn is in New York City. It’s a free-spirited environment.”
He also says the name is a shout out to women. “Since I’ve been involved in a lot of events in nightlife, we have a lot of females that follow us,” Mathis explains. “So we did a two-concept thing with making Brooklyn based around a female name. Brooklyn is one of the most popular names right now.”
The first floor of the restaurant will be for dining and the upstairs will be transformed into a lounge for drinks. Mathis’ brother-in-law will be the chef, serving a menu where pizza is the star. Alphonse already had a built-in brick oven. There will also be basics like burgers, wings, and salads. For dessert they’re bringing in Junior’s Cheesecake from Brooklyn, New York.
Mathis says his ultimate goal is to “come in and do something to keep things hip and cool and also community-related as well where people feel comfortable.” He expressed some frustration about non-local owners that are starting to shape the neighborhoods where he grew up. “Natives get pushed to the side and it’s not a good look,” he says.
Mathis optimistically hopes to open in the next two months.
Brooklyn, 1212 U St. NW