City Paper is not for tourists
Prequel—the “pop-up megaplex” at 918 F St. NW that will eventually host as many as five rotating restaurants and bars at a time—opens to the public this Thursday with Bluebird Bakery taking over the ground floor. A bar called Brick & Mortar will open in Prequel’s basement in the coming weeks, as soon as it gets a liquor license. More pop-ups, including one from a lobster and burger concept called Lighthouse, will follow. Overseeing the whole thing as general manager will be DGS Delicatessen‘s Brian Zipin, who remains a partner in the Dupont deli but will no longer run its front-of-house operations.
The pop-up building, located in LivingSocial’s former event space, comes from the same team behind EquityEats, a D.C.-based crowdfunding platform for restaurants that allows investors to earn profits rather than just perks. The goal is that chefs and restaurateurs looking to raise funds through EquityEats will be able to showcase their offerings to potential investors and the public through Prequel. (Others who aren’t affiliated with EquityEats will be able to use the space as well.) Prequel was the first D.C. business to take advantage of investment-based crowdfunding regulations that the D.C. government passed in October. It ultimately raised $200,000 from more than 300 D.C. residents in less than a month.
Pastry chefs and husband-wife team Tom Wellings and Camila Arango opened a pop-up for their Bluebird Bakery exclusively to Prequel investors on Monday, but anyone will be able to stop in beginning Thursday. The bakery will be open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day except Sunday. In the mornings, look for homemade pastries like croissants, pistachio cherry tea cake, spring onion-cheddar-pancetta scones, and kale-ricotta-pine nut tarts. Around lunch time and in the afternoon, the menu will feature pizza bianca—a cross between a pizza and a bread with a focaccia-like texture—with toppings like mushrooms, tomatoes, or rosemary-olive oil-sea salt. Other sweets will range from macarons to seasonal fruit tarts to chocolate cake.
While Bluebird Bakery has no set end-date for its pop-up, other daytime concepts will eventually rotate through the street-level space. La Colombe will always supply the coffee bar.
The next phase of Prequel’s roll-out will be the debut of Brick & Mortar, the house bar. Estadio and Proof Beverage Director Max Kuller will oversee the wine and beer selection (plus some meads and ciders), while Zipin is in charge of the cocktails. The menu will include drinks like a pisco daiquiri with pineapple shrub and something called a covadonga with Aperol, sweet vermouth, fresh orange juice, and a pomegranate reduction. At the same time, “we don’t want to turn it into a cocktail bar,” Zipin says. “We want a place where you can get a great glass of wine, a great beer, a great cocktail, a great list of spirits.” The bar, which has a few TVs where you can catch a game, will also serve some snacks like charcuterie or a salad. Expect a happy hour as well.
If a drinks-focused concept wants to pop-up at Prequel, it can take over the bar. Otherwise, Brick & Mortar will be a permanent fixture where people can stop in for a drink after work or before dinner at one of the other pop-ups. The Prequel team hopes to have all five of its floors up-and-running by early summer.
Photos of Bluebird Bakery by Jessica Sidman