Smith Commons is getting a “cooler younger sister” called Smith Public Trust later this year in Brookland.
The latest restaurant from owner Miles Gray, located at3514 12th St. NE, will be an all-day neighborhood eatery open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and longer on weekends. Gray envisions it as a place where people can come in to have a coffee and use free wifi during the day, grab a beer and some grub, or enjoy some live music on weekends. Gray says the idea is for the restaurant to be an incubator for local musicians. The 3,500 square-foot space has a small stage for electro, indie, hip-hop, jazz, and other performances, which will all be free.
Former Smith Commons chef Carlos Delgado and current chef Kamal Chanaka are developing a mostly small plates menu. Gray describes the food as “world fare with an American twist—just approachable cuisine.” He explains: “We hope to just put forward good food that people who aren’t foodies, it can help them become foodies.” Like Smith Commons, there will be an emphasis on craft beers with 12 taps in addition to cocktails and wines.
The space, which includes a 35-foot bar and a small back deck, will have an “industrial feel” with wood, brick, and metal. “We’re stripping the building back to its original structure and its core without trying to dress it too much,” Gray says. Over the years, the building has belonged to a number of Catholic University bars, including Johnny K’s and Kitty O’Shea’s.
As for the name Smith Public Trust? “The public holds the power and the real future of society,” Gray says. “The trust that the public places in democratic officials needs to be respected by those elected officials. As I try to put my finger print and a little bit of art in almost everything I do, it’s kind of a message that as a society we’ve gotten away from those ideals.”
Gray hopes to have the restaurant open by the end of the year. Smith Public Trust will be joined by a number of other new restaurants coming to Brookland, including a place from the owner of Meridian Pint and Smoke Barrel, &pizza, Brookland’s Finest Bar & Grill, a spot from the owner of Bloomingdale’s Rustik Tavern, and possibly Busboys and Poets.
“It’s another neighborhood that’s doing development the right way,” Gray says. “D.C.’s exploding right now in a lot of different places, and there are certain places that are bringing everybody along for the ride, and certain neighborhoods bringing certain subsets of people along for the ride. I’m an everybody guy.”