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Real estate developer Aaron Hirsch is working to bring a outdoor restaurant with picnic food fare and games to the Shaw neighborhood next year.
Garden State, named after its address at 1539-1541 New Jersey Ave. NW, would feature picnic tables and “straight-forward food” like half-smokes, tater tots, barbecue, and coleslaw. Hirsch would also like to add a bocce court or corn hole to the 8,000 sq. ft. lot, as well as a gazebo for non-amplified performances, plenty of bike racks, and a sand box to play in.
“If adults want to use the sandbox, they’d be welcome to do that,” Hirsch says.
Because of the outdoor-only seating, Garden Sate would likely close from December through February and on days with bad weather. Hirsch envisions a system where people can text in to see if the eatery is open or closed. He says it’s possible that he might add an enclosed sidewalk cafe down the road.
This is Hirsch’s first restaurant, but he’s looking to partner with a more experienced restaurant operator. There are also some obstacles to overcome before the restaurant can open, or even begin construction. The lot is currently zoned residential—even though several commercial enterprises have previously occupied—which means that Hirsch will need to get a zoning variance from the Board of Zoning Adjustment. Most recently, the space was used as parking for a moving company.
To obtain a zoning variance, Hirsch is attending community meetings and looking to gain support from the neighborhood. So far, he says the response has been mostly positive, but he’s also trying to schedule a meeting with leaders of a nearby historic mosque to get their blessing.
If all goes as planned, Hirsch would like to open by March 2013.
Photos via Aaron Hirsch