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Yung Park used to run a liquor store in Southwest D.C. Now he’s serving up a more stimulating type of liquid refreshment. “People want something different than Starbucks,” says Park, proprietor of the new Lot 38 Espresso Bar, which opened this week next door to the Courtyard Marriott in Southeast’s Navy Yard neighborhood.
Park’s place, located about two blocks away from the nearest outpost of the Seattle java giant, brews up cups of the fancy Italian illy brand of joe. “It’s smooth,” he says. But his joint doesn’t do the popular pour-over method (“I know that’s a trend,” he says—-albeit one his coffee supplier isn’t particularly fond of) or demonstrate its baristas’ artistry with ornate designs in foam like, say, Filter or Peregrine Espresso.
Still, he says its slightly “more upscale” than Starbucks. He’s right: A 16-ounce latte there costs a whole nickel more than its neighboring grande rival ($3.60 versus $3.55). And it tastes a bit less bitter, too.
His danishes, croissants and pies come from Hawthorne Fine Bakery in Severna Park, Md. And, of course, there’s free wifi, too.
Four years ago, Park says he bought the century-old building that used to occupy that corner with the hopes of restoring it. An engineer instead recommended that he tear it down and build anew. “It took me a long time—-and money,” he says. The name of the two-level, 40-seat coffee house derives from the real estate digits assigned to the combined tracts on which it sits, which previously spanned two lots, he explains.
Park says he’s confident that the developing neighborhood can support two coffee shops. He’s particularly excited about the upcoming baseball season at nearby Nationals Park. “We might sell a lot of iced drinks,” he says. “They need to win some games, though.”
Lot 38 Espresso Bar, 1001 2nd St. SE, (202) 758-0677
Photos by Chris Shott