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Eli Hengst (left) and Jared Rager (right)

Eli Hengst, co-owner of Capitol Hill’s pioneering wine bar Sonoma, informs Young & Hungry that he and partner Jared Rager have reached an agreement with Five Glovers Group, owners of Town Hall, to take over their lease and liquor license at the former Blue Ridge restaurant in Glover Park.

“Jared and I believe Five Glovers—given their long and successful history in the neighborhood—will be a great fit for the space and we wish them the best going forward,” Hengst writes in an email.

The new owners will be moving their existing Town Hall concept into the Blue Ridge space.

“For us, it’s two-fold,” says partner Paul Holder. “(1) We can expand our dining room facilities, and (2) that outdoor space. We had garnered permission to build the roof deck here. Then we saw that space there and figured it was already built. It’s a pretty unique outdoor back patio area…It’s a good fit for us.”

The plan is to begin renovations shortly while existing Town Hall is still open. Holder says the group hopes to open the new and improved Town Hall sometime in November.

Closed for nearly a year now, Blue Ridge had been besieged with operational headaches: first, losing noted chef Barton Chef, and later, abruptly shifting its focus from wine to beer before heading back to the drawing board indefinitely.

“It’s a little sad,” says Rager, the former co-owner. “Having Blue Ridge resolved is certainly a relief, but we were hoping to re-approach that and make it something cool.”

Rager and Hengst have also sold-off their lease on the former Mendocino space in Georgetown. The pair won’t disclose the buyer on that deal, citing a confidentiality agreement.

Rager says he’ll now be devoting more resources to his other restaurants, Sonoma and Redwood in Bethesda. “I made the joke that my workload is getting lighter,” he says, “but all it really does is re-shift your priorities a little.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery