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The curtain is about to come up on Jean Paul Sabatier’s first venture as a co-owner. For more than a decade he’s been an employee, helping others run hotspots like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Compass Rose, and Maydan. In the final weeks leading up to Jane Jane’s debut in the Liz development on 14th Street NW, Sabatier sat down to write a training manual for the people he hopes will make the 850-square-foot cocktail lair special.
It’s simple, he instructs: Treat every table like they’re guests you’re hosting in your home. “What do you do at a cocktail party?” he asks rhetorically. “You take their coats, get them water, get them a snack, and get them something to drink.”
Sabatier has close friends by his side in this venture. Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, the couple behind Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop, are Jane Jane co-owners. They first teamed up on Dot’s Spot, a Southern brunch pop-up based out of BKK Cookshop in 2017. Brabham and Porterfield are from North Carolina.
Brabham’s mother, Jane, so embodies Southern hospitality that they named the bar after her. Sabatier remembers a surprise visit when they told “Jane Jane” they were three minutes out. Upon arrival she pulled pigs in a blanket out of the oven like some kind of magic trick. “I went to culinary school,” Sabatier says. “I know how long it takes for an oven to get to 350 degrees.” “She’s always ready to host on a dime,” Brabham adds. “We say she’s never met a stranger.”
Many of the cocktails ($12–$18) will be recognizable classics. Others won’t, but Sabatier feels they’re just as deserving of attention. “Working at Rappahannock, we had a lot of cool classics,” he says. “That’s when I became obsessed with an Adonis and Fourth Regiment—all these cocktails that are equally as classic but don’t have the same resonance or exposure as a Martini, Manhattan, or Old Fashioned.”
Jane Jane will shake and stir 10 original cocktails. They’ll also make you a vodka soda or pour you a beer or glass of wine if that’s what you’re after. Non-alcoholic cocktails will also be available. “‘Yes is the answer, what is the question’ is the motto here,” Sabatier says.
There’s no kitchen, only a tabletop oven behind the bar. Expect a snack menu of “crispy, salty, crunchy foods” like mixed nuts, pigs in a blanket, olives, and plenty of companions for chips, ranging from French onion dip and pimento cheese to “Jane’s Caviar” featuring crème fraîche crowned with trout roe. “The gag is the upgrade,” Porterfield says. “You can swap out the crème fraîche for French onion dip. It’s, chef’s kiss.”
Edit Lab at Streetsense’s John DeNapoli led the team that appointed the cozy space to look like a retro cocktail den complete with plaid-impersonating mosaic tile. Sabatier says ADA compliance was a high priority. Jane Jane has 32 seats inside and 14 seats outside. Indoor seats will be available on a first come, first served basis. A host will keep a waitlist for the patio. We’re not one to ruin a restroom surprise, but be sure to check out the wallpaper.
The owners hope Jane Jane will be where people hang before or after dinner in the neighborhood. They’re essentially opening the bar they’ve always wanted. “I want us to be a place where if you’re going to Le Diplomate, you want to have a beautiful before or after dinner drink here,” Porterfield says. “But we also want regulars.” Just as they hope restaurants on wait lists will send their customers to Jane Jane, Sabatier says they’ll return the favor by recommending their favorite spots for a full meal nearby.
When Jane Jane opens later this month, they’ll be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Once they settle in, the hours will extend to 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. There are plans to be open for weekend brunch in a couple months with food like quiche or pastries brought in from Buttercream Bakeshop in Shaw. “I love all three of them,” co-owner Tiffany MacIsaac says of Jane Jane’s owners. “I hope they pay in cocktails. I’m not even joking.”
Jane Jane, 1705 14th St. NW, janejanedc.com