After more than a year and a half of waiting, Columbia Heights is on the brink of getting a 24-hour diner — well, at least one that isn't IHOP. Tomorrow marks the soft-opening day for The Coupe, the latest concept from Constantine Stavropoulos, the restaurateur behind Tryst, The Diner and Open City. And The Coupe will be familiar to anyone who has dined at those spaces thanks to its pressed-in ceilings, mismatched furniture, coffee program, and round-the-clock availability as has previously been found at The Diner. But, of course, this Columbia Heights newcomer has plenty to set it apart from its brethren, too.
From the outside, The Coupe is going for a classical look — Stravropoulos says he father is an architect who designed the building's facade on the 11th Street strip. Inside, the space is linear, with the main entrance at the center of the restaurant. The first thing to see upon entering is a coffee bar with a two-inch white counter top and black front. To the left upon entering, there's the actual diner space with a U-shaped bar, booths in the windows, banquettes and a community table. To the right, there's a lounge full of mismatched furniture like that at Tryst, a free-standing high-top table for drinking your coffee and then the bar.
As for the menus, Stravopoulos says they'll be doing pour-over coffee, espresso-based drinks, tea and more or less everything you can find at Tryst — and the baristas are Tryst-trained. Meanwhile, the bar offers more than 50 wines, many of them by the glass, as well as keg wine. To make the wait for cocktails go a little bit faster, The Coupe is pre-bottling its craft cocktails. And while the food menu for The Coupe wasn't available just yet, Stravopoulos says to expect a twist on familiar foods. So there's a play on mac 'n cheese, a rabbit pot pie and buffalo wings that are actually frog legs.
The diner opens at 5 p.m. tomorrow (Oct. 4) and will run on limited hours for the next few days — limited meaning that it will open early mornings and close late at night, but won't be fully 24-hour operational. When does that happen? Well, Stravropoulos says, The Coupe will fully open up on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and from then on expects to be open forever.