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The Beuchert Boys & the Case of the Neverending Beards

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Brendan McMahon, August Paro and Nathan Berger, early December.
Brendan McMahon, August Paro and Nathan Berger, early December.

[Photos: R. Lopez, Missy Frederick]

Brendan McMahon, August Paro and Nathan Berger are looking decidedly more hairy than usual.

That's because the business partners behind Beuchert's Saloon, a new restaurant and bar headed to 623 Pennsylvania Avenue SE in Capitol Hill next year, have vowed they won't shave until the restaurant has its certificate of occupancy. That was in September. And with a January opening target, there's been plenty of time for their facial hair to grow.

"We'd been spending a lot of time at the space, and with each other, and it sort of just happened organically," said Berger, who has known his partners since 2011. They started seriously planning for a restaurant last year and nailed down the specifics of what they wanted to do in February. They found a chef — PS7's alumnus Andrew Markert — and refined the project as they learned more about the building's history.

For Berger, the beard isn't a huge deal. He's had some sort of facial hair for the past 10 years. It's been more of an adjustment for Paro and McMahon. People who met Paro back in August are having to be re-introduced to him. MacMahon's and Berger's parents are less than 100 percent on board with the look.

"I think my mother was kind of glad I wasn't home for the Christmas card, since I look kind of disheveled," Berger said. "I'm actually starting to get really used to it," said Paro. "My wife is not ecstatic, though."

Paro and MacMahon have taken on a major role in the building's design and construction. The building has been around for about 130 years, and the restaurant's name comes from a tenant with the same name, which probably began operations around 1880, and later converted into a speakeasy during prohibition. "We kind of found this all out as we went," said Paro.

Paro, who lived in L.A. and spent some time working as a set designer, has approached the job like a movie set, trying to recreate details that are as authentic as possible to the old saloon and speakeasy. Expect touches such as an antique meat slicer, aged mirrors, and 27-foot tall antique chandeliers, decorated with amber teardrops. The wood for the creaky floor and tabletops comes from a barn from McMahon's family farm, East Oaks Organics Farm, which is providing much of the produce for the restaurant. Old medicine cabinets are in the bathroom, with funny messages painted inside directed towards those who peek in.

The 1,250 square foot restaurant will have an outdoor patio in the backyard, seating about 20, with fruit trees and produce grown on site back there. The restaurant has a bar, formal dining area and chef's table near the pass. Items such as seasonal vegetables and jars of house-made pickles will be display in the front. An antique tap has been converted into a prosecco tap at the bar. Market's menu will feature fun treats such as homemade twinkies, an entire section devoted to vegetables, and more substantial items such as steaks and chickens.

If all goes as planned, the partners will get to shave their beards off for an early January opening. Take a look at the gallery above for pics from about two weeks ago, and then last night, to get a sense of the progress.

· All Previous Beuchert's Saloon Coverage [-EDC-]

Beuchert's Saloon

623 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington DC, DC 20003 202-733-1384

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