Some monster news came last week when Toki Underground's Erik Bruner-Yang and Durkl's Will Sharp revealed their plans to jointly open a "next generation Eastern Market" named Maketto on H Street NE, but details were scarce. And, indeed, the Toki Underground chef and owner is still figuring out some of those details as he is currently undertaking some research travel in Asia. But here are some things for sure: it will not be a formal restaurant space, but rather "more a space that will allow people to flow seamlessly from stall to stall, from fashion to food, from indoors to outdoors," per a rep. There will be a chef's table for sit-down events and tastings, plus a full kitchen and a patio where there will likely be some seating.
Though Bruner-Yang was unavailable by telephone during his travels, he took the time to answer some questions via email about what he has planned for the space, both design-wise and food-wise. It's a project that he and Sharp have been working on for the past six months, he writes, and could open as soon as "early next year." There's also already at least one vendor lined up.
What is the food component going to look like?
Right now I am traveling around Taipei, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh so the food component will be based heavily on my favorite dishes from this trip. Hoping to keep everything classically traditional but accesible to a larger diverse crowd. You can follow my instagram for this trip Maketto_DC (hashtag #maketto) to see what inspires me. These photos will also be posted on Popularise.com so folks can see photos as I take them.
How did you get involved with Will Sharp on this?
Will has been a huge fan of Toki Underground and I have always been a huge fan of Durkl. I was actually in one of their photo projects about a year ago too.
I understand that this is completely separate from Toki, but will there be occasional collaborations?
Toki Underground will always be my baby but we can think of this like a second child.
Will you be cooking here, too?
What kinds of vendors are you looking at for the space?
We really want to service the community and especially those living around H Street. Those are the type of vendors that we are looking for. We plan to be open from breakfast to late night, dine in, carry out, wholesale...so the menu and the vendors need to be diverse.
Have you already been in talks with some?
Vigilante Coffee has already signed up for the cafe component. They have their own farm supply and we will be doing all of our roasting on location. Chris [Vigilante] is amazing and has so much passion for coffee. Super excited about having him on board.
What timeline are we looking at for this to become a reality? This year? Next?
As of right now, it is hard to tell, but the goal is early next year.
What do you envision for the space design-wise?
Toki Underground is like an eye orgasm so for Maketto it will really be about clean and modern architectural lines and features. Highlighting how open and huge the space is and really letting the retail product and food be the feature. Everything from the cafe to the retail components will all have seamless integration. For example eating in the retail store won't feel like you are eating in a retail store.
Have any plans yet for that patio space?
We are still in design phase but it is definitely more of a courtyard than a patio. We hope for it to be year around because to really capture some of the Asian night market aesthetic we will need it to function that way.