"It's such a good feeling when you see everything come together," said Gus DiMillo as he walked through Penn Commons, then in its final stages and opening today at 700 6th St. NW. The team at PassionFood Hospitality had been looking for new neighborhoods to transplant its "Commons" concept (District Commons was the first in Foggy Bottoms. "We wanted to take District Commons out on the road," he said. The location, across the street from Graffiato and Daikaya and right next to the Verizon Center, seemed a perfect place to do so. "It's a little away from the real craziness [of 7th Street]," he said.
The PassionFood folks are no strangers to the neighborhood, having previously operated the now-shuttered Ten Penh here (Acadiana is on the edge of the neighborhood as well). They hope to capitalize on the customers going to Verizon Center for concerts and games, plus those with events at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and Marriott Marquis.
DiMillo describes Penn Commons as similar, but not identical to District Commons. "It's not like Chipotle," he said. "We'd get bored to death doing that." The theme is the same: American cuisine, with a focus on American products and artisans like cheesemakers. They've got a beer from every major state that brews, 13 cocktails (from the 13 original colonies), and photo imagery of Presidents playing various sports (to tie in with Verizon Center and the theme).
Another holdover from District Commons: the dinner bell specials, like a sausage feast on Thursday. They've got a raw bar and burgers on the menu, too (since Burger, Tap and Shake is not opening adjacent to the space as it did in Foggy Bottom). Here are the menus.
Penn Commons has a big square bar area and lounge spaces, a modern and comfortable design (accents include cowhide-covered ottomans and big high-top tables and booths), and a private room with a big screen television. DiMillo expects after the restaurant is up and running for about a year, they'll start looking for another site to open a Commons restaurant. But first, they need to get PassionFish open in Bethesda. Status: Opening today. 700 6th St. NW; website.