A quaint 25-seat Shaw bar opens for business Thursday, November 9, complete with a crackling fireplace, refurbished wood, and a hand-me-down butcher’s knife all connected to its owner’s family.
The bar at 600 T Street NW is technically named 600t, but owner Stephen Lawrence says the hope is to make it a word-of-mouth place. Its straightforward list of cocktails also carry vague names like Vodka, Gin, and Mezcal.
Lawrence tells Eater he’s been working on the DIY spot for the past two years, building all its wood tables and furniture by hand. Sledgehammer in tow, Lawrence — once an owner of a demolition company — knocked down drywall to expose the original brick hidden beneath. The space oozes history: originally built in the late 1800s, Lawrence converted it into a two-bedroom apartment about a decade ago.
Lawrence also owns the adjoining building that houses food truck-turned-restaurant Rito Loco and its new colorful rooftop bar, El Techo. He wanted to wait for that to debut this summer before unveiling 600t.
While he handled all the craftsmanship, Lawrence’s brother is responsible for the artwork, including the Picasso-esque paintings that appear throughout. His brother works at a facility for incarcerated youth in Maryland, and one sculpture the kids worked on — old rifles fashioned into a peace sign — functions as a chandelier.
The trial-and-error project led to some great aesthetic discoveries. While chiseling out one wall, the shape of a nose led to the idea to create a whole female silhouette.
“The painting found itself,” Lawrence says.
Knowledge gathered from his extensive travels are evident throughout, like how to maximize small spaces (he lived in Japan). Lawrence also drew inspiration from bars in Brooklyn, New York, where he lived the past three years.
The bar program is pretty straightforward, focusing on beer, wine, and 10 to 12 cocktails that will rotate monthly. Seasonal produce plucked from farmers markets will make its way into drinks.
Cocktails are named after spirits that star in them; the Rye, for instance, has High West Campfire, pine needles, and black walnut bitters, while the Mezcal features Ilegal Reposado, agave, lime, and bell pepper. Bar snacks will include mixed nuts, fresh breads, and a cheese, chocolate and olive plate.
An 80-year-old butcher’s knife, used by a great-grandparent, will be used for its ice program. Cocktails will be served in a variety of antique glassware he collected in Charlottesville, Virginia, and West Virginia.
“I tried to use old stuff and things that carry energy. When you put it together and you add love to it, it resonates,” Lawrence says, adding that, “D.C. is stuck in a niche of cookie cutter syndrome. Everything tastes and looks the same. I really want to deliver something with substance and soul.”
The bar is projected to operate from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Lawrence says he may later add Sunday to the rotation, and is considering hosting private events or cocktail dinners with guest chefs.
Status: Opening at 5 p.m., Friday, November 10. Grand opening scheduled for Wednesday, November 15. 600 T Street NW.
Scroll down for a look inside the new bar.