Bloomingdale’s Old Engine 12 restaurant, under new ownership effective next month, is trading comfort food for Caribbean cuisine as well as carving out room for expanded activities in the new year.
The century-old firehouse (1626 North Capitol Street NW) was converted into a restaurant space in 2013. Jenna Mack of Event Emissary, a local events industry vet, is assuming control of the property in order to “open a restaurant I’d love to eat at in a space I’d love to do events in,” she says. She plans to rename the neighborhood eatery Spark at Engine Co. 12.
To fit more people inside, the main floor will lose a brick oven used to make pizza and the second floor bar will be removed. Existing marble features and furniture will disappear to make way for warmer accents like lounge seating and reclaimed wood. Original nineteenth century wood flooring and exposed brick are staying put.
The three-story venue will be able to fit 400, including a 50-seat covered patio.
Old Engine’s existing chef Peter Prime will stay on board and plans to sprinkle more odes to his Trinidadian roots across the smokehouse menu, including fry bread and beef patties. Starters include smoked marrow, avocado beignets, and salmon tartare sliders.
Specialty offerings such as grilled oxtail, jerk brisket, and cumin-spiced pork belly are meant to be shared. The plan is to serve dinner and weekend brunch, nixing lunch for now. And to celebrate its new “Spark” name, Pop Rocks candies and jalapeno peppers will be woven into featured desserts.
The restaurant officially changes hands and its name on Monday, January 1.