After spending nearly a decade making money for others in the gourmet coffee and craft cocktail space, cousins Chris Brown and Seth Cook are ready to strike out on their own.
“We knew we wanted to do this,” Cook told Eater of the decision to develop Takoma Beverage Co., the combination coffee shop-bar the aspiring entrepreneurs are working to open in Takoma Park, Md., in the coming weeks.
Both men are familiar with the rigors of keeping drinks flowing at all hours of the day, having previously worked at Northside Social in Arlington, Va. Cook said he helped open the multi-faceted concept created by the powers that be behind flagship restaurant, The Liberty Tavern.
When the time came to create something of their own, Cook said they looked around in Northern Virginia and D.C., but ultimately felt most at home in Takoma Park. “There’s a real traction here,” he said, adding, “It’s dramatically underserved for this type of venue.”
Things got real once the business partners took possession of the former dry cleaner, located at 6917 Laurel Avenue, last fall. “We pretty much had to start from scratch,” Brown said, ticking off a litany of modifications that included installing a grease trap, laying down a whole new floor, updating all the plumbing and electrical work, and installing a new HVAC (which took a beating during the unexpected hail storm that pummeled the area in late April).
Once open, Brown, who plans to serve as general manager, and Cook (coffee director) estimate that total capacity will be pretty modest. Cook mapped out room for eight seats at the bar, plans to park four additional stools along the front window, and imagines having a few high-tops and two-tops opposite the main counter. Once the curbside patio is completed, Brown calculates they’ll be able to accommodate 10 additional guests.
Cook told Eater he’s having having a custom espresso machine built for the restaurant; he said he plans to serve Counter Culture Coffee. The main bar will be carved from a slab of walnut, and is expected to feature 10 draft lines, as well as a full slate of signature cocktails and pour-over coffee service.
“All staff will be fully trained in everything,” Cook said. In lieu of plunking down “$17 on cocktails,” Cook intends to save regulars a few bucks by rolling out $6 Negronis, Manhattans, Martinis, Sazeracs, and the like during “the classic hour” (his take on happy hour).
They’ve tapped Sonja Eberly, another Northside Social alum who’s currently working at a vineyard in New Zealand, to serve as sommelier. Sehkraft Brewing alum Drew Lemberg is the resident beer director.
A front counter will sport a white quartz top and is projected to feature a display case filled with pastries, as well as other impulse buys.
Cook is relying on Souk founder Dr. Winnette Ambrose to supply TBC with sweets, and plans to bring in bread from Junction Bakery & Bistro in Alexandria, Va.
Bar Civita founder and Liberty Tavern alum Liam LaCivita has drafted an opening menu designed to stave off hunger throughout the day.
Breakfast fare includes shakshuka composed of spinach, poached eggs, and feta in tomato-saffron sauce; a bowl filled with chorizo, patatas bravas, sweet peppers, and smoked paprika aioli; and fried pork belly bolstered by maple-sage hot sauce, poached egg, and cheddar sauce. Dinner options range from meatless polpettine in tomato sauce to tartines outfitted with chicken liver parfait and ham, or stewed lentils and pureed eggplant.
Cook and Brown are still grappling with permitting issues , but said they plan to open before the end of May.