Although she’s currently juggling four new hospitality projects — including riverfront restaurant Hummingbird, which is scheduled to debut in Old Town Alexandria next month — Eat Good Food Group co-founder Meshelle Armstrong is making more work for herself by brainstorming ways to loop them all together.
Armstrong, her husband/Restaurant Eve chef Cathal Armstrong, and Eat Good Food beverage director Todd Thrasher are installing a trio of properties at D.C.’s evolving The Wharf complex, including Asian-themed Kaliwa, Potomac Distilling Company, Thrasher’s rum distillery, and Tiki TNT, Potomac’s companion watering hole. While that development is slated to slowly roll out the welcome mat beginning this fall, the Armstrongs recently leapt at the opportunity to fast-track an all-American establishment within just-opened Hotel Indigo.
Armstrong intends to keep things simple at Hummingbird — “There’s nothing that’s gonna be like, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen this,’” she said of the in-the-works menu, stressing that the focus will be on “comfort foods that people love” — but is enamored with the idea of securing a vessel to ferry clients back and forth from one waterfront to the other. “So from here to Kaliwa ... and then to the distillery and tiki bar, so it’s like a triangle,” she said of the theoretical circuit she’s devising. Whether that involves contracting with a water taxi or charting a self-styled booze cruise has not yet been worked out.
First up: turning the dust-covered hole inside Hotel Indigo into the neighborhood friendly eatery she wants Hummingbird to be.
The centerpiece bar runs the length of the main dining room; Armstrong says she’s carved out room to plant 25 stools along the counter.
A dedicated raw bar sits off to one side.
Armstrong said there’ll be room for six there. She anticipates coupling the seafood station with a rolling bar cart as a package deal for private events.
The window-lined space furthest from the main entrance will serve as the self-described “cocktail area.”
Armstrong plans to tuck four-tops against each of the big bay windows. Patrons who wish to withdraw from the hustle-and-bustle of daily life for a spell can do so by drawing linen curtains. “So you have your own little niche,” she said. There’ll also be a handful of space-saving two-tops built into the opposite wall.
The semi-private Nectar Room is designed to seat 16, but can accommodate more when the doors swing open onto the connected patio.
Armstrong is excited about taking the action outside, listing clambakes and barbecues as top priorities for the summer. She said the sun-splashed breezeway, which also lights up from below at night, provides easy access to the restaurant for those not staying at the hotel.
Armstrong told Eater she plans to petition city officials later on about closing off the section of Strand Street stretching down to neighboring pub Chadwicks to allow for semi-regular block parties.