Restaurateur Aaron Gordon (Red Velvet Cupcakery, Bakers & Baristas) went to great lengths to get the perfect artist to design the logo for casual neighborhood newcomer Little Beast, now open in Chevy Chase.
After tracking down chosen graffiti artist Kim Köster online, Gordon flew him all the way from Berlin — his first trip to the U.S. — to spray paint the indoor-outdoor space (5600 Connecticut Avenue NW) with colorful animated creatures.
“We think he nailed it,” says Aaron Gordon, adding the name refers to his children, ages one and three. “They are cute as can be but they are definitely beasts.”
Little Beast, which aims to lure the area’s big population of young couples and their kids via cocktails, wine, and wood-fired pizzas and roasted vegetables, is a joint project with Gordon’s dad, Robert, a former ANC chairman and longtime D.C. resident. The restaurant, open daily at 4 p.m., will be joined by a daytime cafe component later this month.
“I’ve loved wood-fired cooking a long time now,” he says. “Originally we were more focused on the coffee shop and bakery side because of our success there, but we said we need different kinds of chefs.”
Executive chef Nicholas Martino, most recently chef de cuisine at Tredici Enoteca, is also making house-cured and smoked bacon, house-made sausage, smoked pork and chicken for the menu, as well as mini pizzas and buttered noodles for kids.
When the cafe and bakery portion debuts in mid-October, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, expect house-baked pastries, Red Velvet Cupcakery cupcakes, quiches, and egg sandwiches on brioche, as well as locally-roasted coffee from Vigilante. Desserts and pastries come from pastry chef Naomi Gallego (Blue Duck Tavern, Le Diplomate).
Last year Gordon moved back to the Chevy Chase neighborhood — where he grew up 40 years ago, when he was just a toddler himself. He noticed the area is underserved when it comes to “an equal amount of activities and restaurants and coffee shops to come to,” he says. Gordon says aside from nearby cafe Little Red Fox, there are few daytime destinations.
This year, the strip got a much-needed nightlife spot with the addition of The Avenue, a 6,000-square-foot bar and restaurant from Tim Walsh (Sixth Engine and Town Hall).
Gordon says the “huge” design challenge was creating a space that doubles as a coffee house and bakery by day and restaurant with a lively bar at night. Gordon also owns dessert bar Red Light in Logan Circle, and he took the visiting artist there for inspiration.
“I wanted to go away from what has overwhelmed the city, frankly, which is that industrial kind of look,” he says. “I wanted something a little modern but the same time a little rustic.”
Sleek countertops and tiles, juxtaposed to reclaimed wood, helped create a “warm and friendly” neighborhood bar — with a “slightly elevated” look to it, he says.
The outdoor bar — expected to stay open eight months of the year — was designed with adults in mind, aiming to bring a downtown or 14th Street NW vibe to the neighborhood. Little Beast’s general manager, Ralph Lee, hails from those nighttime areas of the city — as partner and general manager at Ghibellina and manager at Rare.
Hours are 4 p.m. up to 11 p.m. during the week and 4 p.m. up to 1 a.m. on weekends. Scroll on for a look inside the whimsical space: