Chain restaurant the Smith, the modern American brasserie that got its start in the East Village in 2007, is nearly ready to open its second D.C. location in an area that’s been missing a large-scale modern dining destination until now.
The new 150-seat restaurant, which joins the flagship Penn Quarter eatery the regional brand planted here last year, is now projected to open the first week of May at 1314 U Street NW. After visiting some of its Manhattan spots — there are four — landlord JBG Smith wooed the Smith to join the glitzy condo building it erected last year.
The new location will dominate the block, with soaring accordion-style doors that’ll give customers a front row seat to all the activity in the historic neighborhood.
“We wanted to bring the energy forward because there’s 80 feet of frontage on U Street,” partner Jeff Lefcourt tells Eater.
The polished design, from Nema Workshop out of NYC and //3877 Architects, largely includes glossy white subway tiling and patterned mosaic flooring.
Newer features at the forthcoming location include massive mirrors facing the main tables to open up the space, and fancy lighting fixtures.
Since the only windows in the space are the ones out front, Lefcourt says the balance of the restaurant sports an “intimate, cozy” vibe.
The menu, being finalized this month, will be “60 to 70 percent” different than the one offered at its local sibling (901 F Street NW). New family-style weekday specials such as sharable fried chicken platters and paellas are in the works, and there’s also an expanded raw bar with more tartare selections and oysters plucked from local farms including Virginia’s White Stone Oyster Company. Expect some cocktails on tap, while others get the slushy summer treatment. The restaurant also plans to produce its own tonic.
“Everything we do with the menu and feel is what the neighborhood wants. If the neighborhood wants to stay open late we will,” he says.
That means a 3 a.m. last call on weekends could happen, he says. But Lefcourt estimates closing time will initially be midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends. The restaurant is projected to serve dinner-only to start, with weekend brunch following about two weeks later. Lefcourt says he hopes to eventually serve brunch seven days a week at the U Street location.