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Thomas Circle’s Pappe Packs In Design Details All the Way From India

The colorful restaurant hopes to open next month

Pappe co-owners Sanjay Mandhaiya and Vipul Kapila with designer Melissa Funkey in front of a new painting by local artist John DeNapoli.
Annie Plotkin/Savor PR
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Neighborhood eatery Pappe is inching closer towards bringing traditional Northern Indian fare to the south end of the 14th Street corridor, with a modern-meets-authentic look that mimics a bustling fabric market found on the other side of the globe.

The 85-seat newcomer (1317 14th Street NW), shooting for a June opening, comes from hospitality vets Sanjay Mandhaiya and Shankar Puthran (both chefs at Saffron in Falls Church, Virginia) and first-time restaurateur Vipul Kapila.

They’ve engaged local designer John DeNapoli, who’s behind Columbia Room’s elaborate bar mural, to add artistic touches — including outdoor mosaic signage and other Indian-inspired drawings throughout. And plenty of authentic accents have made the trek from India to augment Pappe, including mirrors, serving trays, and glassware.

Kapila, who runs an IT company, has been a frequent customer at Saffron and became a fan of the chefs’ vindaloo there. Pappe, a term of affection that loosely means “brother” in Punjabi, is an ode to the trio’s friendship.

Menu offerings in the works include chicken tikka masala, junglee laal maas (bone in goat with garlic tomato chutney and red curry), and spicy vindaloo, with some Southern Indian seafood options sprinkled in. The bar, positioned in the center of the rectangular-shaped restaurant, will push out fresh lime soda with Himalayan salt, mango lassis, cocktails, and several beers on tap.

Designer Melissa Funkey is drawing upon inspiration from trips to New Delhi’s silk markets to add bright, textured, and decorative details “without trying too hard,” she tells Eater.

Scroll on to peek inside Pappe’s progress so far:

Designer John DeNapoli is putting a D.C. spin on more vintage photos like this one as art for Pappe.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
A mirror that successfully made it back from India in a suitcase will hang in the tile-covered bathroom at Pappe.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
This “cutting chai” set — what roadside vendors in Bombay serve tea in — sit atop colorful trays also sourced from India. They’ll likely serve samples at Pappe.
Annie Plotkin/Savor PR
The original brick walls are retained across the space, with fabric dye baskets acting as lighting fixtures. Draped silk fabrics double as decor.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
This outside mosaic signage by designer John DeNapoli is modeled after patterns found at a historic fort in Delhi.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
Vintage scores like this cabinet from Second Chance in Baltimore are adding worn-in touches to Pappe.
Tierney Plumb/Eater DC
Brown leather banquettes are found across the space, which features soaring exposed ceilings.
Anne Plotkin/Savor PR