If first-time restaurateur Chris Svetlik has his way, Republic Kolache fans will be able to wash down Czech pastries with frosty Lone Star beers before the end of the summer.
The co-founder of the mobile bakery that keeps Texans here in the baked goods they most miss from home is still working on finalizing the lineup of featured beverages at the neighborhood eatery he’s installing in Truxton Circle (57 N Street NW). Svetlik tells Eater he’s determined to have some regional favorites flowing at the bar slated to occupy the center of his debut D.C. restaurant, Republic Cantina.
“I’m trying to get Lone Star in here,” he says of the iconic brand he’s hoping will join others — he mentioned highlighting Houston-based Karbach Brewing Company and Austin’s Jester King Brewery as well — on the four tap lines, or among the roster of select bottles and cans he’s assembling right now.
“We’ll certainly do some Shiner,” he says. The rest of the drink list should be rounded out by margaritas, tequila drinks, draft cocktails, seasonal punches, sangrias, and wines.
Getting the required liquor license proved challenging, particularly since the forthcoming restaurant occupies the corner spot of a new 115-unit condo complex currently taking shape in a residential area. “People didn’t know what to expect,” he says of the initial pushback to the all-day eatery. It took some doing — Svetlik is now directly involved with the neighborhood association) — but “we got there,” he says. And he’s excited about putting down roots in the area.
“We’ve spent three years building the Texan base. Now we get the neighborhood,” Svetlik says.
Once finished, Republic Cantina is projected to accommodate just under five dozen customers at a time. Seating will be available inside at the booths and banquettes sprinkled throughout the modest establishment. Svetlik expects to have 20 more seats on the sidewalk patio out front, and 10 seats on the side patio that straddles the adjacent alley.
In addition to offering the rotating kolaches currently featured around town at Hill Country, Reliable Tavern, the Pub & the People, and other local eateries, Svetlik says Republic Cantina will serve: breakfast tacos; traditional breakfast pastries “for those who have not fully bought in on kolache;” gourmet coffee; “molten” quesos (bolstered by pico de gallo, featured meats, and more); enchiladas; fajitas served in sizzling skillets; sopapillas, and more. Svetlik declined to name the opening chef but says to stay tuned.
“This is the greatest food genre of all time, And it’s been lacking in D.C.,” he says of the Tex-Mex cuisine on the way.
One thing he is most excited to showcase: freshly griddled, “light and fluffy” flour tortillas that he insists are unlike any others served in the area. While he’s hoping to make converts out of taco shell purists, Svetlik says Republic Cantina will also serve corn tortillas by request.
Republic Cantina is currently projected to operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays, and from 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends.
Scroll down to see photos of the emerging space: