The partners behind trend-setting Timber Pizza Co. and Call Your Mother deli have recruited another couple to help them develop their next culinary experiment, a dual-purpose cafe and restaurant that riffs on South American cooking.
Daniela Moreira and fiancé Andrew Dana, a pair that has won national acclaim for Neapolitan-style pies packed with farmers market produce and wood-fired bagels that incorporate seasonal jams and potato chips, will join forces with former Doi Moi and Proof chef Johanna Hellrigl and her cocktail concocting husband, Micah Wilder, to open the all-day cafe in the West End.
Named after a Marvin Gaye song, Mercy Me is expected to open early next year at 1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW. Washington City Paper first reported news of the collaboration.
Dana tells Eater that he and Moreira were intrigued by the idea of restaurants that serve one purpose during the day and transform into another at night. He says he and Moreira encountered restaurants like that during trips to Austin and Los Angeles, but he hasn’t seen many in D.C. — Ellē and the Royal are two good examples. At Doi Moi, Hellrigl had a daytime sandwich and smoothie bowl menu under the Birds Eye banner before switching to a full dinner menu at night.
Menu details are scarce for now, but Dana says customers can expect the space to move from breakfast fare like bagels and pancakes into a different vibe for dinner, when Wilder (Chaplin’s, Zeppelin) will have a cocktail menu. He says the couples have been friendly, but an “epic” Italian meal that Hellrigl cooked for a dinner party made him want to go into business with her.
“Johanna and Dani are in the lab coming up with some cool stuff together,” Dana says. “The power of those two putting their heads together for food is pretty awesome.”
Dana says Hellrigl will be the executive chef “sort of driving the ship,” but “we want this to be super collaborative and sort of all feel like we’re doing a little bit of everything.”
Moreira, an Eater Young Gun (‘17), is from Argentina. She’s showcased her heritage to customers with empanadas at Timber and black-and-white alfajores at Call Your Mother.
Hellrigl, who explored various Southeast Asian cuisines at Doi Moi, tells WCP that she’s traveled extensively throughout South America while working for a democracy building organization. She left Doi Moi at the start of October, telling Eater that she had already found another job.
- Mercy Me, a ‘Sorta South American’ Dining Mecca, Is Coming to West End [WCP]
- Southeast Asian Standby Doi Moi Loses Another Chef This Week [EDC]
- D.C.’s Call Your Mother Deli Is One of Eater’s Best New Restaurants in America [EDC]
- Daniela Moreira Took Pizza From Sibling Rivalry to One of D.C.’s Best Neighborhood Restaurants [E]