U Street corridor staple Vinoteca is closing this Sunday after 12 years of business but will eventually reopen as a new operation under the same ownership. Since Washingtonian broke the news yesterday, owner Paul Carlson says he’s received an outpouring of messages from longtime customers who are coming out of the woodwork and promising one last visit.
Carlson says he’s heard from people who met their spouses at the oyster-shell bocce court in Vinoteca’s outdoor plaza bar. One fan who now lives in the Midwest told Carlson he’s looking for flights just to have one final bottomless brunch (with $21 free-flowing mimosas) this weekend.
Vinoteca is closed today, and will host its last flamenco show tomorrow. Normal hours and happy hour will run the rest of the week, capping off with a bottomless weekend brunch Saturday and Sunday. He plans to extend hours during its finale night until all drinks and food are gone.
“I think with the outcry we’ve gotten from people it’ll be a busy weekend,” Carlson says. “Vinoteca is very special to a lot of us and this week our concentration is to give it a proper send-off.”
The 4,000-square-foot neighborhood mainstay, known for its charcuterie and cheese spreads, flatbreads, and happy hour, was hooking D.C. drinkers on rosé way before the pink drink was trending. In 2016, Vinoteca’s sommelier and avid rosé fan Kate Chrisman was offering a dozen varieties by the glass — one of the most extensive selections in the area at the time.
In two months, Carlson plans to flip the space into a new restaurant that vows to maintain a strong wine program.
“A business is like a living, breathing thing — it’s ran its course and we are truly in a competitive market. To remain competitive it’s time to start a new chapter and evolve,” Carlson says.
He says he’s in the final stages of financing in order to flesh out the new project’s identity, clarifying that it won’t be a Vinoteca 2.0. Along with a revamped look and menu, he plans to continue to capitalize on the cozy, brick-lined space’s “great bones,” outdoor garden, and location (1940 11th Street NW) in a busy area for nightlife.
Carlson also owns the Royal in LeDroit Park. He says the next incarnation of Vinoteca will “build off what we have in our arsenal” at the Bib Gourmand pick known for coffee, cocktails, biscuits, and arepas.
“It’s a fantastic team, service style, and food and beverage program. We are taking all that momentum and applying it to this project,” Carlson says. The new business, however, won’t adopt the Royal’s all-day hours.