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Casual Neighborhood Bistro Little Beast Plans to Expand to Penn Quarter

The Chevy Chase restaurant is close to signing a lease on Seventh Street NW

Whipped ricotta from Little Beast with olive oil, honey, rosemary, hazelnut, and flatbread.
Whipped ricotta from Little Beast with olive oil, honey, rosemary, hazelnut, and flatbread.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Restaurateur Aaron Gordon hopes to open a Penn Quarter location of Little Beast, the family-centric restaurant that serves pasta, pizza, and braised short ribs in Chevy Chase, by late spring.

Gordon says he’s in the process of finalizing a lease for a 3,000-square-foot space on Seventh Street NW. Little Beast Penn Quarter will have a 100-seat setup that includes a counter-service component. Brunch will run daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with dishes that have become weekend staples in Chevy Chase: huevos rancheros, ricotta pancakes, and an egg sandwich built out of croissants baked on-site.

The original Little Beast opened in October 2018, granting a sleepy strip of Connecticut Avenue NW a playful place lined with monster murals created by a Berlin-based graffiti artist. Gordon says he wants to add at least one colorful creature inside the incoming restaurant, but it won’t be quite as “whimsical” or kid-friendly as the branch in upper Northwest.

From 4 p.m. to close the space will flip into a sit-down destination for Little Beast’s salads, pizzas, pastas, and entrees. Along with a 12-seat patio, Little Beast will feature a “nice neighborhood bar” that Gordon thinks Penn Quarter is missing.

“There’s lots of bars, but many are upscale and expensive,” he says.

Spicy lamb ragu ($19) with orecchiette, baby kale, bread crumbs, and pecorino at Little Beast
Spicy lamb ragu with orecchiette, baby kale, bread crumbs, and pecorino at Little Beast
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

Back in Chevy Chase, Little Beast is bringing back a cafe component starting on Friday, January 10. The restaurant will open daily at 7 a.m. and serve coffee and pastries until 3 p.m. Little Beast’s dinnertime hours will still kick off at 5 p.m., and brunch will still be reserved for weekends.

Gordon is shaking up other parts of his portfolio, too, closing Roman pizza experiment Vivi just a few months after putting it inside Bakers & Baristas. Gordon plans to shutter the location, which includes adjoining Red Velvet Cupcakery, at 501 Seventh Street NW on Friday, January 3.

He says he’s close to finalizing a lease for a new site to relocate the cafe and cupcake shop nearby. The space is a little smaller — 1,300 vs. 2,000 square feet now — so there won’t be room to make pizza. Gordon wouldn’t give a specific address because the deal hasn’t closed, but he says it will be near Zaytinya.

The decision to move came after an “outrageous” rent spike; Gordon says his rent more than doubled when he renewed his 10-year lease in January.

The hope is to open by Valentine’s Day — Red Velvet’s biggest business day of the year. He says rent at the new 20-seat space will be a whopping 80-percent cheaper. The space is pretty much turnkey ready for his cupcakes, coffee, and pastry shop to slide in, but he says he’ll oversee a “heavy makeover.”

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