With their new full-service restaurant, the Velazquez family that owns Georgetown institution Baked & Wired wants to rebuke fussy food. La Betty, which is expected to open in mid-March, will serve multi-cultural American staples in a warm, wood-lined space next-door to sibling spot A Baked Joint in Mount Vernon Triangle.
The idea is to give D.C.’s notoriously transient population a place that replicates the feeling of enjoying a home-cooked meal.
“A big important concept for us is a simple menu and a simple drink menu,” says Tessa Velazquez, who co-owns the businesses with her parents, Teresa and Tony, and her brother, Zak. “Everyone makes so many decisions throughout their day. You don’t have to look through a beer menu that’s three pages long or a menu that’s five pages long or read ingredients you don’t understand.”
Velazquez says la Betty has been under construction for about a year. Eater reported on the project in September, and the family behind the beloved bakery and cafes announced on social media last night that it was opening a restaurant.
The menu is still in development, so Velazquez declined to release any additional information about the dishes that will be served. She did say the restaurant will center around dishes the family likes to eat at home. Teresa Velazquez spearheads the recipe writing, so her German and Irish heritage will play a factor.
“It’s all of her food that she grew up cooking and eating,” Tessa Velazquez says of her mother.
Tony Velazquez is Puerto Rican, but his daughter says there’s nothing “overtly Puerto Rican” on the menu for now. A Baked Joint will provide fresh bread. The group has tabbed Pablo Catalan as chef de cuisine.
As for the name, Tessa Velazquez says the family was trying to capture “this American woman that we can all relate to” rather than any one individual.
The restaurant’s website says, “Betty takes her whiskey neat, always has the best playlist, and whips up one hell of a roast chicken.” Not bad for a phantom amalgamation of homemakers past and present.
As it turns out, Teresa Velazquez did have a great-grandmother named Betty. A picture on the restaurant’s social media channels is of one of Teresa’s grandmothers (not named Betty).
“We just love the picture, so there’s that little personal connection there,” Tessa Velazquez says.
Tony Velazquez, a trained architect, designed a 65-seat space that his daughter promises is “unlike anywhere in D.C.” There’s a wooden dynamic ceiling, custom wood booths, and a communal table made of mahogany. An open kitchen will bring sights, sounds, and smells front and center.
Similar to what Ellē has done in Mount Pleasant, la Betty wants define itself as a neighborhood restaurant first.
“You know that you can eat there two or three times per week and you’re not going to break the bank,” Velazquez says of la Betty. “You’re going to get a good homey meal.”