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Brookland Loses One of Its Three Restaurant Incubators

District Space will close this weekend after two years in the neighborhood

District Space’s Experience Cocktail Club event starred drinks from mixologist Al Thompson.
District Space/Elan Bar
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

District Space, the Brookland restaurant and bar incubator that’s honed some serious talent over the past two years, will close this weekend, owner Elan Bar tells Eater. Barmini mixologist Al Thompson, now crafting cocktails at Hanumanh, and chef Johanna Hellrigl (Doi Moi) both led events in the space.

The Northeast neighborhood is home to lots of venues where restaurants get their start, including the Mess Hall incubator and Tastemakers food hall.

Bar says “a number of factors” contributed to the decision to close District Space (3522 12th Street NE). He’ll continue to work on early-stage ventures in the city through his advisory company, Urban Gastronaut. He’s partnered with with Oyamel alum Christian Irabien in Amparo Fondita, a seafood-heavy Mexican restaurant opening in Union Market district’s incoming La Cosecha market this fall. Bar is also helping seasoned chef and Tail Up Goat alum Robbie Tutlewski find a standalone location for his Little Donna’s pop-up focusing on American wood-fired pizza and handmade pastas.

“I always viewed District Space’s mission as something that transcended a single space,” Bar says. “I’m going to continue to try and facilitate opportunities for D.C.’s bright culinary talents to shine.”

Little Donna’s and Amparo will collaborate on eight a la carte Southwestern specials for District Space’s closing party on Sunday, September 1 (noon to close).

Bar says the modern space’s future use is unclear, noting the landlord is planning on doing some development work on the building that could include adding a level or two.

“Not sure if the plan will be to have a restaurant or other retail,” he says.

A mezcal flight at Amparo.
Christian Irabien/Amparo

Tutlewski, who worked under James Beard Foundation Award-winner Chris Bianco in Phoenix for several years, says he plans to keep doing more pop-ups around the city, including stints at Big Bear Cafe, while he finds a future home for his casual “old school” eatery. Capitol Hill is one neighborhood he’s eyeing.

Along with pizza, he’s planning to serve daily bread, sandwiches baked to order, smoked meats, and lots of salads.