Master mixologist David Strauss has found a location to resurrect the Sheppard, the popular speakeasy that closed in Dupont Circle nearly a year ago.
Strauss tells Eater he recently secured a 900-square-foot lease in Mount Pleasant for a second-story space above a dentist’s office (3165 Mt. Pleasant Street NW), and he hopes to open it this year. Barred in DC first reported on Sheppard’s expansion to the neighborhood, and Popville followed up with a liquor license placard confirming the address.
When it first opened in 2014, the second-story hideaway at 1337 Connecticut Avenue NW became a word-of-mouth place to sip and step back in time. An old-timey soundtrack, flickering candles, and worn-in wallpaper all created a dark bordello vibe.
Many of those throwback elements will live on inside its new home, Strauss says, including handwritten cocktail menus describing $14 mixed drinks. The color scheme will stay the same, specifically with “red velvet” and “flat VanDyke brown,” he says. The Mount Pleasant iteration will introduce food, with plans to serve small snacks from local partners.
“While it remains similar and recognizable as the Sheppard, it’s also getting a little push and modern streamlining,” Strauss says. “Victorian with an edge, a little cheeky and a little Jack the Ripper-y.”
The bar will remain small (just six seats), along with a few large tables for bigger parties and a cluster of small tables along a long banquette.
Design elements at Sheppard 2.0 will also honor bars where Strauss used to work, like dim-lit speakeasy the Ranstead Room in Philadelphia.
“We’re trying to deliver a utilitarian space with clean lines that nods at the ’20s,” he says.
Dylan Zehr, former head bartender at Sheppard, is now a partner in the business. For now, Zehr is working behind the bars at Columbia Room and Room 11. Zehr also used to stir drinks at Morris American Bar, the cocktail den Strauss opened two years ago in Mt. Vernon Square. Earlier this year, Strauss handed off the bar to business partner Vinoda Basnayake so he could focus all his attention on the Sheppard. Basnayake and chef Spike Mendelsohn were the original founders of the Sheppard.
“It’s been exhilarating to have such a strong response from our fans,” Strauss says, “and more and more I hear people’s personal stories of their experience at my bar, and it means everything to me.”
Mount Pleasant, the growing dining neighborhood that calls critically acclaimed Ellē home, will get another boost in 2020 with the arrival of a Neapolitan-style pizza place under Mount Desert Island Ice Cream. WCP reports the 50-seat subterranean arrival, called Martha Dear, comes from Tail Up Goat alums Tara L. Smith and chef Demetri Mechelis.
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- Spike Mendelsohn’s The Sheppard Will Reopen in Dupont Circle March 15 [EDC]
- The Sheppard Will Stay Open When Morris Debuts [EDC]
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