Six months after making its H Street debut, cocktail bar Ella Grace is already on its last legs. First-time restaurant owner Mark Abraham tells Eater he plans to close the two-level venue in the former Pursuit Wine Bar space (1421 H Street NE) by April.
The bar is already for sale, and Abraham says his asking price ($100,000) is low considering that a coveted liquor license is included. He plans to include all the luxurious decor and furniture he inherited from his stylish South Beach grandma in a potential handoff.
Abraham’s main reason for closing the bar is because he has to relocate to Los Angeles for his law enforcement job. It also didn’t help that managing partner Bryce Heyn, who formerly stirred drinks at cozy Shaw cocktail den 600 T, departed this month. His brother, opening chef Jacob Heyn, is still on board.
For its last hurrah, the bar will up the party vibe to go out with a bang, serving more shots, bottled beers, and batched cocktails to keep orders flowing faster. Expect ’90s music like Nelly and Ludacris playing all night.
“We are turning it into the classiest dive bar in D.C.,” says Abraham, a D.C. native and Army vet.
“[We have] great cocktails, but it’s not practical on a slammed Friday and Saturday,” he says.
Ella Grace was originally a cafe by day, but Abraham switched to nights only a few months ago.
“We were six months to a year ahead of the curve,” he says, noting the neighborhood will soon grow with the addition of new apartment complexes. Anticipated Indian-influenced cocktail bar Daru is gearing up for a spring debut nearby.
Before cooking up a short menu for Ella Grace, Heyn made pastries at Del Mar, Fabio Trabocchi’s acclaimed Spanish place on the Wharf. Highlights included meatballs with goat cheese and dried currants; a bowl of Japanese Koshihikari rice, kimchi, egg, and imported, barrel-aged Iwashi fish sauce; and black sesame chiffon cake.
Ella Grace had a short-lived stint on M Street NW a year ago before looking for a permanent home. Abraham and his partners took over the space in early August, soon after Pursuit left (the wine bar relocated last fall a few blocks West).
The bar is open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight. Sporadic industry nights on Mondays include half-priced wines and $5 beers. Abraham says a month-to-month lease is $5,300.
“It’s just how much [more] do we invest to keep it going ... if I’m stuck in L.A. and no one is running it? I hope someone buys it and keeps it the way it is,” he says.
Here’s a look at its closing menu: