The owner of Eighteenth Street Lounge, the locally treasured Dupont Circle club that closed last summer after 25 years of business, has signed a longterm lease to revive the D.C. nightlife favorite in Shaw’s Blagden Alley. Farid Nouri tells Eater he finalized the deal today.
The two-level, 5,000-square-foot space at 1230 Ninth Street NW is about half the size of the original. Like the original location, the pared-down replacement will sport a rooftop deck, have a bar on each level, and will be capable of hosting multiple live acts at once. That will include past resident DJs and an eclectic mix of jazz, funk, reggae, and Latin bands that helped ESL develop its reputation. Nouri expects to open in the new space in four to six months.
The smaller size “is easily manageable and perfect for post-COVID [conditions],” Nouri says. With a main entrance on Ninth Street NW, ESL’s place in a neighborhood full of residential properties with a high concentration of bars and restaurants appealed to him. Nouri says he also considered the Union Market district. Valerie Mnayarji of Monument Retail represented ESL in the Blagden Alley deal.
The club space, vacant for almost two years, used to house 1230 Restaurant, a French-American eatery with a Champagne lounge and cocktail bar. Unlike its original location, the new ESL will have a food component, Nouri says, although plans in that department are yet to be determined.
“The idea is to prep onsite but outsource to either one of the neighbors or look into up-and-coming women [and] minority local chefs,” Nouri says.
While Nouri is planning ESL’s comeback, he’s also challenging a competing hospitality group’s use of a similar name while it prepares to move into the building that Eighteenth Street Lounge vacated. A new company called Babylon Group plans to open “The Lounge” there this summer. In a cease-and-desist letter, Nouri has accused the Lounge of stealing ESL’s identity and confusing the general public by inferring a connection to his club.
Nouri opted to close Eighteenth Street Lounge last June permanently because public safety restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic had kept it closed, and he could not come to terms with the landlord, Douglas Development, on a 5-year lease renewal.