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Team Takoda Will Bring the Wharf Its First Wine Bar — and Biggest Patio Yet

Easy Company opens this summer with carafes of wine on draft, frosé, truffle fries, and European vibes

Generic pouring wine into a glass, 13 September 2005. AFR Picture by LOUIE DOU Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

This summer, a fountain-framed morsel of D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront will transform into an airy new gathering spot for carafes, charcuterie, and other wine-friendly snacks.

Easy Company (98 Blair Alley SW) comes from Better Hospitality Group (BHG), the expansion-minded team behind Shaw’s Takoda Restaurant & Beer Garden and Cortez and Penn Quarter’s Boardwalk Bar & Arcade. Twice-as-large editions of Takoda and Boardwalk are en route to Navy Yard and the Wharf, respectively, this year.

The brand’s debut wine bar, scheduled to pop by the Fourth of July, will star an all-draft list of rotating red, white, prosecco, rosé, and sangria, available by the glass, half carafe, or carafe. An extensive by-the-bottle list, including large-format options like 750-ml. bottles and magnums, will also be in the mix. An all-draft cocktail list will loop in BHG’s best sellers, like Takoda’s mule, Boardwalk’s mojito, Cortez’s margarita, and frosé.

The 5,000-square-foot restaurant will sport a 1,500-square-foot patio, which BHG founder Ryan Seelbach claims will be the biggest on the Wharf. The patio, called “Rosé Garden,” should intentionally ring a bell.

“This is an ‘homage’ to my closest friend in the hospitality industry, Dave Wiseman,” he says. Wiseman (Little Sesame) ran Navy Yard’s now-closed raw bar Whaley’s, complete with a popular Rosé Garden out front, and gave Seelbach the blessing to carry on the brand at the Wharf.

Easy Company’s name itself speaks to its “approachable and easy-to-understand menu,” as well as the fact that “good friends and good wine make easy company,” says Seelbach.

The new waterfront venture aims to replicate the open-air vibe of piazzas, or casual gathering spots in Europe where wine flows like water.

“My two favorite regions in the world are the South of France and Tuscany,” says Seelbach, who has deep connections to each.

He spent one idyllic summer in college on a grape farm in Tuscany’s small town of Vicchio. He also got married in the romantic French village of Saint-Cezaire-sur-Siagne, where his wife’s family has owned a home since the late 1960s.

The existing storefront will be demolished to make way for an operable, glass-enclosed patio, which will open up the interior to the Wharf’s stone-lined plaza its bubbling Blair Fountain.

A stone plaza overlooking the water.
Easy Company will transform the Wharf’s waterfront plaza into a European-styled drinking destination.
Leo Lee/official

BHG executive chef Julio Estrada will send out a list of drinking snacks, small plates, and heartier entrees like steak frites and a lamb shank. The menu will kick off with charcuterie, crab and artichoke dip, beet and burrata salads, and truffle fries, joined by a grilled cheese or BLT on toasted white challah bread, spicy Italian sausage-topped flatbread, and a croque monsieur. Also look for BHG’s beloved burger and bottomless brunch with Belgian waffles and egg scrambles like mushroom friscassee.

A 14-beer draft list will go heavy on European labels like Peroni, Kronenburg 1664, and Stella, along with a handful of domestic favorites. Weekday happy hour will feature $8 wines, $7 beers, and a $9 split of Fernet and Campari, better known as a “Ferrari.”

Bolstering outdoor seating is key for Covid-19 times, he says, but the open-air aspect is also commonplace in Europe. Wine bars in Italy and France are typically affordable, bright and airy by design, and centered around communal seating and wines by the carafe.

“Quite frankly, they have the complete opposite vibe of the ‘romantic and moody’ wine bars in the U.S.,” he says.

A facade of Easy Company in front of a stone-lined plaza and fountain.
Easy Company’s facade (left) will open up to a year-round patio with operable sides, heaters, and fans.
Leo Lee/official photo

Easy Company’s soaring 18-foot interior will also offer a mix of two-top tables and communal seating arrangements.

Despite obvious challenges posed by the pandemic, BHG continues to remain bullish on the D.C. market. Between Easy Company, Takoda, and Boardwalk, the brand will add 22,000 square feet to its portfolio this year.

“These three real estate opportunities were far too good to pass up, as I view all three spaces as ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunities,” he says.

Easy Company’s architect is //3877, the prolific design group behind Takoda’s new Navy Yard location and an array of existing projects on the Wharf (The Grill, Bistro du Jour).

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