Roofers Union, the towering American beer hall and restaurant that opened in 2014 under now-celebrity chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley, will soon end its long lifespan along the 18th Street NW nightlife strip.
General manager Dave Delaplaine, who’s been with the brand since the start, tells Eater “with great sadness” its last day of business will be on Sunday, November 19. Mezcal haven Agave Room, its street-level sibling that replaced 8-year-old wine bar Jug & Table this spring, is also done on that same date (2446 18th Street NW).
Long before Meek-Bradley became the now-corporate chef for superstar restaurateur Stephen Starr’s massive empire and relocated to NYC, she rose to Top Chef finalist fame as the hands-on chef at both Roofers Union and its new American sibling Ripple. (That critically acclaimed Cleveland Park restaurant closed in 2017, and many employees moved over to Roofers Union.) Delaplaine relayed the closure news to both staff and Meek-Bradley this week, who was in town for HRC’s big Chefs for Equality event.
Roofers Union’s American comfort foods menu, now led by executive chef Mario Escamilla, includes favorites like mac and cheese, Sriracha-glazed wings, burrata and squash, brisket-and-sirloin burgers, grilled flat-iron steak, and pan-seared branzino.
“Looking back at our run, I’m very proud of what we did — we set out to really be one of the faces of Adams Morgan,” says Delaplaine.
Roofers Union was a prominent participant of the annual Adams Morgan Day festival, and the 45th edition this September showcased Atlas Brew Works’ special release on tap and limited-edition cans. Roofers Union’s year-round happenings included live music and DJs on weekends, frequent trivia nights, and happy hour featuring $3-off drafts and $5 French onion dip.
Previously home to the legendary, aquarium-filled bar the Reef, the 300-person space with grand windows and a prime people-watching rooftop was one of the biggest bars on the bustling corridor and lent itself well to private events like weddings and office holiday parties.
One of Roofers Union’s most popular industry events was its Ugly Sweater party to benefit Mary’s Center, which got D.C.’s craft brewery scene together while it was still in its infancy.
“We’ll definitely miss being a part of not only the AdMo community but also the beer community. We made strong relationships in that world,” he says.
At its peak, its list of bottled beers ballooned to 100. Look for closing specials over the next few weeks on its vast stockpile of “big, giant beers” that have aged well in its cellar.
“We’ve been saving [them] for a special occasion – and this is it,” he says. That includes Avery Brewing’s nutty stouts and barreled gose from Union Craft.
As for its graffiti-splashed Mexican newcomer Agave Room that never really took off, all above-rail mezcals will be half-off.
“We tried to take the same ‘casual, geeking out’ approach to our beers. But in the end I think we made it too ‘niche’ of a concept; mezcal can be intimidating,” he says.
Springtime was busy across all floors, he says, which signaled strong momentum coming out of the COVID slump. But like a lot of establishments reported around D.C., summer was unexpectedly slow. Potential tenants have been eyeing the soon-to-be available space, he notes, but nothing is figured out as of yet.
“[Roofers Union] has been my baby. I want to see it through to the end and finish out strong and make it an exciting next couple of weeks,” he says.