Young and Hungry

Pop’s SeaBar Offers Free Beer for Life for $1,000

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If you're not rich, it's not so easy to legally invest in restaurants. So here's the next best thing: Pop's SeaBar is now offering "Free Beer for Life Memberships" for $1,000.

As the Adams Morgan seafood spot was preparing to open, co-owner Justin Abad says he and business partner/chef John Manolatos had so many friends and regulars from their other restaurant Cashion's Eat Place who wanted to support and be involved in the place. But not everyone has the cash to throw down tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for an equity stake. "I said, 'Well, how can we do it where they really feel a sense of ownership?'" Abad says. "And frankly, it will be very good for business if we can get them to continue to feel a part of it."

Before they even signed the lease, Abad read about a Minnesota brewpub that similarly offered free beer for life for $1,000. The brewpub had tried to find traditional investors for the $220,000 it needed to open, but it backed away from those investors, who had no restaurant experience, because they wanted a voting share in the business. Instead, they funded the entire place through free beer memberships. "They were really successful in doing it," Abad says. And the supporters didn't drink them dry.

Pop's is offering only 20 memberships, which will be available through the end of November. Already, three people have bought them. (Visit freebeer.popsseabar.com/free-beer-for-life to join them.)

These VIP members will get cards with their names that they present every time they visit Pop's. While members can't buy their friends beers, there's no limit to the number of beers they can drink. "If you want to sit down and crush 10, go ahead," Abad says. The deal lasts the life of the business and includes all draft and can beers (including the radlers) plus Prosecco on tap.

If you're wondering about the math on this, the most expensive beer at Pop's is $8 (most, however, are $6), so you'd have to drink 125 of those to break even on the investment. That's around three beers a week during the course of a year.

Abad is not concerned about losing money on the deal, especially because he anticipates people will order food and bring friends. "I ran the numbers, and sure it impacts our bottom line a little bit," he says. "But I think that most valuable thing really is the good will."

Photo via Pop's SeaBar

How Marvin Was Haunted by a Prostitute Named Peaches

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When Marvin first opened up at 14th and U streets NW in 2007, the staff would often hear noises and feel a strange presence.

"I would be the only person in the building late at night, and there would be footsteps coming up the stairs," says Sheldon Scott, the general manager at the time. "I was like, 'Hello?' And obviously there's nobody there. And this happened on more than one occasion." At the same time, he would always feel this "weird cosmic energy" in the same spot halfway up the stairs. "But I never felt threatened," Scott says. "It didn't seem to be a bad spirit."

One day, a construction worker who'd lived in the neighborhood for a long time offered an explanation: the ghost of a prostitute who'd once lived there. "She was the only professional woman without 'professional representation,'" Scott recounts. "So one day the pimps got together and supposedly burned her out of here, and she died. She died in this building. And her name was Peaches." Read more How Marvin Was Haunted by a Prostitute Named Peaches

The Washington Firehouse Restaurant Is Finally Open

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Aside from the fire pole in the middle of the restaurant and photos of fire engines adorning the walls, you might not be able to tell from the inside that the Washington Firehouse Restaurant was, in fact, once a functioning fire station.

“We don’t want to be super cheesy,” says Catering and Events Manager Jessica Henderson. “But it was a firehouse, so we really just want to keep that authentic, rustic feel.”

The Old Engine Company 12 firehouse, established in 1897, ceased operation in 1992 and was out of commission until the restaurant purchased the building three years ago. Since then, the team—led by the owners of Shaw’s Tavern—have worked to renovate the building, enduring multiple hurdles and setbacks that delayed the opening several months until Oct. 17.

Members of the New Engine Company 12 arrived at the opening with a fire truck and donated several of the original photos that hang on the walls. "The firefighters have been really supportive of this whole project,” says Henderson. “It’s because of them that we have this...We took their home, [but] we tried to keep as much of the building as we could.” Read more The Washington Firehouse Restaurant Is Finally Open

The D.C. Area’s Most Absurd Cocktails

Bartenders have a knack for one-upping each other with weirder, more ridiculous drinking gimmicks. Blame it on all that booze, but it seems no ingredient or concept is off limits. We’ve rated these trends on a scale of quirky to utterly absurd, represented by the number of curly bartender mustaches. (More mustaches equals more ridiculous.)

Lip Balm Pairings

Where: Trummer’s on Main, 7134 Main St., Clifton, Va.

Huh? Homemade lip balms are paired with cocktails to enhance the flavors. Current pairings include a strawberry cocktail with basil lip balm and the Hemingway cocktail with mint lip balm.

Rating: mustachemustachemustachemustachemustache Read more The D.C. Area’s Most Absurd Cocktails

The ’Wiching Hour: Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.’s Adobo Lamb Biscuit

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The Sandwich: Adobo lamb biscuit

Where: Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. (stay tuned for pop-ups and permanent location)

Price: $9

Bread: Buttermilk biscuit

Stuffings: Roasted shredded lamb, fried egg, jalapeño chimichurri

Thickness: 4.5 inches

Pros: The toasted biscuit is fluffy on the inside, with a nice, crumbly crust. For a dose of heat and acidity, the pucker-inducing jalapeño sauce saturates the contents and fights the richness of the heavy egg-and-meat combination. Read more The ’Wiching Hour: Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.’s Adobo Lamb Biscuit

A New Restaurant Crowdfunding Platform Offers Profits, Not Just Perks

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For four years, Brittany Frick and Greg Kakaletris have talked about opening a seafood restaurant of their own. Inspired by a more than 100-year-old San Francisco institution called Swan Oyster Depot, they envisioned a small counter spot where the people cooking the food are also the ones serving it. Guests would sit on stools and chow down on smoked mussels, charred octopus salad, oysters, crudos, and other seafood dishes. They named it after a type of fisherman’s knot: Albright Special.

Kakaletris brings 10 years of front-of-house and bar experience at places like Estadio and 2 Birds 1 Stone, while Frick is former chef de cuisine at Doi Moi and executive pastry chef at Estadio. But finding a way to fund the restaurant hasn’t been easy. Neither has many deep-pocketed connections that could bankroll the more than nearly half-million dollars they need.

“It’s very difficult to ask somebody for this amount of money and say, ‘Just trust me,’” Kakaletris says.

Then Johann Moonesinghe, one of their regulars at Estadio who became a friend, told them in August he would be launching a crowdfunding platform called EquityEats, which connects wannabe restaurateurs and investors. Unlike other crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, EquityEats allows people to earn profits, not just perks. It also provides bookkeeping and other business support for the restaurants.

“There’s so many creative people out there, but they fail because they don’t know how to manage payroll and income and all that stuff,” Kakaletris says. “EquityEats helps those people with that to allow them to just be this creative force.”

EquityEats officially launched Monday with four offerings, including Albright Special, a bakery, a lobster and burger joint, and a seasonally focused American restaurant. The platform aims to capitalize on the growing interest in restaurant investing, which has helped D.C.’s dining scene boom, and make it easier for entrepreneurs without rich uncles or millionaire friends to fund their ideas. For investors, it’s an easy way to find out about restaurants seeking funding without having to worry about how to structure an investment deal, and it lets them track their potential return online. Of course, the idea sounds good in concept, but it’s so new that no one knows whether EquityEats can bring in enough big bucks (one of the restaurants is seeking nearly $1 million) or whether its restaurants will return the profits they project. But if it’s successful, the platform has the potential to greatly influence what kind of restaurants are able to open in D.C. and how they get there. Read more A New Restaurant Crowdfunding Platform Offers Profits, Not Just Perks

Last Night’s Leftovers: Almost Halloween Edition

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Where to find restaurant Halloween specials and parties [Washingtonian]

Thanksgiving menus and to-go options [Post]

Wild Wings opens at Euclid and Georgia Ave. NW. [PoPville]

Five big chef changes you should know about [Zagat]

Halloween punch recipes from Gina Chersevani [Express]

Monsanto hired this guy to help win over millennials. [NPR]

Chinese and Thai restaurant Lucky Pot opens in Courthouse. [ARLnow]

Photo via Shutterstock

Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. Leaves EatsPlace

Less than three weeks into its three-month residency at EatsPlace, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. is parting ways with the Park View "pop-uppery." The biscuit maker wrote on Facebook that it would be "refocusing our business on our brick and mortar," although it has not yet locked down a location.

"Mason Dixie grew a lot in the time span it took to open up at EatsPlace. I think we kind of grew out of that business model," co-owner Ayeshah Abuelhiga tells Y&H. At the time they signed on to EatsPlace, she and her partners, Mo Cherry and Jason Gehring, had no idea the volume of interest they would receive or that they would win the LaunchPad competition from food incubator Mess Hall that sent even more resources their way. The rush of support made them realize they needed to "shift into high gear."

Meanwhile, Mason Dixie was only open weekdays at EatsPlace, and fans were asking for them on weekends. (EatsPlace's other pop-up, D.C. Born & Raised, uses the space to serve brunch on weekends.) While the business was making profits, it wasn't getting the margins it needed, in large part because of the limited daytime foot traffic on weekdays. EatsPlace also decided to close on Mondays beginning this week. Read more Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. Leaves EatsPlace

Pimp My Restaurant: El Camino Brings East L.A. to Bloomingdale

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An East L.A. apartment inhabited by a young Chicano gangster and his grandmother is the design inspiration for El Camino, a Mexican restaurant from the owners of 1905, which opens in Bloomingdale next month. Crushed red velvet tufted booths mimicking the insides of a tricked-out ride and concrete blocks are contrasted with a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe and vintage plates. Light fixtures made of steering wheels illuminate a shrine-like U-shaped bar and, eventually, a mural inspired by brightly patterned oilcloth grocery bags.

"It's a little subconscious," says designer Lauren Winter of Edit Lab at Streetsense. "It's not directly in your face." (The design firm is also responsible for nearby Red Hen and Boundary Stone.) Read more Pimp My Restaurant: El Camino Brings East L.A. to Bloomingdale

Barter Bar Stools for Beers at New Shaw Pub Lost & Found

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Pretty much everything at Shaw bar Lost & Found is literally lost and found. Rusty license plates, a random collection of vinyl, old street signs, and forgotten black and white photos have all been recycled to help decorate the place. "It was either going to be Lost & Found or Bulk Trash," says co-owner Geoff Dawson, who also operates Buffalo Billiards, Iron Horse Taproom, Nanny O'Brien's, and other bars.

But Dawson and co-owner Brian Leonard don't just want their junk; they want your junk. So when the bar opens later this week (if final inspections go as planned), patrons will be able to bring in things like bar stools, yard sticks, records, or old class photos from Woodrow Wilson High School (Dawson's alma mater) and trade them for free drink tickets.

"We're going to have sort of a call to action board," Dawson says. "We're going to look for things as we decide we need them and put it up on the board. And if you're sitting here and you go, 'I've got one of those,' bring it in and trade, and we'll have an established price for it."

The bar has a whole set of brand new bar stools right now, but eventually, Dawson would like to move them to another bar and completely replace them with bartered seats. "We'd like to have a night where we have a guy like the Antiques Roadshow guy be like, 'Your bar stool is worth seven drink tickets!'" he says. "And then you can come in and say, 'That's my seat.'" Read more Barter Bar Stools for Beers at New Shaw Pub Lost & Found

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