Young and Hungry

New Brewpub, The Public Option, Won’t Take Your Tips

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Add one more name to the city’s growing list of brewpubs. Librarian Bill Perry will open a brewpub called The Public Option at 1601 Rhode Island Ave. NE by late summer or early fall.

This brewpub, however, will be a little different from other brewpubs and restaurants around town: The waitstaff won’t accept tips. Instead, Perry says he plans to pay a “living wage” of at least $15 an hour. If anyone leaves money on the table, the staff will decide on a charity to donate it to, either weekly or monthly. The Public Option will have notes on the tables and on its website explaining its policy.

“We are uncomfortable with the dynamic that is created by tipping,” Perry says. “We may end up crashing and burning, but we’re going to give it a try.”

Perry has been a home brewer for more than 20 years and decided to take his passion to a larger scale. The brewpub will have relatively limited production, with one to five barrels of production capacity. (One barrel is about two kegs.) Perry says he plans to brew a fairly wide variety of beers that will regularly change. Beers from other breweries will be on tap as well.

The menu will emphasize locally sourced food and plenty of vegetarian options, including salads, soups, and flatbreads. Perry is talking with some “up and coming” chefs but nothing is finalized yet. With the beer and the food, The Public Option plans to start with limited offerings and test out what the community is most interested in.

The Public Option is among the restaurants to receive a Great Streets Grant from D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. The grant program is meant to grow and support small businesses in underdeveloped neighborhoods, while adding new jobs. Perry will use the $85,000 on plumbing repairs, repaving for an outdoor cafe, and kitchen equipment.

The building has two stories, but Perry says he’ll just open the ground floor to start. Between the outdoor patio and the inside dining room, there will be about 80 seats. Perry says it will have “casual” decor.

The name of the brewpub is a play on "public house" as well as "public option as opposed to the private option of just eating at home," Perry says. And perhaps most importantly: "People might be able to remember it."

Image via Google Maps