The Date is Set: Oliver Friendly’s New Restaurant is Coming!

As you may remember, back in February, the Insider posted about Eat & Smile coming to 2212 Rhode Island Ave NE (old VFW Hall). Well, it’s been a while since we checked in with Eat & Smile’s owner, Oliver Friendly, about where the plans are for his new restaurant, La Table DC, and when we can expect to start making reservations. First, as for location, here is a good reminder for folks. Anchored by Lace on the Avenue and Medtaris Rehabilitation, La Table DC will be in a prime location on the Avenue:

Now that you know where the restaurant will be, now let’s talk particulars.

According to Oliver Friendly, the hold up on construction and opening has been with the DC government’s permit process. What has normally taken restaurants on average 8-9 weeks for approvals from the Health Department and others is taking Mr. Friendly around 16 weeks. He doesn’t know why but the hold up from the Health Department is now over… he received his approval this week. Hold on, though. He now needs to go back to all of the other departments and make them aware of the changes that the Health Department has required (i.e. not having a combined kitchen/dining area — a la Rogue 24, for those that have been there, and other changes). So we could be looking at another 1-2 weeks for this to happen.

Construction will most likely begin soon after on the interior and exterior. Oliver is expecting the exterior construction to take approximately 8 to 10 weeks (and anyone who has dealt with contractors — round up when talking time frames, not down). All in all, when is he opening his restaurant, you ask?

The goal is January 2013. As you may recall from the earlier post on this restaurant, there are no immediate plans for a full schedule. Oliver is planning a soft opening for the first four to five months and that will only be three days a week (most likely a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday combination) and it will have limited seating. The thought behind his restaurant is to have it more like a tasting menu restaurant with (hard to get) reservations on the limited seating and courses that will range from 8-12-14 servings. The menu will be set, so beware picky eaters. The price range will be from $45-$75 per person and alcohol pairings will be an additional $35-$50. The alcohol may be up in the air as Oliver is not planning on applying yet for a liquor license right off the bat but laws on the kind of restaurant he has may allow him to serve without one. This style of restaurant is in line with Oliver’s current business model for La Table DC, which is a popup style restaurant and he also owns his own catering business, which is his main revenue stream, called Eat and Smile.

Oliver Friendly is a fourth generation Washingtonian and has lived in the local community for over 3 years. It is great that he is bringing his talents as a chef and business owner to the Avenue, as we need to encourage more and more local residents to open local businesses on the Avenue. Oliver has a unique family history in the DC food business as his ancestors owned and operated Holmes Bakery, which baked and distributed bread to local stores, based off of New York Ave nearby. The bakery went out of business when the Depression hit back in the early 1930’s.

Can’t wait to try his food? Well, if his planned January 2013 soft opening doesn’t happen, Oliver is trying to plan a popup restaurant for one or two days in January at Silvestre Cafe in Brookland (12th Street).

What are your thoughts? Will you try to get reservations to his new restaurant? Is a tasting menu restaurant really cool or too much?

8 thoughts on “The Date is Set: Oliver Friendly’s New Restaurant is Coming!

  1. to my chagrin I had to Google Silvestre Cafe. as someone who is wrapping up the process that Oliver is going through, god do i know his pain! can’t wait for his addition to the neighborhood.

  2. I’m very familiar with a lot of the ins and outs for permitting in DC, since I’ve done quite a bit of work here (I’m an interior Architect at The resubmittal process should not hold him up too much, if the architect documents and shows everything correctly.

    One area of big concern however, will be the existing conditions of the space he is moving into. Even in the best buildings, there will typically be something that is revealed during the demolition phase, that someone wasn’t aware of. In addition, even if there are no issues, and the general contractor has plenty of people to work on the project, lead times for equipment and materials can hold up the process. Some of the big lead time products are lighting and mechanical. These items, as well as others, are not typically stocked, and so are built as they are ordered. So they have to go into the manufacturing queue, which can cause a delay, add in more time if the product is ordered from overseas. So yes, the assumption to round up is pretty standard.

    As for stopping in, I think this is a great concept and will help bring a higher quality and level of food to the area. The pricing may keep me away from eating there on the regular, however, it will be nice to know that special dinners no longer require a trip downtown. Looking forward to Little Ricky’s opening as well.

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