Look Inside DC’s First Micro Hotel

Published in the Washingtonian. By Marisa M. Kashino.

As of last month, Washington’s first for-sale micro-units hit the market. And we’re approaching yet another tiny-living milestone: When it opens in late summer/early fall, Hotel Hive will become Washington’s first micro-hotel, with rooms averaging about 250 square feet.

Mega-developer Jim Abdo has for the past two years been transforming the historic Allen Lee Hotel in Foggy Bottom into Hotel Hive, what he hopes will become the prototype for a hip national chain. That would be a big first for Abdo, too, who typically builds condo and apartment developments and has never ventured outside this region. His first and only other hospitality project is the six-room White Moose Inn in Washington, VA—a much smaller endeavor than the 83-room Hive, which will also have a main floor cocktail lounge operated by Michael Lastoria, co-founder of build-your-own pizza chain, &Pizza. (Abdo and Lastoria say they can’t yet confirm whether a lobby-level restaurant will in fact be an &Pizza, though Abdo’s website describes Hotel Hive guests “designing their own rustic pizza.”)

Abdo says he relished the opportunity to “build a brand” with the old Allen Lee property, which he bought in 2004 after a chance encounter with the daughter of the building’s then-owner. As Abdo tells it, he was laying sod in front of another of his properties in the West End—it had an Abdo Development sign out front—when a woman approached and asked if he knew how she could reach the developer. She wanted to sell her mother’s old 1900s hotel at F Street and Virginia Avenue, a building Abdo says he had long admired for, among other things, its location near George Washington University and the State Department. After introducing himself, he says he told her on the spot that he wanted to buy it.

Abdo is building Hotel Hive with young guests in mind. The smaller rooms allow for lower prices—nightly rates will range from $125 to $150. Though there will be a traditional check-in area in the lobby, guests will be able to bypass it and check themselves into their rooms using their smart phones (they’ll be notified of their room numbers by e-mail prior to arriving). Lastoria says his bar will “feel like you stumbled in to someone’s cool DC apartment,” and freshly squeezed juices and house-made sodas will be the focus of his cocktail program: “We’ve been experimenting with all kinds of flavors and liquor-combinations.” A roof-deck will offer another hang-out area for visitors, and despite the focus on Millennials, some rooms can be connected to create suites for families.

During a tour of the construction site, Abdo pointed out measures he’s taking to party-proof the rooms, such as extensively sound-proofing them and bolting floating desks directly into the structure of the building. Akseizer Design Group, in collaboration with Abdo’s wife, Mai, is designing the interiors, and wherever possible, original brick and wood will remain exposed. Abdo commissioned an all-glass elevator; each level of its shaft will feature different murals painted by local artists, so guests can take in a mini art show on their way up.

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Texas Jack’s Opens in Clarendon on Monday

Published by DC on Heels. By Mark Heckathorn.

After a delay, Texas Jack’s Barbecue, 2761 Washington Blvd., Arlington will open at 4 p.m. today on the outskirts of Clarendon in the former Tallula/EatBar space and Whitey’s Restaurant before that.

The 145-seat restaurant is named for “Texas Jack” Omohundro who was born near Palmyra, Va., in 1846 and not the style of barbecue it serves, said co-owner Steve Roberts. Texas Jack was a great American cowboy as the Civil War was ending, Roberts said. He was also a scout, teacher, journalist and actor who was in movies with “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

“We didn’t want to commit to a specific region (or barbecue), but be inspired by all of them,” Roberts explained. It won’t be your typical barbecue joint with counter service. Instead, Texas Jack’s is full-service but casual with servers. “Counter service doesn’t do justice to the quality of meats being served,” Roberts said. “We want to pair the quality of meats with the quality of our service.”

Inside the 6,700 square-foot restaurant, a large open kitchen offers eight counter seats and is the backdrop for the dining room. Tallula’s velvet curtains and plush banquettes have been replaced by reclaimed wood, industrial-looking metal accents and rope. The space, designed by the Akseizer Design Group, is divided into the main dining room with individual tables and one long 20-seat communal-style table in the center, the 14-seat bar and lounge and a private dining room that can seat 35. Once warmer weather comes back, there will also be a 26-seat patio.

All the furnishings were made especially for Texas Jack’s from reclaimed wood from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, Roberts said. From the depth of the seat or the angle of the backs tor the rolling communal tables, classic enamelware and matching enamel light fixtures, everything is custom designed. The wall are white painted brick and bar stools are covered in white and brown-spotted cowhide. Pops of color come from white and yellow plaid booths, a yellow accent wall and a colorful mural of the United states

Executive Chef and Pitmaster is Matt Lang, most recently sous chef at Hill Country Barbecue. Before that, he had worked at Pearl Oyster Bar and Fette Sau, both in New York. Lang won Food Network’ Best in Smoke in 2011, where he competed against barbecue giants like Famous Dave, Chris Lilley and Brad Orrison.

All the meats are hormone-free, antibiotic-free and raised humanely, and smoked in-house in two smokers using oak wood. Lang said the brisket is smoked for 11 hours overnight and the pork for 10 hours. Ribs are smoked for 3 ½-4 hours in the morning and chicken for about 1 ½ hours. All the barbecue is dry-rubbed with sauce served on the side.

Lang’s menu of American classics has Mexican and German influences. The opening menu includes smoked meats priced from $6-$22/pound including brisket, pulled pork, beef short rib, sausages, pork belly, St. Louis-style spare ribs, jerk leg of goat and jerk lamb belly. Sides include smashed cucumber salad with yogurt, rice wine vinegar and jalapeños; warm potato salad made with fried potatoes and a warm bacon vinaigrette; esquites, grilled corn off the cob with mayo, Mexican cheese, cilantro and jalapeños; fried Brussels sprouts with lemon juice and parmesan; not so spicy coleslaw with jalapeños, cilantro, red onion and cotija cheese; and macaroni and cheese. Sides are priced from $4-$8; appetizers from $8-$12 and sandwiches from $8-$12.

There will be a separate bar menu with dishes such as spicy Mexican-style shrimp cocktail; no masa sope style smashed fried potatos with beans, pulled pork and cheese; nachos with beans, pulled pork or brisket, white queso, crema, salsa verde and salsa roja; chilaquiles, a vegetarian version of nachos; kale Caesar salad with croutons and parmesan; a classic double burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and piquin chile mayo; a no meat burger with wheat berry, shiitake, porcini and chickpea; pork sandwich with not so spicy coleslaw and Sriracha pickles; brisket sandwich with a fried egg, queso blanco and poblano peppers; and smoked tofu tacos. The bar menu ranges in price from $8-$12.

Assistant general manager and beverage director Remzi Yilmaz, formerly of Hill Country, will offer 12 local craft beers on tap priced as well as canned beers from $6-$10, keg wines available by the glass for $8-$12 and carafe for $12-$18 and a selection of 80 bourbons and ryes arranged and labeled by state.

Cocktails will be simple and feature the bourbons and ryes including Jack’s Mule with fresh lime, mint, bourbon and ginger beer; Oaxaca Smash with mezcal, sage, honey and fresh lemon juice; The Josephine with prosecco, Cointreau, white peaches, fresh lemon juice and a dash of Pinot Noir; smoked whiskey sour with bourbon, fresh lemon and lime, jalapeño-peppercorn simple syrup and egg whites; Boulevardier with Campari, sweet vermouth, rye whiskey and an orange twist; mint julep with sugar syrup, mint, bourbon and bitters; and the Clover Club Cocktail with gin, egg white, fresh lemon juice and raspberry syrup. Cocktails range from $12-$14.

On opening day, the 10th guest will receive a complimentary serving of nachos with pulled pork, white queso, crema, salsa verde and salsa roja or chilaquiles, a vegetarian version of nachos; the 20th diner will receive four complimentary side dishes for the table, the 50th diner will receive one complimentary entrée and one side dish of their choice, and the 100th guest will get the signature brisket serving four guests.

Texas Jack’s Barbecue is open from 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily, with the kitchen closing at 1 a.m. Weekend brunch and lunch service will be added later.

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