Retail and Services Expand on Barracks Row

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March 1, 2012

Retail and Services Expand on Barracks Row by Sharon Bosworth

There’s no question that Barracks Row is a restaurant lover’s dream with even more eateries opening in the first quarter of 2012. But don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all that’s on The Row. Retailing and service oriented businesses are blossoming, too - especially one’s oriented to pets and personal grooming.

Presently there are four pet centered businesses on the row with a fifth being planned. Metro Mutts (formerly Pawticulars) at 707 8th Street; Chateau Animaux (under new ownership and soon to be named Howl To The Chief) at 733 8th Street; Valerie’s Animal Den Grooming and Boarding at 737 8th Street, SE; and Dogma at 821 Virginia Ave, SE.

Recently ANC Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg hosted a casual meeting at the Hill Center for everyone in the neighborhood to meet the owners of Wagtime, a dog day care-dog retailer whose flagship operation is in Shaw. The Wagtime group has expressed interest in the property at the corner of Potomac Avenue and 9th Street, SE. They would be neighbors to Dominos. To open their business a change in zoning would be required.

Should the zoning change work out for Wagtime by spring 2012, our five pet emporiums will challenge personal care salons for the second place commercial business classification on 8th Street after restaurants. Presently there are six salons in the Barracks Row footprint: Patou Personalized Beauty Care, 709 D Street, SE; Bouvier International, 711 D Street, SE; Skin Beauty Lounge at 404 1/2 8th Street, SE; Natural Kinks, 406 8th Street, SE, second floor; Tracy and Company, 428 8th Street, SE; and A-List Nails, 739 8th Street, SE. Ivee Track, owner of A-List Nails (shown here) noted,Our business levels are increasing every week- we’re very happy to be here.”

 

Recently Myles Doherty and partners, owners of 737 8th Street SE, announced a new, as yet unnamed beauty salon was opening soon in that building. But whichever category prevails, beauty salons or pet emporiums, the ultimate winners are the supporters of Barracks Row who have stuck by the corridor through the recession and bought local. Today there is a growing abundance of retail and services of all descriptions on 8th Street giving new impetus to Ward 6 as the epicenter of a DC’s livable, walkable urban lifestyle.

With over 35 eateries on Barracks Row we are constantly alert for news from our ever evolving restaurant scene. This month there is a brand new chef at Lavagna, 539 8th Street, SE. John Barton, trained at Culinary Institute of America and was on the team at Bibiana, 1100 New York Ave, NW,  the highly rated modern-Italian restaurant. There he was spotted by Stephen Cheung, owner of Lavagna. Barton has a passion for a la minute preparation - dishes prepared from scratch when they are ordered.  From the day it opened the motto at Lavagna has been, simple, fresh and Italian. After three weeks on the job, Barton is working his way through the menu, tweaking and perfecting it as well as setting up an on-site meat curing and vegetable picking operation.

Cheung is working at Barton’s pace, ready when the chef is to make changes. By March the menu at Lavagna will clearly reflect Barton’s preference for ultra fresh ingredients. Soon you will notice weekly or even daily menu changes that demonstrate the chef’s passion for the freshest of the fresh. He already has a reputation for sending back anything frozen his suppliers mistakenly ship in. Though Lavagna is recognized for light, modern sauces, Cheung believes Barton will be going lighter still, developing sauces that only enhance and never cover the flavors of meats. Each plate will be prepared a la minute, making possible customization for special diets and preferences with every single order.

Across the street at Senart’s Oyster and Chop House, 520 8th Street, SE, owner Xavier Cervera has brought in Chef Brandon Thorpe who trained at Baltimore International College’s Food Institute and was hired from top rated Cinghale Osteria, 833 Lancaster Street, Baltimore, MD. Cinghale means wild boar in Italian. A native to the Baltimore area (and avid Raven’s fan), Thorpe sees parallels in the abundance of the Chesapeake area to parts of California. A tremendous variety of nearby specialty farms and organic dairies are now prospering, making it possible to develop locally sourced menus that include game like venison and boar as well as the expected pork chops and beef steaks while also offering new side dishes like wild mushrooms instead of the more expected green beans. Chef Brandon Thrope shown above left teaching Oyster Shucking at Barracks Row Culinary Education Crawl.

Thorpe’s earliest influence came from a large extended family which gathered at holidays, 18 to 20 strong around the table. Then there was an uncle in the restaurant business, four years in California, and one day he knew he wanted to be a chef; he returned to Baltimore for training. Executive Chef Brian Kline who opened Senart’s as chef last year and immediately became a neighborhood favorite is now at Boxcar 224 7th Street, SE, just 3 blocks away.  After months of orientation at Lola’s, Molly Malone’s and working with Chef Brian, Chef Brandon Thrope now has his own show at Senart’s Oyster and Chop House.

Though the Senart’s kitchen is small, the possibilities are endless. Oysters will always be the anchor at Senart’s. At the recent Barracks Row Culinary Education Crawl Chef Brandon taught class after class the fine points of oyster shucking with rave reviews. The money raised at Senart's Oyster and Chop House Oyster Shucking Classes was donated to Barracks Row Main Street by Owner Xavier Cervera.

Cervera promises more oyster shucking classes will appear on the menu soon. Chef Brandon plans subtle changes this spring to the already Chesapeake oriented Senart’s menu. Then he plans to explore the American melting pot theme by presenting modern interpretations of classic dishes from immigrant communities who have made America what it is today.