WASHINGTON, DC / ACCESSWIRE / August 6, 2019 / An advertiser, a lawyer and an architect walk into a bar…
It might sound like the start of a joke, but it was actually the start of a successful DC pub.
About ten years ago, Brittany Ryan (the advertiser), Matt Murphy (the lawyer), and Nick Bernel (the architect) were moonlighting from their day jobs at a Georgetown bar when their passion for the business led them to opening their first restaurant. The trio brought in Jeremy Gifford, another veteran of the same Georgetown bar fresh off of opening DC Reynolds in Petworth, as an advisor, and together they opened The Pub & The People, at the crossroads of Bloomingdale and Eckington on North Capitol Street.
The Pub, as regulars call it, was an immediate success, and has won either “Best New Bar,” “Best Neighborhood Bar,” or “Best Bar” from the Washington City Paper every year since opening in 2015. Now, that quartet is taking their winning formula across town to open Present Company Public House this weekend.
Present Company occupies an 1855 firehouse that was the oldest operating fire station in the District when it was decommissioned in 1974. The space has been redesigned with care and sensitivity to its history, adding modern touches while exposing the bones of the 19th century firehouse. Located at 438 Massachusetts Ave. NW, it straddles the line between Chinatown and Mount Vernon Square, and is just a few blocks from NoMa.
From Left to Right: Brittany Ryan, Lincoln Fuge, Nick Bernel, and Matt Murphy
- The kitchen will be headed by Executive Chef Lincoln Fuge, a Certified Sommelier originally from Nashville, who was most recently head chef at DC’s recently closed and much-loved 701. He brings with him extensive experience in upscale restaurants on both coasts — from Boston to Los Angeles — with names like Nobu and Todd English on his CV.
- Chef Fuge is looking forward to taking all he has learned from the worlds of both fine dining and high-volume cooking to make simply great pub food. Don’t look for chef-y drizzles next to tiny morsels plated with tongs. He’s told colleagues from the fine dining world joining him at Present Company that they can “leave their tweezers at home.”
- Present Company is dedicated to being low in pretense and high in quality. No one will ask, “Have you dined with us before?” because a menu shouldn’t have to be explained. Go ahead and taste each other’s food if you choose, but your waiter won’t open with, “We recommend sharing.” And no one will need to figure out how many “small plates” per person.
- The menu isn’t themed; instead they have tried to create a menu on which everyone can find items they love. It helps that one of the owners is a vegetarian, so there are plenty of vegetarian offerings. Meat eaters will enjoy pastrami smoked on premises, and seafood options range from Faroe Islands salmon to local Maryland crab.
- All ingredients on the food menu are freshand humanely sourced, and whenever possible, local. The bar menu combines distilled spirits and wines from around the globe with local craft offerings.
- The bar will have 12 beers on tap, and 46 bottles, including hard ciders and spiked seltzers. Beer and shot combos start at $6, alongside pricier options if that’s what you prefer.
- For the non beer-drinkers, there are 20 wines in an approachable price range, a cocktail menu with a dozen original house creations made alongside well-made classics, and an extensive, well-rounded spirits list.
- Happy hour will include $6 house red and white wine, $4 rail drinks, and $2 off draft beers, along with delicious food options
- The owners are focused on keeping prices reasonable for their neighbors, both the residents of the neighborhood and employees in nearby businesses.
- Present Company will open this weekend with limited hours, but very soon plans to be reliably open daily from lunch to late-night, with brunch on weekends.
The “secret sauce” the owners developed at The Pub & The People is their work culture. “We just thought it would be awesome to open a place where the employees actually liked working there and looked at their coworkers as friends and family,” said co-owner Brittany Ryan. “We realized in our first year that that there is a hell of a lot that goes into that. The funny thing is, we actually did it.”
The evidence suggests they did, as staff at The Pub testifies. “We all met bartending in Georgetown. When my friends and co-workers became owners here, they didn’t change. They are behind the bar, or waiting tables every day. It feels like family,” said “B” Delapeña, one of the first hires at The Pub. “We have staff now who were regulars before they decided to work here.”
“I think we did create a ‘family’ of sorts at The Pub,” said co-owner Matt Murphy, “and we want that family to grow. We have a lot of people who have been here from the start, and they are going to be our right hands at Present Company.”
One afternoon last week, an office worker from a nearby building eagerly walked into the unlocked front door, and asked co-owner Nick Bernel if he could order take-out. After explaining that they’d be opening soon, he noted, “a lot of places cover their windows with brown paper when they are in construction, but we want our neighbors to see what’s coming.”
And that open-door policy led to the hire of another key employee, Pub bartender-turned-bar-manager Walter Thomas, who will be part of the launch staff at Present Company.
“Most places cover the windows and lock the doors when they are building out before they open, but here, they had the door wide open. My buddy works at UPS and walked in to deliver a package. He looked around, and thought the renovation looked awesome. He started chatting with a dude who was here working along side the construction guys, and he figured he was a foreman. They talked and he found out he was an owner. So he told him he had a friend who they should meet,” Walter said. “The culture is what is different. When someone walks in here, it’s not just ‘what can I get you, it’s how can I get to know you. Look, it’s a cliché, but Cheersis the model for what we do here. We make it a point to get to know people’s names. It’s not enough to remember what someone drinks, we want to remember who they are.”
Brittany has one more thing aimed at restaurant folks. “We have zero drama, everyone gets along and in 4+ years we have never had someone put in for time off and didn’t get it covered. Which if you’re reading this and you’re in the industry- that’s huge.”
Stove Boat Communications
SOURCE: Present Company Public House
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