A major hole in Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row will be filled with a new restaurant and bar project from Bruce and Sara Naftaly. Perfect for our upcoming months of soggy wet days, much of that hole will be filled with soup.
“This sort of fell into our lap,” Bruce Naftaly told CHS Monday morning as word of the new project spread. “It made so much sense. In one building, you’ll have Almandine, Matt’s place, and then Kurt’s in the back. We’re all people who share a philosophical outlook on food.”
Marmite, named for the lidded French crockery essential to any good soup-y journey to your table, and its sibling bar Spirit in the Bottle will open this December in the space left empty in the 11th Ave office and retail project from Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn when centerpiece restaurant project Chop Shop suddenly went out of business this summer. The closure has been one of the highest profile food and drink meltdowns in what has mostly been a wave of successful new openings across the Hill.
Marmite and its bar join a roster of food, drink, and retail tenants including farm-to-ice cream cone champion Kurt Timmermeister who has taken a 300-square-foot patch of space for his dairy-powered cream and cheese venture, Kurt Farm Shop, and a new Upper Bar Ferd’nand.
The Naftalys have also been a central part of the project with Amandine Bakeshop’s 11th Ave streetfront presence featuring the work of macaron genius Sara and coffee from Empire Espresso. Baked goods and breads from the bakeshop will also be part of the offerings with Marmite’s sandwiches, soups, and salads. Eventually, Marmite will feature a more ambitious dinner menu but it will get its start with a daytime focus and a nighttime menu designed more to accompany selections from the bar, Bruce said Monday.
“This is going to a more daytime, lunch, soup-centric approach I think the neighborhood can use,” Naftaly said.
The daytime vision meshes with developer Dunn’s approach. Instead of betting on the Capitol Hill apartment market, Dunn designed office space for Chophouse Row and is currently landlord to a gaggle of tech startups as well as proprietor of the penthouse level Cloud Room coworking and community space. But after Chop Shop’s implosion, Dunn is also helping to optimize the space to make it easier for the Naftalys to succeed — the back section of the restaurant and bar space is being lopped off, Bruce said, to make a new retail berth inside Chophouse Row.
The Naftalys will also use the space to grow another aspect of their business. Turns out, good soup stock is in demand. Bruce’s stock will be sold out of the space in another new venture coming together with the project.
“The word for stock in French is ‘fond’ — the same root as foundation,” Naftaly said.
“People have been asking me to do this for years.”
Spirit in the Bottle, meanwhile, will not necessarily be daytime and start-up optimized. With their histories creating Le Gourmand and Sambar, expect the new bar space to be a special environment tucked away inside the Chophouse Row building.
“We have some experience with a beautiful, intimate bar,” Bruce said, not wanting to overstate the plans as he and Sara get back into the cocktail spirit of things. Spirt in the Bottle, in addition to being “a pretty good name for a bar,” is also one of the Grimms’ Fairy Tales, “another genie in a bottle story,” Bruce said.
Marmite and Spirit in the Bottle is planned to open in December in the Chophouse Row, 1424 11th Ave.