The 800 block of Upshur is going to have a new, wonderful aroma in a few weeks. Three long-term DC restaurateurs, Matt Krimm, John Anderson and Bill Coleman, are getting ready to open Cinder, a barbeque restaurant, at the corner of 8th and Upshur. They hope to open in April. From the sound of it, it’s going to be delicious.
They purchased the space from the previous owners of Ruta del Vino, and have the benefit of walking into a great interior and full kitchen that doesn’t need too many updates and changes (they’re building a smoker in the kitchen). The licenses and permits transfer with the purchase, speeding up the process (as much as any process dealing with DC government can be sped up). Without the delay of an interior build out, they hope to be open in 6-8 weeks.
Matt and John are running the bar and the front of the house. They bring 20 years of experience in DC, and currently own Civil Lounge in Chevy Chase (which currently offers 400 different whiskey variations), as well as two locations of W. Curtis Draper tobacconist shops.
The plan is for Cinder to be a neighborhood destination, focused on providing high-quality barbeque in a relaxed environment. “Barbeque joints aren’t fancy,” Matt said. “This is not going to be some downtown DC fancy thing, this is going to be a neighborhood cool spot to hang out in.” (For what it’s worth, Matt lives in Petworth only a few blocks up from the new restaurant.)
That relaxed feel will lead to some changes at the bar, from barbeque-themed signage to a few TVs going in around the bar for people to enjoy (sound off). And the bar has to accommodate the two new beer taps (Matt said he’s a big fan of 3 Stars Brewing Company) and what will likely be 100 different whiskeys and bourbons. (Look for big brands, as well as interesting whiskeys, including ryes, scotches and even a few from Scandinavia and India.)
The food is all Bill Coleman, their Pit Master. He’s been professionally barbecuing for more than 15 years, offering catering at Bill’s Backyard BBQ and at various pop-ups and farmer’s markets. (I heard he’s even cooked up his famous food for past presidential administrations). You can find him on Instagram at @BillsBackyardBBQ.
A retired Marine, Bill and his wife split their time between the US and Japan, where his wife’s family lives and owns a renowned sushi restaurant. The catering aspect will remain after Cinder opens, as they’ll continue to offer catering for small occasions to large parties, as well as take-away from the restaurant itself.
The menu will be strictly barbeque, focusing on the basics, featuring the dry-rubbed brisket Bill is known for, as well as pulled pork, smoked wings (and fried wings), whole and 1/2 smoked chickens, pork ribs, smoked salmon and more along those lines.
The staple sides will be there as well: mac and cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, collareds, and such.
There will also be rotating items, like a smoked, candied bourbon bacon that will probably become a mainstay of their brunch service when that begins.
“Bill also does these little boneless beef ribs, called finger ribs, that are real cool,” Matt said. “And he does something called a ‘chicken bomb,’ a boned-out chicken thigh stuffed with two types of cheeses, a pepper relish and wrapped in bacon and smoked.” Keep an eye out for that amazing-sounding item as it rotates on and off the menu.
Bill does many different sauces, from Carolina vinegar, to bourbon, molasses and tabasco sauces, as well as mustard sauces.
To answer two of the most frequent questions: East Carolina / Kansas City style barbeque; and yes, there will be vegetarian options.
Kids will also be accommodated, Matt said, with menu items suitable for children (though really, isn’t all barbeque suitable?). He said he was thinking of what events he could do with kids to teach them about barbeque, such as offering a special “certificate” after a program on how to smoke and barbeque.
Matt said they’re also very interested in hiring staff from the local area. So if you are or know bartenders, cooks and front of the house staff who live in Petworth, have them inquire via email.
As they work on getting Cinder ready to open, look for some special events in the coming weeks where they’ll be testing out recipes and sandwiches in pairings with wine and beer. Don’t worry, we’ll help get the word out.