The Riyad is set to close in a month, and coming up is a wine bar to replace it. I sat down with Justin Logan for coffee the other day to chat about Ruta del Vino, the wine bar coming to 800 Upshur St NW.
The restaurant has been an idea that owners Justin and Jessica Logan have wanted to do for a long time. They've been looking around the Petworth area for a few years, and even had a letter of intent to lease a building up around the 4500 block of Georgia Avenue, which ended up falling through.
Justin had been in contact with Daryl Dudley, the owner of the building at 800 Upshur St last year and expressed interest in leasing space. After reading about the impending closure of Riyad on Petworth News, Justin reached out to Daryl again, and in the end, a deal was made. Jessica and Justin, backed by co-investor Michelle Rodriguez, signed a lease on the building starting October 1, 2015.
Mind you, the Riyad has until November 13th to get out to the building. That doesn't give the Logans a lot of time to turn the inconvenience store into the beautiful Latin-inspired wine bar they envision. Both the Riyad and the space behind it at 802 Upshur St need a lot of work.
"We know it's going to be tight, but we think we can do it," Justin said. "The goal is to be open by late Spring or early Summer."
He does sound like he knows what he's doing. They've applied for a Great Street Grant, are getting ready to submit their request to ABRA for a liquor license, thinking about menu and wine list, considering the type of chef they want and are looking for the best ways to reaching out to the community. "We definitely want to be a place for locals to come," Justin said. "We also hope to bring people from around the area to enjoy the food and wine."
Speaking of which, Justin said while the wine list was still being worked on, they have an idea of what the food will be like. The menu will consist of dishes from multiple countries, including Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. He said they don't want to do small plates, but will offer "full-sized dinner entrees along with smaller size entrees if people just want to stop by for a quick bite."
The front of the restaurant will feature big open windows with seating around a large square-shaped bar in the center. There will be seating around all four sides of the bar. The back of the restaurant will offer more tables (perhaps a private area for parties), and the kitchen.
Justin and I will keep in contact as an opening gets closer -- hopefully I can get a preview of the menu and walk-through of the space later in the spring.