New management team for the future of Shaw's Tavern (2023)

Since six months or so,Shaw's tavernehas been through a lot: adelayed opening, a pre-opening regulatory body for alcoholic beveragesreference, opening without a liquor license and beyondclose abruptlywaiting for a permit that wasin the end he refused. Sigh. But just before the holidays, some hope was rekindled that this thing could actually happen with its announcementbrand new propertyand another shooting on a liquor license. Eater caught up with the brand new general managerReza Akhavana chefJoel Huttonto discuss what the hell happened to Shaw's Tavern and what to look for from version 2.0 onwards when that liquor license comes around.

So tell me how you got the idea to run this space and how are you doing?
RA:What happened is [the previous owners] didn't get permission at all. So they had to sell the business to the new owner, Siya [Sadeghi], who hired me and Joel as general manager and chef. So we applied for a new license and he had a restaurant in DC so there shouldn't be a problem. But we are still waiting for permission when we are talking to you. I was hoping to get it this week, but you never know. I think they have three weeks to get back to us.

So at the moment he is with ABRA.
RA:Yes. So all other permissions are good - occupancy, even porch occupancy, everything. So we look forward to it.

Do you feel optimistic that it will pass?
RA:I really don't see any reason not to.JH:The ANC supported us. We had to go to a meeting and they supported us. So overall it's a stepping stone and we should take that. But yes, the holidays bring a spike in the middle of everything because people have those extra days off. I think that's also the delay.

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I know the original owners still own the building. Will they be involved in the business in any way? There are assumptions that can cause problems.
RA:Not at all. They say, "We're done. We just want to get rid of it. No more headaches." I haven't actually met the original owner, but I know they say, "Just pay us the rent and we'll be happy."

So tell me about your new plans for the place and how it will differ from what was originally intended.
RA:We come from different places. I'm from Front Page in Dupont Circle and he's from Leopold's. Obviously two completely different places. First of all, it will be a relaxing place. It won't be good food. With the setup and everything, it would be hard to go like this. You will still see a lot of microbreweries here and a lot of wine and cocktails. Cocktails can focus a bit on American drinks and brands. The beers will be mostly US microbreweries, many from here. And then the back of the house is apparently all his.JH:Keeping [the start menu] pretty simple at first, just because the first few months a restaurant has a lot of twists and turns to work out. So I would like to keep it very simple at the beginning and let it grow into something more. The place is already a tavern so I have to focus on that. It's certainly not fine dining, but I try to make it a little more fun than the next guy on the street.

Are you doing anything to change the space around you?
RA:Not at all. The only change I've made to the space is I got rid of some of those benches and ordered some more of those high tables that we have so people have more tables to sit and eat at. The only thing is that they have now rented the whole building and the upper floor is commercial so we are thinking of extending the upper floor in the near future. It will be a private dinner. It is now in R&D.

I thought it was upstairs apartments.
JH:They were sued for commercial taxes, and when they came back and said, "Hey, I pay commercial taxes, but it's for residential," they said, "Well, we're not going to give you your money back. Just make the whole building commercial ."RA:And then we plan to add a roof terrace as well.

(Video) Shaw Business | Leopold's Tavern 0:20 V2

What things did you hear from the neighbors?
JH:I went to the ANC meeting and we had two or three in the audience and they had some questions for us, they seemed very supportive. Of the blogs I read, some were quite damning, but it seemed like this is what the neighbors wanted here.RA:I've only heard good things. I've been here almost every day for the past two weeks and not a day goes by that there isn't a knock on the door saying, "When are you guys opening?" and "We can't wait." So I think everyone is very excited about it. Let's hope it happens.

Were you afraid to keep the Shaw's Tavern name? Have you ever thought of changing it?
RA:I never thought about it.JH:Yes, we never thought of that. But you know, whether it's good press or bad press, I feel like it puts the spotlight on us. And then because of the neighborhood, because they're so supportive of us, I think it'll be good that we're in the spotlight.

So, the plan for when you get the liquor license, you open almost immediately?
JH:The sign has to be in the window for five days and then we open. RA: So once we get it, we're ready. I'm ready. JH: I've been out of the kitchen for about two weeks now, so I'm getting goosebumps.RA:I hired enough people to start. I have all orders ready to ship. We had this menu from last week.

And are you open in the evenings?
RA:For starters, yes.JH:Saturday and Sunday we finally have brunch. Somehow you have to have an open brunch to keep your food costs down a bit because eggs cost pennies. There isn't really a place for brunch around here. I think the neighborhood needs it. But again, not to start. Maybe give it a month.

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And what do you think of the devastation this place has endured?
Links:I know a little bit about blogs, but like I said, no man is necessarily a bad guy. It sort of puts us in the spotlight, so I'm just trying to stay positive and not read into it like that.RA:I've been in business for 15 years, even before I got into the restaurant business, so I've had a lot of these headaches. So I'm just used to it. We'll make it happen. The thing is, this place, it's just such a nice place for the neighborhood. In the end, I see no reason why it shouldn't be open, running and adding to the neighborhood. So I'm pretty sure there will be. Very fast.

· All previous coverage of Shaw's Tavern[-EDC-]

Shaw's taverne

520 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001 202 518 4092

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Shaw's taverne

520 Florida Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

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