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A Taste of Barcelona Coming to 14th Street

by Borderstan.com March 27, 2013 at 9:00 am 6 Comments

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]borderstan.com.

"Barcelona"

Barcelona  is coming to 1622 14th Street NW, formerly BodySmith. (Luis Gomez Photos)

BodySmith’s old 14th Street NW location will soon be home to the New England-based Spanish tapas restaurant and wine bar, Barcelona.

“We chose DC because it is such an eclectic environment,” said Ria Rueda, director of marketing for Barteca Restaurant Group. “Restaurants in Washington are serving all different types of foods.”

The restaurant planned for 1622 14th Street NW, which has no set opening date or even approximation, will focus on the traditional cuisine of Spain.

“The focus will very much be on charcuterie, tapas, etc.,” said Rueda. “It will have an excellent wine program and excellent food.”

While Rueda did not have any specific details to share on the menu and wine list for the DC location, she did say that the format of the menu will be similar to Barcelona’s other locations. However, Rueda assured us that Barcelona is “not cookie cutter,” so not everything will be the same.

Other locations for Barcelona serve lunch, brunch and dinner, with a strong focus on dinner. Menu options include a variety of Spanish meats and cheeses, tapas (ranging from Kale Salad to Yellowtail Crudo, Sweetbreads a la Plancha and Spiced Beef Empanadas), paella and mixed-grill items for the table.

Plans for the 14th Street location are still in development, so information on design and space layout is not available. However, Borderstan has seen some action at the site, with a small crane and some cleaning up of the site.

“We’d rather be methodical and take our time to explore every detail,” said Rueda, who also told Borderstan that Barcelona does not have plans reach out to the press when they have a better idea of an opening date. “We’d much rather roll out slowly than stick to a hard date,” she said.

So until the mysterious opening day, we’ll be pacing outside.

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Comments (6)

  1. ENOUGH with the F*^%$#@ tapas already!

  2. They really do seem to be running out of ideas. At some point, these small plate/wine bar/high-end/locally sourced/whatever places will cease to be a viable concept. Maybe we’re already there, because there has to be a limit as to how many similar moderately high-end restaurants a single corridor can handle. Are people really going to differentiate this that much from places like Estadio, Masa 14, Cork or tha bazillion other similar concepts?

    Don’t get me wrong–I’m happy that commercial spaces along 14th Street continue to be filled. But is it too much to ask for some of the places moving in to strive to be more neighborhood focused (i.e., walk in and have a couple of beers and a sandwich for under $20)? Think places like Stoney’s. I guess with commercial lease rates being what they are, the answer is “no.” But as some point, these places will cease to be viable, and then what will be recruited to fill the space?

    Everything is becoming rather one-dimensional. I don’t mean for this to be viewed as an unfair criticism of what might end up being a perfectly enjoyable dining establishment, but there’s just nothing here that sets it apart from anything else that is already open or is set to open nearby.

  3. Ben –

    I hear you, but here are a few things to consider, anyway:

    — In Spain, there are streets with 20 or 30 tapas bars next to each other, stretching several blocks. They don’t really try to create anything “new” or wildly original, but they compete with each other to serve classic stuff really well, and give great service. Some are full, others are empty. In the US you can find a bunch of pizza places near each other, or five burger places, and nobody says they’re being unoriginal. Tapas — certainly ours — can be really different from place to place, so having a handful in a big city like DC doesn’t seem out of whack. We want to differentiate ourselves, or “set it apart,” in your words, with stuff you want to eat every night, awesome service, and a comfortable feel, not with food that nobody has done before.

    — We are incredibly neighborhood focused. Each Barcelona has a local manager, a local chef, different menus, different wine list, etc. We take mostly walk-ins, and are heavily biased towards people who live nearby. I can’t convince you by email, but you will see it. We’re in sort of a tough place – we open a restaurant, people like it, we open another, and soon we can’t do anything right because we’re a corporation, or a chain, or whatever. But we just don’t behave like that; each Barcelona is as Mom-and-Pop as we can get it. I have one partner, and the two of us still run it, and drive around and taste the food, just like we always have.

    Our prices are reasonable, our staff is nice, our food is good. We could do a new type of cuisine every time, but we do one thing pretty well, and we think the neighborhood will appreciate it as a local hangout. That’s the aim, anyway — you and the neighbors will let us know how we did. But in other places where we have a Barcelona — Atlanta, Boston — the locals are genuinely happy we are there. I’m happy to give references.

    Best,

    Andy Pforzheimer
    Barcelona Restaurants

  4. Andy,

    I only now saw your response to my note–sorry for the delay in responding.

    To be clear about a couple of things: that Barcelona is a chain didn’t even enter my mind when I was typing my note above. That doesn’t bother me, and I doubt many others are going to care much either. If they do, they’re just being pretentious and aren’t worth being catered to.

    Secondly, I do appreciate the situation you’re in, and while the idea of ’20 or 30″ tapas places lining 14th Street sounds rather nightmarish to me, I do hope you can make a go of it. I’m not hoping for failure by any means–no one’s well-served by a failing business and an empty storefront. But, as someone who dines out on 14th Street with some degree of regularity, I’m simply being honest when I say that the concept you’re proposing really doesn’t seem that different from what’s already there. Every restaurant tries to be comfortable, every restaurant tries to provide great service (with varying degrees of success), every restaurant tries to make food we’ll want to eat time and again. Those are admirable traits, but not differentiators.

    You’ve got restaurants in a number of other locations, and clearly you know what you’re doing, so far be it from me to question the wisdom of opening a small plates wine bar along a corridor that is already filled with them. I just wish for a concept that strikes me as different from those around it. Either that, or bring your concept to a neighborhood in DC underserved by your type of concept. What of Petworth or Takoma, or perhaps Brookland or Noma? A restaurant such as yours in a neighborhood like Hill East would seem to be in demand. Even in better-known neighborhoods like Dupont and Woodley Park, this type of concept isn’t found in abundance the way it is on 14th Street.

    Anyway, again, I’m certainly not a restaurant industry professional, and maybe I’m just talking out of my arse. i do wish you well. But I’m not sure you’ll jump to the top of my list when I’m thinking of places to head out to on a Friday evening, and places like Estadio, Cork, Masa and Policy keep getting in the way…

  5. Fair enough. Everything you say makes perfect sense. But I will trade losing some business on the novelty end for getting some business on the “we just like this place; the food’s good and the people are nice” end. That’s much more who we are, and that’s harder to pull off than you might think.

    And there’s nothing wrong with going to Cork instead of us a lot of the time. I eat at Cork, and Estadio, all the time.

    Andy

  6. They are even unoriginal in their press. Here is something from their Brookline location in Massachusetts: “While this is the eighth location for Barteca Restaurant Group, there is no cookie-cutter layout, says marketing director Ria Rueda. The menu will be similar as the other locations, but Brand will also create his own specials.”

    http://blog.zagat.com/2013/01/barcelona-restaurant-and-wine-bar-opens.html

    Cookie cutter press releases too…

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