Openings

First Look: Republic Opens Sunday in Takoma Park

By Rina Rapuano  |  December 6, 2013
Credit: Christopher Anderson

DC-area food lovers generally get pretty revved up about the opening of a new restaurant by Black Restaurant Group, owners of such well-regarded restaurants as BlackSalt, Pearl Dive and Black’s Bar & Kitchen. But with the opening of Republic on Sunday, we’re guessing nobody is more excited than the people of Takoma Park, a neighborhood that has long been immune to the hip dining-room boom happening around DC.

Republic - a playful tip of the hat to the neighborhood’s nickname, the People’s Republic of Takoma Park - is a partnership between restaurateur and chef Jeff Black with former Pearl Dive chef Danny Wells. The casual yet trendy venue will start with dinner only but plans to roll out a weekday lunch and weekend brunch over the next few weeks. There will also be live music.

“The concept of the restaurant was really inspired by the neighborhood,” Wells said in a statement. “I grew up here, worked in my first kitchen here and my family still lives here. It’s a wonderful community, and we are excited to bring a new and exciting concept to the neighborhood, which I believe fills a real void.”

Here’s a preview of how the restaurant owners have interpreted what they call “Takoma Style.”

6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park; 301-215-6397

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  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    Neon lights above the front door and deco-style elements welcome guests to Takoma Park's newest eatery. 

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    The bar features a raw bar, antique seltzer-water bottles, a zinc bar top and lamp shades made from jet-engine parts. That raw bar will, of course, shuck oysters that include Old Black Salts and Black Pearls, which are custom-cultivated for the restaurant group by Rappahannock River Oyster Co. and Toby Island Oyster Co. 

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    There is more seating near the bar, where bar manager Brett Robison (formerly of Tryst) will share with guests a robust coffee program, his strong interest in beer, and cocktails named with neighborhood references. The beer list is mostly populated with local brews, including six drafts. 

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    There's no denying that wallpaper is hot this year, and Republic follows the trend by incorporating a 1960s floral wallpaper from Paris. Other design elements to look out for are salvaged doors from a Buenos Aires mansion that serve to separate the private dining area and gas torch on the front of the building made by Outcast Studios, the same company doing maintenance work on the Statue of Liberty.

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    Victorian couches were collected from around the country, reupholstered in deep-red velvet and put together to create bench seating that lines one whole side of the restaurant. (The Victorian feel is carried through to one of the bathrooms, where red walls decked with beautiful vintage hand mirrors decorate the walls.)

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    The tabletops were made with wood reclaimed from an old home in Georgetown.

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    An old radio console at the main entrance to the dining room adds to the funky look.

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    A picture window gives diners a view of the kitchen, which will feature some greatest-hits dishes from other Black restaurants and will source many ingredients from the Takoma Park farmer's market. Vegetarian options will abound.

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    One dish on the menu is a Portuguese seafood stew packed with fresh and salted cod, white shrimp, mussels and clams in a smoked paprika broth.

  • Credit: Christopher Anderson

    Takoma Park residents will recognize the neon sign from the building's previous tenant, Video Americain, which now glows above an outdoor patio area set to open this spring.