Late summer might be an unusual time to open up a beer garden for some, but for the owners of Dacha Beer Garden, its turned out to be right on time.
Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin brings the newest addition to outdoor drinking with Dacha, located at 1600 7th Street, NW (the corner of 7th and Q Streets, NW). They understand that opening a beer garden in D.C. isn't something new, but the real challenge is connecting with the community; the primary task of any neighborhood establishment.
“Our goal is to create a pleasant, green and beautiful neighborhood beer garden serving world-class brews and tasty, organic food to our community," was the comment made by the garden's owners.
It's one of the more than twenty new bars and restaurants expected to launch in the thriving northwest D.C. neighborhood; a neighborhood that's home to the historic and newly renovated Wonder Bread Factory, an 80,000 square foot structure, and the award-wining Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library.
Being nestled in one of D.C.'s more urban neighborhoods where more space sells at a premium, the business seems to still bring out the crowds. Dacha doesn't have the large space that its competitor American Ice Company has, but many of the neighborhood residents feel they don't need it.
"So far, Dacha is hitting a home run in my book," said Gladys Teeter, who lives four blocks away. "I think it's the right size for a good neighborhood location that can easily survive. Almost every time I walk by there, I see people sitting outside and having a nice time."
Howard, another Shaw neighborhood resident mentioned Dacha was like the perfect front porch to 7th Street, and quipped he's seen a lot of familiar faces there. ANC6E01 Commissioner Rachelle Nigro, Council-members Tommy Wells, Vincent Orange, Jim Graham, and David Grosso have all been spotted there.
Patrons seem boisterous, but on a different level. It feels that instead of the clinking of liter mugs and reciting your favourite drinking song, you have people laughing and having intimate conversations that easily spills over to people you don't know, due to the community seating.
But be warned Washingtonians...you won't find Bud Light or Miller Light there; but what you will find are about a dozen Belgian, German, and American microbrews. Dacha offers pints, half-liters ($7), full liters served in a glass German boot ($14), or if you are unsure of where your beer pallet lies, you can order a beer sampler of 11 traditional 0.2 liter (6.7 ounce) glasses served on a travel tray ($30).
And the atmosphere is spot-on for some. A few Germans who visited the location during the recent World Bank/IMF Membership Meeting said it definitely reminded them of an evening in a typical Bavarian village where the locals all gather to enjoy a pint or two...or three.
Alexander Padro, Executive Director of Shaw Main Streets* had previously stated Shaw is a neighborhood that’s booming with new residential and commercial development.
"I've seen more people in the neighborhood than in previous times," said neighborhood resident Curtis Black. "I moved to the neighborhood about six years ago - when the old Giant was still around - and I have to say that the area doesn't really feel the same. It's actually beginning to feel like a place I can hang out in, instead of just living in it."
The newest addition to the location is a three-story tall mural of a young Elizabeth Taylor, buy area artists Byron Peck and Ivo Koytchev.
Why a mural of Taylor? The late-actress had long been a supporter of LGBT issues, and even co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR), the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF), and two decades ago the D.C. based Whitman Walker Clinic opened the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center.
Councilman Graham, who spoke at Dacha's signing ceremony of the mural, said that because of Taylor's generosity "many lives in DC were saved...and many people where helped through a difficult time for the city".
Over the winter, Alter and Chekaldin plan to have a permanent building constructed where a kitchen will be added to the mix. Currently, the only food offered is provided by food trucks that stop by, a food vender on site, or one of the many take-a-ways that crowd busy 7th Street.
It's an outdoor neighborhood bar so last call is at 10:30 p.m. during the week and 11:30 p.m. on the weekends. Official hours of operation are:
Sunday: 12 p.m.- 10:30 p.m.
Monday–Thursday: 4 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Friday: 4 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.
Saturday:12 p.m. - 11:59 p.m.
So if you're looking for a new destination that has a real neighborhood atmosphere, be sure to keep Dacha Beer Garden on your list.
Readers can keep up with the latest that's going on with Dacha Beer Garden by following them on Facebook, or give them a call at 202-524-8790. Readers can also keep up with latest about Shaw by following them on Twitter (@shawmainstreets).
*Shaw Main Streets is a designated DC Main Streets local program, funded in part by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development, Vincent C. Gray, Mayor.