- American Ice Co. (Image courtesy Prince of Petworth)
Joe Reza has been to the hardware store four times already today. And it's only lunchtime.
He's not technically a construction foreman, but he might as well be right now. As the general manager and co-owner (along with Eric and Ian Hilton of Marvin, The Gibson, Eighteenth Street Lounge, et al.) of the soon-to-open barbecue-themed bar American Ice Co., Reza is scrambling to the put finishing touches in place in time for his grand opening next week.
"Thursday?" says Reza of the exact opening date. "Did that sound like more of a question?" It did. After a deep breath, he sounds more authoritative. "I'm going to say Thursday," he says. "That's what we said this morning, that's what I'm going to tell the employees this afternoon." Alrighty, then. [Full disclosure: While Reza and I don't really know each other, we have a few mutual friends and I've known his girlfriend for several years.]
If it seems like you've been hearing about this particular bar being close to opening for a while now, you're probably right. Though Reza says the actual build-out only took about six months, he and his partners secured the former warehouse space at 917 V St. NW long before renovations started.
The space was "completely a shell before we got it," Reza says. "Getting it to where it is took a lot of work." Plus there were the inevitable negotiations with the neighbors, and all the usual obstacles that go in to getting a brand new business off the ground.
Designed a low-frill sort of watering hole, American Ice Co. will serve food, but there won't be servers, and don't look for a fancy drink list. "You can get PBR in a can, or you can get a decent sazerac, but there won't be a menu for either," says Reza. "Barbecue is pretty laid back, and I think the bar is going to reflect that."
In the meantime, Reza is feeling about as far from laid back as you can get, running around like a crazy person trying to make sure everything is ready. They'd previously announced a Dec. 15 grand opening, but now it's slipped a day (there may very well be a soft opening for friends and family before Thursday, but that'll be an invite-only affair). Until then, Reza says he's not sure he'll be able to enjoy much of the excitement of opening his first bar. "Right now I'm just jammed for date, everybody is asking," he says. "I'll be excited once we open."
Check out Prince of Petworth's very nice photoset for an idea of what the bar will look like.