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RIA coffee shop and roastery coming soon

Zeke's facade on Rhode Island Avenue NE

Zeke's on Rhode Island Avenue NE

A new coffee shop is coming to Rhode Island Avenue in a just a few more weeks. Zeke’s Coffee will be opening at 2300 Rhode Island Avenue NE by June or July, says owner John Kepner.

The family-owned business, based in Baltimore with Kepner’s uncle at the helm, will house a roastery in the back, a tasting bar and some indoor—and eventually some outdoor—seating. But Zeke’s is not trying to compete with places like Starbucks and Cosi.

“We’re not focusing on the seating. Roasting is loud, it’s not a place you’re going to want to sit with a laptop and have a couple drinks,” says Kepner. “We’ll have counters to stand at, a small seated area with a second counter in the window—maybe big enough for 12 inside.”

The shop is about 1400 square feet with the back two thirds, or 933 square feet, for roasting and the remaining third for the retail section of the shop, he says. The roaster will work in small batches of coffee and be available for sale in their retail storefront as well as at some nearby small farmers and specialty markets.

A former Venetian blinds store, and then vacant, Kepner says Zeke’s is leasing the spot from the owners Sovran DC LLC, who helped renovate the space using their own design team. While extensive alterations and renovations were done inside, the design will keep with the era in which it was built, with a new tin ceiling and new oak flooring.

What really sets Zeke’s apart from other coffee shops and roasters in the area is the coffee tastings that will be available for both consumers and business clients.

“We’ll be brewing and doing things like structured tastings, where people can come learn the difference between a Sumatra and a Mexican and a Kenyan bean,” says Kepner. “I don’t think anyone else is doing that in D.C., let alone in this neighborhood.”

Kepner says they picked the Rhode Island neighborhood because of the neighborhood association.

“They have a great neighborhood association, the Friends of Rhode Island Avenue (NE),” he says. “They really helped us find a space. We looked at several neighborhoods, but really the excitement of this neighborhood sold us.”

Rhode Island Avenue NE has seen a number of development projects in the last year. Some of those projects include a new Manny and Olga’s Pizzeria, chef Oliver Friendly’s new restaurant at 2212 Rhode Island Ave NE, and the Woodridge Library renovations.

Read more articles by Lisa Spinelli.

Lisa Spinelli is Elevation DC's development editor as well as a freelance journalist, copy editor and mother of two. After receiving her Master of Science in print journalism from Columbia University in 2004, Lisa worked across the country and in Italy as a journalist, editor and Web editor. Her website LisaSpinelli.com has links to a smattering of her published clips.
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