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New mid-priced restaurant coming to Rhode Island Ave NE

A new restaurant coming to Northeast is being hurried along somewhat by the awarding of an $85,000 city grant from the Great Streets initiative.

Bill Perry, a native Washingtonian, was planning to open a restaurant tentatively titled The Public Option at 1601 Rhode Island Ave NE, by spring of next year. Last week it was announced that his restaurant (along with 28 other small businesses) would receive grant money from the city for facade, signage and infrastructure improvements.

"We're thrilled by the city's generosity," Perry says. "We got a big boost by getting included in the Great Streets grant program."

The property is in "pretty good shape" but needs its infrastructure upgraded before the restaurant can open--even before it can hire a chef. But once the construction is complete, Perry anticipates moving fairly quickly. He will hire a chef, hammer out menu details, and is "very much hoping for an opening in early to mid spring of next year."

While the menu is not yet set, Perry says it will be casual, healthy, and feature locally-grown produce. "We're targeting moderate pricing, probably in the $10-$15 range for lunches and a little bit beyond that for dinners, but not much." The restaurant will seek a liquor license for beer and wine only, and won't have live amplified music.

The $85,000 city grant—which Perry credits the nonprofit Friends of Rhode Island Ave for helping him apply for—comes with a few strings attached, one of which is that the business must employ at least 51 percent D.C. residents. Perry says he wants to hire not just Washingtonians, but local neighbors.

Perry and his wife have lived in the adjacent building on Rhode Island Avenue for three years and have watched the area evolve. "We see a huge amount of potential for the area...Flip-it is a real inspiration. I think it's terrific. We would love to live up to that standard."

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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