NORTHEAST D.C. NEIGHBORHOODS SPROUT NEW FOOD BUSINESSES By Eden Stiff man The greater Brookland area, including the Northeast neighborhoods of Edgewood and Woodridge, is becoming home to new food options that cater to locals seeking flavor and variety. Here are just a few of the places that are popping up: BROOKLAND PINT With its wide selection of American craft beer and a kitchen that stays open until midnight every day of the week, the sister restaurant to Columbia Heights' Meridian Pint has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. Executive Chef Rebecca Hassell, a Brookland resident, turns out a locally sourced menu of comfort foods that changes with the seasons. "People come for burgers and stay for the more creative elements," she says. Right now look for housemade corned beef, the hearty Mexican pozole and a vegan oyster mushroom po-boy. The weekend brunch menu includes weekly specials and homemade cinnamon rolls and beignets. 716 Monroe St. NE, brooklandpint.com HÄLSA Just down the street is Hälsa, a healthy fast-casual restaurant in a bright and airy space. Inspired by travel abroad and an interest in healthy living, founder Emily Gaines was driven by the notion that people should eat locally and supplement with global superfoods. Steaming cups of of-the-moment bone broth share a menu with "market plates," which diners can customize with proteins such as pulled pork or chicken sausage and sides including mashed cauliflower and kimchi. Gaines is planning to host community events, including multi-course dinners for small groups; children's book readings; and speakers on topics including nutrition and meditation. "Health doesn't really end on your plate," she says. "It's how you live your day-to-day life." 655 Michigan Ave. NE, eathalsa.com GOOD FOOD MARKET To address the deficit of grocery stores in the Woodridge neighborhood, just east of Brookland proper, Kris Garin, James Anderson and Philip Sambol opened Good Food Market in late January. The 1,000-squarefoot shop stocks fresh produce from partnerships with local farms and wallet-friendly prepared foods from DC Central Kitchen. The partners surveyed neighborhood residents about what they wanted to see on the shelves and continue to add new products based on requests. "Our goal here is to figure out how to make small-scale groceries work in communities that aren't big enough to support a large supermarket chain," says Sambol, the general manager. "We want to make it easier for people to enjoy more and better meals at home." 2006 Rhode Island Ave. NE, goodfoodmarkets.com POWER SUPPLY CONNECTS FITNESS WITH FOOD By Emily Landsman If you love to hit the gym but lack the same affinity for the kitchen, Power Supply wants to make it easy. Most importantly, they want to make sure healthy food never gets boring, and the model is simple: Partnering with local chefs, fitness centers, CrossFit gyms, yoga studios and health consultants, Power Supply completes the link between food and fitness by taking care of hungry customers, including ordering, payment and delivery. Connecting food and exercise was a natural fit for Power Supply's founding partners. Cofounder Robert Morton spent the first part of his career in the software world and became a CrossFit devotee in his late 30s, paying more attention to his diet. In 2011, he met up with Patrick Smith, another software engineer and CrossFit enthusiast with an affinity for the Paleo diet, and the two decided to "make it easier to eat really well." Their other partners, who are yoga fanatics, were also heading down the healthy-eating path. Using an online order form, customers choose their meals a week in advance and then pick them up on a designated day, usually at a gym facility. They can order as few as three meals per week with a variety of meal sizes and options, and there is no weekly order commitment. A key feature of the online system is the immediate feedback from customers: Meals with high marks make regular appearances on the weekly menus, and those that don't get the best reviews might be tweaked or removed altogether. Morton describes the meal options as a "restaurant crawl in your living room." The network has grown from two to six local chefs preparing a variety of Paleo, vegetarian/vegan and "mixatarian" style meals, each presented with ingredients and nutritional information. Meals have a "chow-by" date, usually a few days, though meals can be frozen within the same time period for future use. Susan Engleson does CrossFit in Arlington and has been a Power Supply customer for over a year, saying, "The meals are delicious with variety that I couldn't come up with on my own." Power Supply is growing–in individual customers, number of meals delivered weekly and chef partnerships–and has recently started limited home delivery inside the Beltway. They also have philanthropy on their plates, contributing a portion of proceeds to local nonprofits that help people eat healthy. Power Supply: mypowersupply.com EQUITYEATS' PREQUEL BRINGS POP-UPS TO THE PEOPLE By Andrew Marder America's upscale dining is largely disconnected from the actions of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Occasionally, though, there's overlap. The 2012 JOBS Act was supposed to open up the world of crowdfunding to everyone. Instead of having to go through a lengthy SEC vetting process, small businesses would be able to offer equity in a Kickstarter fashion. Unfortunately, the SEC has yet to implement the JOBS Act, putting it about two years behind schedule. Enter EquityEats. The brainchild of Johann Moonesinghe, EquityEats seeks to match up investors with new restaurants. Using a model similar to Kickstarter, the popular online funding platform, the company raises funds and rewards investors with perks and a small piece of a restaurant to call their own. Due to the lack of action on the SEC's part, Moonesinghe and EquityEats were limited to raising money from "accredited investors," those with a net worth over $1 million or with an annual income of over $200,000. However, thanks to a new law in D.C., the investor base has exploded. In October 2014, the D.C. City Council passed a law exempting D.C.– based businesses from security laws when they raise money from D.C. residents. The change spurred EquityEats to try something new. What if, instead of just working online and trying to persuade big investors with financial forecasts, the company could bring examples of the restaurants to the general public, giving them the opportunity to invest just $100 in the concept? Prequel is the answer to the question. Located in the former LivingSocial building on F Street NW, Prequel is a home for pop-ups. "Our platform, and our mission, is all about brick-and-mortar restaurants and helping the idea-to-storefront ecosystem," says Steve Lucas, VP of marketing. At Prequel, people with an idea for a restaurant can test it out without taking on the risk usually associated with a pop-up. Prequel supplies the staff, the raw ingredients, the space and the expertise for would-be restaurateurs. It will also house pop-ups run by EquityEats concepts, allowing those restaurants to rub elbows with investors and potential investors. Prequel diners can experience the restaurant before it's realized. If they love it, D.C. residents can invest as little as $100 to get in on the action.While the business is largely focused on the restaurants themselves, investors will also get special treatment at the Prequel space, with preferred ticketing, discounts and an investors-only lounge. "People can check in if they're a high-end investor," Lucas says. "They'll have a service person [in the lounge] to bring them drinks from downstairs, and we'll have a special menu for them here." Prequel's building lends itself to the flexibility and experimental nature found in the business's philosophy. On the ground floor, diners are greeted by a massive bank of screens, displaying availability for that night's seating. Run more like a theater than a traditional restaurant, Prequel will sell tickets for specific seating times. The tickets cover your meal along with tip and any drink pairings. If you arrive without a ticket, you'll be able to see what's still available and kill time in the downstairs bar with other diners while you wait. Upstairs, Prequel has a series of dining rooms that allow for different environments to be re-created for varying restaurant concepts. In the middle of it all, Prequel's massive kitchen will turn out dishes for all of the different pop-ups. Along with a new diner experience, Prequel is also trying a new staffing system. Pop-ups will be staffed by Prequel's in-house team, so that the restaurateurs can focus on the concept behind the pop-up. Staff will be paid a living wage and receive healthcare, instead of D.C.'s $2.77 minimum wage for tipped employees. Word is spreading; during this interview alone, two servers from a high-end French restaurant came in to ask about jobs. The company has also gotten requests for private events, pitches for pop-ups, and interest from a wide range of investors. "By the end of the year, hopefully, we'll be in three or four other states," Moonesinghe says. It's an ambitious goal, but as more and more states adopt crowdfunding laws, the country is slowly opening up, putting the Prequel concept on the fast track to growth. The company plans to open its doors in April, bringing a whole new pop-up plan to D.C.–for diners and investors. Make sure to bring your checkbook. EquityEats and Prequel, 918 F St. NW; EquityEats.com
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