Pound Coffee Gets Boozy

The popular D.C. area coffee shop will now operate a restaurant and wine bar after 5 p.m.

Following in the footsteps of other D.C.-area coffee shops -- and, notably, Starbucks -- Pound the Hill (621 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) has launched a new bistro and wine bar, for when caffeine just isn't enough.

Pound will now act as a full-service restaurant from 5 p.m. daily, closing at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on weekends. Traditional coffee and tea options will only be available from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, but the bar will stay open until 12 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

"People kind of perceive just the coffee," said co-owner Karl Johnson, but adds that Pound the Hill has more to offer than that.

Describing the approach as a “dual concept under one roof,” he said the new Pound is “not something you’ll ever find anywhere else.” 

An updated menu featuring more internationally inspired cuisine than before. Menu items include cordon bleu croquettes as an appetizer and coq au vin dumplings as a main course. Johnson said the additions were inspired by the three owners’ backgrounds in world travel and world cuisine.

To help, they brought in Chef Jonathan Taub, who served previously as the sous chef at Art & Soul and Station 4. “We were looking for a chef who had the same inspirations as us,” said Johnson, and the goal was to “pull flavors from all over,” to create something unique.

As for the new selection of beer and wine on the menu, the owners worked with several local distributors, including one of their regular customers, Aziz Shafi, owner of Tannic Tongue. "His immense wine knowledge and ability to source some very small batch boutique wines was a natural fit to partner with for this venture," said Johnson.

Some menu items however, reflect the shop’s original design. Desserts such as the Nutella baklava play off of the popular Nutella latte, featured on Pound's coffee bar menu.

Johnson, hopes the change will help Pound attract a new set of customers, and he said he suspects that almost every coffee shop will switch over to this format eventually.

“We recognized more and more that the coffee shop business is a slow-moving business,” he said.

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