Inside Jake’s Tavern, Shaw’s New Alternative to Pretentious Cocktail Bars

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Affordable domestic beers are a priority at the soon-to-open venue

by Tierney Plumb  Jan 23, 2019, All photos by Rey Lopez

Long-delayed neighborhood bar Jake’s Tavern is almost ready to bring Shaw a casual option for classic cocktails and blue-collar brews in a nautical setting.

Kristen Ciuba and her husband Todd Ciuba, a co-owner of 5-year-old Black Whiskey (1410 14th Street NW), are behind the two-story venue next-door to Dacha Beer Garden. The couple is hoping to open Jake’s sometime this week but is still waiting on some permit approvals from the city.

Jake’s (1606 7th Street NW) has a tavern license, so it can already serve booze. Food service might trail the opening date by a few days. And customers will be contained to the first floor for the first few months because the back patio and upstairs bar area — which will function as a private events and overflow space — won’t open until the spring.

Todd Ciuba tells Eater he insisted on serving his favorite beer, Miller Lite, in bottles and cans along with drafts of a house pilsner, Guinness, and Yuengling.

“We aren’t a grunge dive bar or super hipster cocktail bar. D.C. has enough of those,” says general manager Jonathan Fellman, a former beverage director at Red Light. “We are trying to be a normal bar and part of the community.”

The opening menu will feature an assortment of bar fare, like build-your-own burgers, wings, and beer-battered pickles. There will be beers on tap and wines by the glass or bottle.

“It’s meant to be a comfortable neighborhood bar with good and honest cocktails — like a Cheers,”says Todd Ciuba, who lives in Severna Park outside of Annapolis.

Unlike his Black Whiskey bar in Logan Circle — which has packed DJ nights and pool tables — Jake’s aims to cater to a broad demographic.

“Here my mother-in-law can sit down with sandwich and glass of wine,” Todd Ciuba says.

Jake’s ropes in lots of D.C. players to fill out the menu. There will be pulled pork from Sloppy Mama’s, mugs of soup from Prescription Chicken, jerky from Jerkface, and frozen dumplings from Nomad Dumplings.

Kristen Ciuba, who is big on California reds, helped curate the wine list. She’s a registered dietician and pushed to add hummus and veggies to the app section. The menu hasn’t been finalized yet, but Ciuba promises it won’t “break the bank.”

The bar is named after the couple’s son, who plays hockey for Navy’s youth program. That academy’s blue-and-white color scheme is prevalent at Jake’s. The Ciubas take lots of family trips to the beach, which also served as decor inspiration. There’s a framed print of the same lifeguard stand Todd used to work at in New Jersey.

Jake’s is expected to operate from 5 p.m. to last call and will offer lunch service on weekends.

Scroll on for a look inside the Shaw newcomer:

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