Former James Hoban general manager Larry Holden is bringing a Spanish tapas spot called Costa Brava to 1837 1st St. NW this winter.
The restaurant industry vet, who's also been a general manager at The Front Page, Latin Concepts restaurant group, and now-shuttered Savino's Cafe, says Costa Brava takes inspiration from his Spanish heritage.
Last summer, Holden spent a few weeks in Barcelona and the rugged coastal area that borders France in Northeast Spain called Costa Brava. The region inspired the name of the restaurant and its seafood-heavy small-plates menu.
Dishes will likely range from around $6 to $11 or $12 and include calamari with cherry peppers, a Valencia orange salad, lamb chops over pureed chickpeas, lobster-stuffed portobello mushrooms, and sea bass with caramelized fennel. There will also be a meat and cheese section and a seafood paella for two. Holden says he developed the menu with input from two local chefs, but he declined to name who will lead the kitchen at Costa Brava until the contract is finalized. The drink menu also isn't finalized, but it will include five or six cocktails, Spanish, French, and Argentinean wines, and Estrella beer on tap.
Holden has two business partners: a CPA named Henry Bruce and local DJ John Bowen, who's in a band called Empresarios and owns a video and graphics company called Video Killers. European and Spanish music will play a big part in the restaurant. Holden has applied for permits that he hopes will allow for Spanish guitar during brunch and DJs during weekend evenings.
Holden describes the look he's going for as "Barcelona meets 18th Street Lounge." The downstairs will have a more cozy, rustic feel with Spanish tiles and a burnt Sienna color scheme. The high-ceilinged second floor will sport a more modern look with a bar spanning the length of the space, high tops, and stone arches. Holden also hopes to have patio seating out front and on a second-floor garden terrace.
Holden grew up in the restaurant business in Colorado, where both his mother and his uncle owned Italian restaurants. He washed dishes, waited tables, and eventually became chef of his uncle's restaurant before moving to Washington in 1989 to pursue a career in politics. He worked for former Sen. Hank Brownof Colorado, handling national security and foreign affairs, and later became chief of staff to former Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut.
He left politics for the restaurant industry, where he's spent the past decade building up enough experience to open a restaurant of his own. If all goes as planned, it will open in November.