Broccoli Bar serves &pizza pies with a side of community activism

Media Credit: Margot Dynes | Senior Staff Photographer

Broccoli Bar, which serves pizza and cocktails and acts as a platform for social empowerment, opened its doors Thursday in Shaw.

Restaurant chain &pizza and event organizers Broccoli City, two businesses born in the District, joined forces to open Broccoli Bar this week.

Broccoli Bar, which serves pizza and cocktails and acts as a platform for social empowerment, opened its doors Thursday in Shaw. Only steps away from the Shaw-Howard University Metro station, the restaurant located at 1817 Seventh St. NW offers some exclusive specialty pies and cocktails that separate themselves from the typical &pizza offerings.

Michael Lastoria, the co-founder and CEO of the &pizza chain, and the co-founders of the “social enterprise” Broccoli City, met at a film festival in Austin seven months ago. After Lastoria spoke at a Broccoli City conference, the seed for Broccoli Bar had begun.

The windows of the Shaw restaurant have been covered by graphics incorporating images of broccoli and ampersands, melding the symbols of both brands. But this week, the signage was peeled off the windows, unveiling a glass storefront that sits next to a large outdoor patio.

Darryl Perkins, one of the founders of Broccoli City, attended nearby Howard University, which he said spurred his excitement to open the shop.

“It’s so incredible and kind of beyond what I could imagine to be opening a place where I used to go to school,” Perkins said.

Some similar style choices like the iconic black and white color scheme of &pizza joints remain, but the layout is refreshing and open compared to their usual storefronts. Orders are placed at a counter just past the bar, a feature that distinguishes Broccoli Bar from its mother company, which has a “create-your-own” concept. Plants hang creating a halo above the cocktail bar, which carries out onto the patio of the restaurant.

Broccoli Bar serves individual pizzas familiar to &pizza menus from 11 a.m. to midnight, and until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Broccoli Bar even has a brunch menu, and beginning Nov. 3, it will serve brunch-inspired pies alongside “weekend bubblies” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

“Everybody loves brunch, nobody’s ever upset at brunch,” Perkins said.

Three brunch pizzas were added to the menu for the new shop, including the “Cinnamon Toast Brunch” pizza made with sweet ricotta, cinnamon sugar, banana and agave, topped with cereal crunch and mint. For a more savory evening option, the “Mad Cheddar,” a broccoli and beer-cheese pizza, is exclusive to this location.

Eleven different cocktails, like the “Rum N’ Rolla” made of rum, Thai tea, lemon and winter citrus, also grace the menu.

The Broccoli Bar will also host an extended happy hour, dubbed “The Vibe,” from 6 to 10 p.m. each night, offering discounted cocktails and DJ sets. The DJ booth stands atop a column that reads “undefined,” a word Perkins said was the essence of Broccoli Bar.

“We really wanted to create a vibe, an after-work vibe,” Perkins said. “In D.C. you can go out late, but sometimes there’s something missing if you have work the next day.”

He said Broccoli City, a company that hosts music festivals and conferences in D.C., wanted to integrate their mission of assisting “thriving urban communities that sustain future generations.”

With this guiding vision, the Broccoli Bar team will also host volunteer events, spanning topics like urban agriculture. The restaurant utilizes an app, Chipen, where diners can earn gift cards and concert tickets through volunteer work.

The restaurant will also conduct “Broccoli Talks,” a bimonthly “town-hall” style event where locals can gather to discuss topics concerning local education, business and art. Anyone can be a part of this dialogue for no more than the cost of their meal.

On Nov. 14, Christopher Bradshaw, the founder of Dreaming Out Loud, a D.C. nonprofit in urban agriculture and entrepreneurship, will be the first of many local leaders to moderate one of these events.

“It’s about gathering people and getting them to come with ideas and execute them in real life,” Perkins said.

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