Acre 121 to open at End of June in old Commonwealth space in Columbia Heights

A couple of weeks ago I gave an update on the new bar/restaurant coming to replace Commonwealth at 1400 Irving St, NW. At the time I was able to share that it will offer bbq and have a southern/bluegrass/country music component. I’ve been getting lots of emails for an update – particularly asking about the new name. It’s called Acre 121.

Acre 121 comes from the history of Columbia Heights. Apparently 14th and Irving St, NW fell under a parcel called Acre 121 consisting of 121 acres of land. It was acquired in 1881 by Sen John Sherman who then named the 121 acres Columbia Heights. Later on there was also a horse track that ran through this area so when all the decorating is completed, you’ll be seeing lots of historical photos inside.

As I’ve mentioned before the food is going to bbq style so expect to see lots of pulled pork, chicken, cornbread etc.

But to be honest – my favorite part is the music element. The band they had last night even played some Mumford and Sons! There will be live music 5 nights a week.

And the space has been opened up nicely (though some furniture will be updated):

So mark your calendars for June 29th opening.

Lots more photos after the jump.

63 Comment

  • Great! Can’t wait to try it. On a night they DON’T have live music, that is.

  • This is such a gargantuan improvement on Commonwealth that it’s preposterous. I pray the food’s good.

  • Must be a slow morning; surprised no one’s shitting on the tap beer selection. I’m willing to give it the same 2 chances I gave Commonwealth.

    • I don’t know, I see Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch, whih is an awesome beer, some Lagunitas, and an offering from Blue Point, the beer of my homeland, Strong Island.

      Seems solid.

    • they have bell’s oberon on tap. what else do you need for summer?

      • Some Southern microbrews would be a nice round out the “Lowcountry” flair they’re striving for. So long as they have Abita, that’s a great start.

        I’d also recommend selections from Sweetwater Brewing Company (Atlanta), Smoky Mountain Brewery (Knoxville), Yazoo Brewing Company (Nashville), Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery (Farmville, NC), and Lazy Magnolia (Mississippi).

  • as long as they dont charge $8 for a small mason jar of beer, i’ll give it a try.

  • It would be way cooler if they’d play some Sanford & Son.

  • andy

    can i bring my own checkers pieces to use on the tables, or do i have to use bottlecaps?

  • I miss the hell out of Commonwealth. I haven’t gone out to eat in CH since(not counting 11th street). CH above the metro is just a disaster. Commonwealth was the only inspired act to arrive on the scene, realized it was out of place and split. Not to mention they used local and organic ingrediants. I assume this place uses the same slop they serve up over at Lou’s. And don’t get me started about Lou’s

    • Pete’s is not a disaster.

      • Neither is DeVines, and I frequent the Target in DCUSA. There is also a great farmer’s market every Saturday. The area is crowded and has developed rapidly, but I see nothing wrong with it. It serves it’s purpose for the neighborhood in a big way.

      • I’m a big fan of Pete’s too.

    • Commonwealth was “out of place” because it wasn’t a good restaurant. There’s nowhere in the city that could have sustained it, mostly because British pub food isn’t very popular (or good) in 2011. Commonwealth failed, and this place looks about 150x better. Hoorah.

      And it’s actually Columbia Heights below the metro that’s the disaster, not above.

      • I’m afraid you have no idea what you are talking about. As evidenced by your assertion that Commonwealth failed. In fact it could have been sustained many places, just as it was sustained in CH. It didn’t fail at all. The owner sold it because the landlords tried to raise the rent on her (knowing it was a success) and she wanted to concentrate on Hanks Oyster Bar. Which, like Commonwealth, is a million times better than the crap getting served up in CH. I’ll agree Petes is quality, but luckily they deliver so I can get it without having to set foot in CH.

        • Commonwealth is gone, you can stop with the reach around now.

        • Most of the places in CH cater towards people in the neighborhood, not people who come from other parts of the city just to eat in a fine dining setting. I don’t think CH needs to be a “destination” like Dupont Circle or Chinatown.

          So, luckily for you, you DON’T have to set foot here.

        • And I’m afraid you’re wildly naive, Johnny. I do know what I’m talking about. See the previous post on Commonwealth so I don’t have to repeat myself. If the restaurant were making money, it’d still be there. Welcome to the world, Johnny. If Commonwealth would have worked downtown, it’d be downtown. Only PoP commenters stop making money out of principle, not people in the real world.

          Also, British pub food does, in fact, objectively suck.

          • Except for the scotch eggs; that is the one thing I enjoyed from there.

          • “Welcome to the world”. seriously?
            Few points: The concept is downtown. It’s called Againn Gastro Pub. Also I couldn’t care less that it was a gastro pub. I only cared that it had better food than anywhere in CH and it was local and organic. Lastly, the restaurant was making money. That’s why the landlords raised the rent. Your see One CAN be making money on a place but still choose to sell because; you are expanding your other restaurant, your landlords are raising your rent and you don’t like them, you hate setting foot in CH. All valid reasons to take a lump sum payout and avoid the hassle of running a restaurant for the monthly profit. At any rate I’m not sure why I’m commenting here except that I hope this Lou’s City bar guy stops after two places and doesn’t export his brand of crap to my neighborhood. Good day.

        • Johnny, the landlord did not raise the rent on the owners of Commonwealth. As you may or may not know, commercial leases have terms that outline the rent for a period of time, generally 5 to 10 years. Commonwealth would have been well within that time frame, therefore there would not have been a rent increase because Commonwealth was a “success”. Next time, know the facts before posting.

      • Please not again. There have been at least 5 threads on the closing of Commonwealth. The clear consensus – it both rocked and sucked.

    • This can’t be a serious comment. Commonwealth’s stock had been dropping since the day it opened

  • Props for coming up with a cool name.

  • I was there and the place looks like it is going to be awesome. I think they have done this right, and it brings something to CH that is not present – a venue for some live music!

    Yes, there is Bloombar but you cannot have a can of DC Brau in hand there while you tap your foot to the music. I’ll definitely be back!

    @Johnny – inspired is not a word I would use with the food, service or anything that I ever experienced at Commonwealth. To each their own, but I feel this is a huge improvement over CW.

    • That’s great – and they are all in Petworth. There is a lot of live music on U St, too.

      Up to this point there is not in Columbia heights.

      • saf

        No they aren’t. They are south of Petworth, in Park View.

        • bfinpetworth

          I assure you most people associate those places with Petworth. You can argue technicalities all you want. Parkview is barely recognized by people that don’t live there.

        • The metro is in Petworth, north of Rock Creek Church Rd. You could say that the west escalator is not.

        • I don’t really care if people don’t know exactly what neighborhood something is in. As long as businesses are doing well close to my house, you can say it’s in Candyland-hood for all I care.

          ie–I for one am not horribly offended if someone incorrectly identifies a restaurant in an adjacent neighborhood.

        • I think we can safely transfer the neighborhood inferiority complex crown from Bloomingdale to Park View.

    • Wonderland has live music.

  • I miss Commonwealth. I miss my corner table next to the bar listening to The Cure on a rainy Monday afternoon having a Bells. Bluegrass and BBQ just doesn’t do the same thing for me.

  • As long as they didn’t keep the same douche-bag bartenders from CommonWealth they should be off to a good start!

  • Is there enough traffic in the CH bar “scene” to sustain 5 nights a week of live music? I’ll visit if I don’t have to scream over redneck folk rock 90% of the time.

  • Moar live MUSIC!!!

  • Why can’t we have real country music instead of just “americana” and “bluegrass”?

    • I have looked for that for a long long time, I’d like to open a bar called the Texas Embassy…

      There’s Remington’s on Penn Ave SE, or you have to go out to Nick’s in Alexandria.

      9:30 Club had Pat Green & Wade Bowen a couple months ago, that’s in in the District proper…

  • I don’t know, I’ll certainly give it a shot but I miss Commonwealth. Their tap line was excellent and I really don’t understand the hating on the food. It was British pub food, so completely understandable if that’s not your thing, but it was done well (see roasted brussel sprouts).
    BBQ? Isn’t there enough of that in the city already?
    Like the idea of live bluegrass, but wonder how they can sustain that for 5 nights a week in CH…

  • If the food is good, I’m sold! (This goes for every other restaurant in the city.)

  • Bloombars is great for live music. They have open mic on mondays and live music sundays and some saturdays. I don’t think it’s a big deal if there is no booze b/c

    1) wonderland and room 11 are each on the same block as Bloombars;
    2) it’s a volunteer run community art and music space so I would support that place and local artists than some rich club owner;
    3) I think people drinking and talking interfere with the live listening experience at small spaces like that.

    • Agree with all three points, only trouble is they all result in a need to charge a cover. That’s a very hard hurdle to clear unless there’s a fair amount of promotion for the band. Some place that makes its money pouring pints and gives a cut to the band tends to have more music because it’s a better arrangement financially for both.

  • Is this place owned by the people that opened Lou’s? Because, Lou’s is pretty terrible.

    • It is, and I agree. However, I’m hoping that the food is different, the chef is better, and that this is not your typical “bar food.” Otherwise, get ready for another big disappointment!

  • I look forward to sitting outside and having my laptop stolen to the sound of live music.

  • Happy to have a business willing to invest & open up in the neighborhood, which means more options & jobs & people watching. Also, here’s a novel idea – give it a try & then judge for yourself. You may actually like it.

  • This is the same owner as Lou’s, so don’t get your hopes up. Lou’s is crappy deep-fried bar food in the worst sports bar in DC.

  • I love how so many places are serving pulled pork / bbq in our city lately (Standard, American Ice Company, others and now this). Hopefully this will be a good value.

    I love this type of food but was totally uninterested in commonwealth’s menu even though I tried the place

  • Checked it out tonight, my thoughts:

    Decor: overall, they did a very nice job. I love the new wood floors and the open lay-out. All of new fixtures are great and it feels really open. Stage is perfectly situated. I wish they had kept the copper bar from Commonwealth, it would have really suited the vibe and a lot more interesting than the needless, expensive-looking replacement. Glad they ditched the TV’s, there are more than enough places to see a game nearby, with the mirrors it feels even more open. The vibe right now feels a bit spartan, there are tons of blank walls and I think it would suit a bluegrass / country / bbq place to add a little more color / character / quirkiness, rather than just be essentially a blank slate. Maybe down the line …

    Food: somewhere in between Lou’s and Commonwealth in terms of quality. So basically, OK. Prices are VERY low considering the neighborhood, rent, the fact they have live music. Unfortunately, that is reflected a bit in the quality of the ingredients — the pulled pork was not nearly tender or juicy enough, just not super high caliber meat, and the tomatoes in the fried green side dish were not top-notch, didn’t have a tremendous consistency. Also, they could have really used a lighter touch in frying those tomatoes. So the food is just OK, and probably the best you can expect at the very low price point they offer (most items in the 8-16 range), but I’d personally rather see prices go up a couple bucks to enable better quality ingredients, than just settle for mediocrity.

    Entertainment: the best part of the experience for sure. The band playing tonight was really great, if they continue to get acts of that caliber and style, I will be there often to drink, at least (and the beer selection is very solid), if nothing else.

    Service: surprisingly had their act together despite it being opening night. Plentiful servers and staff and everyone was very nice. Well done.

    Overall, a great addition to the ‘hood. If the food was about 20 percent better, I’d be a regular for sure. But I am happy they are here, even if am still bummed Commonwealth left. And they are a heck of a lot better than Lou’s, at least …

  • So we ventured out last night to try it. Our BBQ standard is high (husband’s son’s team just took grand champion at Memphis in May) and the Washington Paper article did not inspire major confidence. Beer/wine menu was good and we enjoyed the good sized Farmstead Salad with blue cheese, dried cherries and walnuts.

    I went for the shrimp and grits with visions of Acadiana and Johnny’s Half Shell in my mind. I set the bar too high. The shrimp were tasty but the grits were really bland. Mixed in with the shrimp sauce they took on a good flavor. Hubby went for the pulled pork combo. Not awful but also not good. Side of beans were flavorful. Side of potatoes not so much. Pork was just passable. No smokiness and the sauce was boring.

    Like the other reviewer we thought the music was great but even seated around the corner it was difficult to have a conversation. We know better then to go there for a date night when we actually want to speak to each other. Saw one couple come in with a baby and turn right back around and walk out. Although we have kids I am really ok with that and prefer nights out to be sans babies. Saw another couple with a 7 or 8 year old come in to eat.

    Decor is definitely missing something. It is very much a blank slate that could maybe use some photographs to illustrate the history of the name.

    We will try again in a few weeks to see how the menu improves.

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