Roofers Union Opens in Adams Morgan, Have a Look Inside and at the Menu

2446 18th Street, NW

A few weeks ago we took a pre-preview of Roofers Union located in the former Reef space. They’ve now opened – here’s lots of details from a press release:

“Roofers Union (2446 18th St NW; 202-232-7663) is now open in the heart of Adams Morgan where Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley is serving inventive tavern food starting at 5pm daily, alongside an innovative cocktail program and an impressive list of local draft beers and wines.

Just steps from Columbia Road, in a loft-like setting with floor to ceiling windows overlooking lively 18th street, the team behind popular Ripple is dishing up hand stuffed sausages on house made pretzel rolls. Maintaining a menu of sustainable cuisine, Marjorie works closely with Border Springs Farm and Autumn Olive Farms to source whole animals. A variety of sausages including the andouille corndog with cheddar whiz, the spicy Italian with peppers, onions and melted provolone and the chicken sausage with wild mushrooms and taleggio arrive on the table after five days of preparation. Her process begins by breaking down the proteins, grinding, stuffing, and hanging the sausages before they can be loaded with house made condiments or vegetable toppings, served hot with perfectly thin, crisp potato chips. A host of stacked sandwich options like the fried chicken thigh with sriracha honey and the BLT with fried egg on a sourdough bun, elevate classic American food. Not to be overlooked is a delicious assortment of snacks including trotter arancini with garlic aioli dipping sauce, veal sweetbreads po’boy and cauliflower served with mint and pine nuts.

The menu, which has evolved since quietly opening earlier this week, reflects initial customer feedback that focused on the need for an impressive bar program to accompany it. Cocktail master Josh Fatemi masterminded the cocktails ($10-$11), which are named after songs from his favorite bands. A Texas native and longtime musician, Fatemi serves up David Bowie’s “China Girl,” which uses mandarin shrub along with St. George Terroir gin, Zirbenz pine liqueur, lemon juice, Champagne and rosemary garnish. The Radiohead inspired “Punch up at a Wedding” is a spin on classic picon punch and the “I’m Old Fashioned” is named for John Coltrane’s popular record, combining two ageless cocktails, the old fashioned and sazerac using Rittenhouse Rye, spiced gomme syrup and orange oil poured over a perfectly clear, large chunk of ice. Though just opened, the team is already looking to build their small batch bourbon and rye program and will incorporate them into future cocktails.

An impressive 22 taps allow Beer Monger Dave Delaplaine to have some fun with the selection of beers, which includes 10 local drafts ($6-$12) from breweries like 3 Stars, DC Brau, Atlas, Port City, and Lost Rhino. Delaplaine has something for everyone, rotating in some funky seasonal beers as well as two non-pasteurized, non-carbonated cask conditioned ales, as well as gluten free and non-alcoholic options.

Not to be outdone, the wine list is growing daily and features 12-16 wines by the glass ($8-$18) at any given time. Ciders, normally relegated to the corner of the menu, have a place to shine at Roofers Union, which will feature three by the glass regularly.

For this neighborhood restaurant managed by Daniel Lobsenz, everything started with the sausages and was further inspired by the beautifully renovated space, designed by owner Roger Marmet’s wife Betsy Marmet. Named for its gorgeous rooftop deck, opening in March, Roofers Union hopes to provide a sense of community for neighbors and their friends and families. Plans for the future include happy hour and brunch. Reservations are accepted.”

You can see the full menu here:

Roofers Union Menu (PDF)

Huge windows dominate the second floor overlooking 18th Street:


Lots more photos and the cocktail menu after the jump.

1st floor bar

Cocktail menu:

Punch Up at a Wedding
Bigallet Viriana China China Amer
Lairds Apple Brandy Bonded
House Grenadine
Lemon Oil
Served on Cracked Ice

Rittenhouse Rye
Zucca Amaro Byrrh Grand

Blood orange Shrub
House Bitters
Flamed Orange
Served Up

China Girl
St. George Terroir Gin
Zirbenz Pine Liqueur
Mandarin Shrub
Lemon Juice
Rosemary Sprig
Served up

I’m Old Fashion
Rittenhouse Rye
Spiced Gomme Syrup
Orange oil
Served over a Big Rock

Alligator Wine
Fords Gin
Diep 9 Young Grain Genever
Dolin Blanc
Basil Peppercorn Syrup
Celery and Lemon Bitters
Served up

Red House
Maker’s Mark
Raspberry and Blackberry Shrub
Served Tall


Second floor:









56 Comment

  • wow this looks infinitely nicer than Reef

    • It really does

      i wonder what they have planned for the rooftop

    • Cluttered kitsch on the wall? [Check]
      Overly bright table lights? [Check]
      Requisite bland interior colors? [Check]
      Lack of distinct personality due to overly-anglo design tastes? [Check]
      Faux-eroded paint on exposed brick? [Check]
      Flat panel TVs everywhere because the patrons have zero to talk about? [Check]

      Ah yes, the inevitable re-tread. Take a bar that had some character and turn it into a spit-shined showroom more suitable for selling floor treatments than to actually drink in. Bright lights, so all the nervous anglos feel at home, and a drink menu that has you blowing 20 bucks after two cocktails.

      “No, they have beer too!” you say, craning your neck and making that annoying sound of an angry anglo on the internet – yeah, no kidding sister, every bar has beer. Now this one gets to sell it in the equivalent of a roadside strip-mall with a bunch of flat-panels for the conversationally challenged patrons to gawk at.

      Just like every other cookie-cutter bar in K Street, Adams Morgan, H Street and Columbia Heights. How proud your homogenized demographic must be. Bar #274, clearly identified by the bland sameness as every other one. Nary a deviation from the plan as the interior is as forgettable as any other place catering to dog-poo gossipers and neighborhood snitches.

      Enjoy your sterile petri dish, the rest of us will be drinking where the lights are turned down, the staff aren’t supplementing their Capitol Hill jobs, and generally staying the hell out of your idea of a “great place”.

      Rest in Peace Reef, they may have ripped the very character out of the place, but perhaps you’ll get the last laugh when this bland-as-crackers bar ends up closing due to lack of interest.

  • Beer and a dog approaches $20 with tip. Plus the place looks really corny. I’m a big fan of Ripple (a bit pricey but it ain’t no hot dog), I really hope the new place doesn’t distract from Ripple.

  • It looks fantastic, and I’ll definitely check out some of those cocktails — but as others have mentioned, the food menu has a lot of “WTF” pricing choices. In addition to the $8 hot dog, you have an $8 SIDE of sweet potato fries, a $14 burger (no special toppings or premium meat).

    There’s still some solid choices there, but pricing sides and staples like that certainly won’t encourage regular diners, especially given the wealth of more affordable choices in the immediate area.

  • Why is every new restaurant/bar concept in DC trying to idealize and market the working class people of rural areas? Its revolting. Every single one of these places look and are branded to be exactly the same. Don’t believe me? Just walk down 7th street. Try harder people. Think out side your $15 edison bulbs.

    • The irony is that a lot of people in DC have profited immensely from the demise of the middle class and organized labor. I’m sure Freud would have a field day here – the tortured psyche.

    • The added bonus is that all of these concepts are using vinyl signage. Do your research people, if you want to be about that life then at the very least get a hand painted sign! Support the craftsmen that you’re “swaggerjackin'” and throw them a bone instead of cutting corners and buying HUGE tv’s.

    • Am I the only one who doesn’t read into the “revolting” subtext of the “swagger jacking” decor that is allrently destroying our society? It’s a theme. Most things have a theme. Who gives a shit if its a fake “reef” or a bogus roofers union hall. This city is waaaaay too easily offended.

    • I don’t really see what is wrong with idealizing roofers/blue collar folks. Do you feel similarly about Italian restaurants with checkered tablecloths and old Italian music? You and the others in this bit of the comment section are also making a pretty outdated and naive assumption about “workers” like roofers. I work in the roofing industry and know plenty of guys who look just like white collar workers when they go out to eat. Skilled blue collar workers can make a good living…sometimes more than the Hill staff, NGO folks, and young professionals that are the people who you seem to assume would be “comfortable” here.

      Maybe I am missing the joke here, but if you are really revolted and embarrassed by how a restaurant chooses to outfit itself, you must really be miserable about the real problems and injustices of the world.

    • Exactly. We need bars like Shennanigas where an Irishmen is at home, Pharmacy bar for the apothecary to get a drink, and (RIP) Spy Lounge where James Bond would never walk out of.

      • Personally I think shenanigans is far more offensive to Irish people than this place is to blue collar workers. And since when did blue collar workers become become an untouchable cultural concept? I mean god forbid we appropriate the culture of the 5 blue collar workers left in DC.

      • Correction: We need bars like Shennanigas where a 17 year old from Bethesda is at home.

  • about that menu…..those overalls and vintage squeegee won’t pay for themselves!!

  • $ 8 hot dog is expensive, but $16 moules is not bad.

  • Ditto everything you said. Case in point: they spelled “kraut” wrong and “accoutrements” right.

  • See, this is why I hate DC sometimes. An upscale tavern in DC is using actual blue collars as decor? Way to dispel those inside-the-beltway-1%er stereotypes. Are the restrooms decorated with vintage pension checks?

    • How long before this place ends up getting mocked on Drudge? LOL

    • It’s a playful reference to the roof. Get a grip man.

      • It’s not about the roof reference, it’s about mounting literal blue collars on the wall like hunting trophies to decorate a yuppie watering hole. MAYBE if the owner was paying homage to a family history in the roofing business or something, as it is though that visual combined with that menu is a bridge too far. It’s embarrassing for everyone involved.

        • Precisely. The uniforms just seem a little artifact-y (yeah, I know that’s not a word). As in, “Come, gawk at what these poor souls have to WEAR!” Otherwise, I think the theme is fine. There are plenty of bars out there that can be accused of lifting others’ cultures (I refuse to use the trendy and silly term) and no one seems to mind. Do you think that the people who operate Brendan Behan Pub in Boston or the dozens of Plough and Stars pubs across the country are actual Irish writers?

  • jim_ed

    Oh for Christ’s sake. A place for Chief Marketing Ninjas and Nonprofit Imagineers to enjoy the Disney experience of the working class? Artisinal $8 hot dogs? If you sent me this bar description as an article in The Onion, I’d tell you it was too over the top to be satire. Congratulations on opening Dave Shing’s new favorite bar.

    • Stefan: “DC’s hottest restaurant is – ROOFERS UNION. This place has it all – Dave Shing naked except for a half-zipped jumpsuit, wait staff wearing Wal-Mart uniforms, $8 hot dogs made from ducks, and a human blow torch.”
      Seth: “Stefan, what’s a human blow torch?”
      Stefan: “It’s that thing where you have midget SEIU strikers blowing warm air with their mouths to keep you from getting cold on the rooftop bar while you enjoy your cocktail.”

  • No, I will never stop missing the aquariums.

    • +2
      And I will never stop missing my favorite roof in DC. That place was my jam on Sunday afternoons – great people, cheap beer, and the best view of town. We lost a good one.

      • also remember the bad times, guidos dancing on 4th of july at night in sun glasses….beer in plastic cups. No one ever wanted to sit in the inside…this place is nice. people need to relax

  • Eek. The name and vague concept were bad enough, but actual uniforms and tools on the walls? Couldn’t they have incorporated “roof” into the places’ name some other way??

  • Honestly, the name and concept didn’t really bother me, until I saw the overalls. Those are just creepy — the wall looks like, well, “The Wall.” The empty uniforms seem like something out of Pink Floyd — an illustration of how the working class is dehumanized by the upper class, except this seems to be completely without the social comment.

  • Straight up expensive…. 12 dollars for a chicken thigh? 18 dollars for 3 sausages? hahahahaha… What bullshit.

  • I certainly hope that the cheddar whiz is artisanal, organic, and locally sourced.
    Seriously, this place is ridiculous.

  • i’m going to enjoy not having any of you there.

  • Did someone say Roofies? Oh wait, i feel like I am passing out…

  • You are joking right?

  • This is the new Adam’s Morgan people. Jack Rose, Mintwood, hell..even Smoke and Barrel if you compare it to Asylum. I remember when Devinos was Juanita’s Grocery or something like that. I’d expect something a little pricey with all the buzz words to come in, but they really did do a bad job for what such a big space this is.

  • It’s decorated like a T.G.I. Friday’s of the Proletariat.

  • went tonight, jeez people are harsh. they have a good tap list and beer menu. The food is dc prices but it seems like they have a solid menu…i don’t know but i will probably be up on the rooftop a lot once its nice out

  • Reef was never the same after they lost their prized puffer fish…. and that was like 2005. Without that, they were just lighted tanks of water to me, so looking forward to something new (and, of course, the re-opening of the roof). Food does seem priced on the high side.

  • If any of the insufferably cheap and economically dim witted blowhards can detail a formula for creating a hotdog or other sausage that costs less that three dollars (in order to maintain a 30% or less food cost and pay its staff, rent, bills etc…) while using non-industrial/factory products in an independant non-franchize restaurant, please, please, please enlighten the hospitality industry. You’ll earn a Nobel Prize.

  • Places open without a theme and people remark how bland they are. Places open with a theme and people remark on how pretentious they are. And both perspectives are often valid. Unwinnable, but I wonder if it also says something about the devolution of (i.e. the end) of “urban hip”.

    • That’s a valid point. I think the reason why DC struggles so mightily to be hip when it comes so naturally to so many other cities, is that a lot of it simply isn’t that old, so a lot of new places are trying to be fake old. How many bars or restaurants in DC can anybody name that are 50 years old, or even 30 years old? So we’re stuck with all sorts of ugly new construction, like a lot of Gallery Place, almost all of the Navy Yard, and the upcoming SW Waterfront project. There is nothing cool about any of these places, and everything’s going to be expensive because of the rents. And everything has to have some Disney-like theme to it, which adds to the fakeness.

  • I live in AdMo and I am excited to try this place out. Love the concept, love the decor — finally AdMo is getting some of the 14th street type love. My only suggestion would be to include a few healthy food options on the menu.

  • This whole rebranding of “DC staple” watering holes into food-centric locations can only be blamed on the need to pay the increasing rent.

    It happened with Hawk and Dove, is going to happen to Reef/Roofers Union, and it will happen to 18th amendment/Barrel. You also see it with all the restaurants who take over the newer retail spaces that all seem to look alike: Wise guys pizza, smoke and barrel, Tel Veh, Alba Osteria, and the list goes on….

    You can only expect it to get worse with the SW Waterfront development.

    • Precisely,
      I bet many places close down for the mere fact that they can’t afford the raise in rent after their initial contracts are up, more so than because they have bad business models that can’t turn a profit. I bet they were doing just fine with modest profits until the landlord wanted to jack up the rent 30-40%.

  • Rest in Peace, Reef. This is just what DC needs… another overpriced, faux vintage/ shabby chic gastropub. So original.

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