The Royal: “A coffee shop and lunch spot by day, and an intimate bar and casual eatery by night”


From a press release:

“As Washington, DC grows and expands, residents are more and more looking for their “own” neighborhood spots, and they’ll soon have one. Expected to open in late spring 2015, The Royal will be a classic corner neighborhood joint located in the heart of DC’s historic LeDroit Park neighborhood at 501 Florida Avenue, NW. A coffee shop and lunch spot by day, and an intimate bar and casual eatery by night, The Royal will be a unique all-day destination for morning coffee, leisurely lunch, after-work cocktails and simple yet creative fare.

The intimate and versatile split-level corner spot aims to be a central “hub” for the neighborhood, connecting residents and visitors within a welcoming, accessible gathering space. In the morning, The Royal will boast a full espresso program, brewing up Counter Culture coffee for those on-the-go or looking to spend a leisurely morning, along with breakfast offerings and fresh juices.

Come afternoon, The Royal will offer one all-day menu, described by owner Paul Carlson and Chef Lonnie Zoeller as “our families’ comfort food presented as elevated bar snacks to complement the uniquely crafted cocktail program.” Inspired by both Carlson and Zoeller’s familial ties to Colombia, fresh meats, seafood and vegetables will be prepared on the wood-fire grill and accompanied by an assortment of house sauces.

The Royal’s beverage program will focus on craft cocktails, helmed by beverage director Horus Alvarez. The underlying theme behind the cocktails is simplicity – fresh ingredients, fruits, herbs – used in an array of both classic and signature cocktails. The bar will boast an extensive vermouth selection, featuring a housemade vermouth on draft. Carlson sourced a vintage ice shaver from Guatemala, which will churn the base for creative shaved ice cocktails, available year-round.

The Royal will also offer a small yet well-curated wine list of approximately 8-10 wines by glass, plus some unique reserve bottles and draft and bottled beers. The goal is to offer drinks that are simple, approachable, and affordable.

This is the second project from Carlson, who opened Vinoteca just six blocks away at the corner of 11th & U Street NW in the bustling U Street Corridor in 2007. For his second venture as a restaurateur, he decided to join forces with his parents and sister, all who live nearby. Carlson believes The Royal will be an integral part of the neighborhood and something he’d like to see more of in DC.

“The restaurant scene is developing nicely in DC, but it’s missing that personal character that helps define a community,” says Carlson. “In NYC, from neighborhood to neighborhood, they have very small, personalized restaurants that satisfy the communities that they’re a part of. We want to be that for LeDroit Park. This neighborhood is full of young professionals, families and longtime residents; a very tightknit group. Having a true, approachable corner neighborhood joint will allow us to bring people together and be a central hub for the community.”

The Royal’s name was inspired by the building’s previous life, Royal Liquor Store in the 1990s. The intimate split-level space will open to a dimly-lit, welcoming bar area with high ceilings and communal dining table. A focal point of the bar will be the restaurant’s custom-made four-foot wood-burning grill, churning out fresh meats and vegetables. An open staircase leads to a second-floor, loft-style dining room with rustic exposed brick walls, original fireplace and seating for 12.


The Royal is a classic corner neighborhood spot located in Washington, DC’s historic LeDroit Park neighborhood at 501 Florida Avenue, NW. A coffee shop and lunch spot by day, and an intimate bar and casual eatery by night, The Royal will be a unique all-day destination for morning coffee, leisurely lunch, after-work cocktails and simple yet creative fare. The second project from restaurateur Paul Carlson, the split-level, 45-seat gathering place is expected to open in late spring 2015.”


28 Comment

  • This is very exciting. Glad to see something coming to that corner. From the looks of it, though, that timetable may be a little ambitious.

  • They have blocked the entire side of the building for over 6 months with dumpters (still there) eliminating 3-4 parking spots for the neighbors, they kept the sidewalk super dirty during construction with junk and else – truly no regard for residents. I am not looking forward to noisy customers – at all!

    • 1. They have a permit for the dumpsters which they pay the city for. Residents don’t own the street.
      2. I have not noticed any trash strewn on the sidewalk. If it’s a concern for you, call DCRA. It’s certainly no different than the chicken bones and trash that has existed there.
      3. Why would you assume customers would present a noise issue? It doesn’t sound like anything they are proposing presents a noise concern.

      I don’t understand this sort of attitude at all. Youd prefer an abandoned storefront that encorages loitering, crime, drugs, and all the associated ills? Let’s not halt progress and tax paying businesses and customers that improve the neighborhood In fear of change and the big “G” word.

      • I’m excited about this place, but they should have called it “Siren” for all the sirens that will deafen anyone inside from all the traffic on FL Ave.

        • It’s true. Every Bistro Bohem customer suffers from permanent hearing loss. Unfortunately, future customers of this establishment are doomed to the same fate. No wonder not a single person actually lives on Florida Ave.—it’s impossible.

          • ledroittiger

            Done it for four years. Not ideal, but you just sleep with tons of fans/humidifiers creating white noise.

      • palisades

        You don’t get it. They should be able to gut and re-purpose this building on a busy street corner without inconveniencing ANYONE. EVER. Oh and how could you POSSIBLY not make the connection that the construction workers will be the only patrons when it opens as well?
        So out of touch, Tim.

    • Put your pearls down. This place that is practically on top of a dozen bus lines. And the Shaw Metro. And five CaBi Stations. And walking distance from downtown.
      Can we just, for ONE second, please stop focusing on the “rights” of drivers? This is a CITY.

  • YUM! Very excited about this place. Sounds lovely – coffee, jugos, cafecitos, . . . some good music . . . And good location!

  • Nice! Vinoteca remains one of my favorite spots in the city, despite the hundreds (1000s?) of places that have opened after it. I’m so excited they’re coming close to my ‘hood. 🙂

  • None of that moronic MBA-speak. This sounds like a winner.

  • Strike 1: “all day” menu doesn’t start until lunch, hence is not all day.
    Strike 2: describing wine list as “well curated.”
    Strike 3: The “everything is better in New York” paragraph.
    I’m sorry, I can never go here because I hate their press release so much.

    • The release clearly states they’ll have coffee and breakfast offerings … there also isn’t any Colombian food in DC, so currently NYC is better in that regard.

      • “Come afternoon, The Royal will offer one all-day menu…”I’m not saying that they don’t have a menu offering food in the morning., I’m saying that the menu specifically designated “all day:” isn’t offered until after noon, and is thus not an all-day menu.
        The NYC paragraph doesn’t mention Colombian food, rather it slags about 40 small independent neighborhood joints in DC: “The restaurant scene is developing nicely in DC, but it’s missing that personal character that helps define a community,” says Carlson. “In NYC, from neighborhood to neighborhood, they have very small, personalized restaurants.”
        There are a dozen other annoyances in the release (poorly-written press releases are a personal pet peeve of mine), from the weird use of quotes to set off “own” and “hub” early on to claiming that their wine list has been “curated.” But those three really jumped out at me. Sigh. I suppose all those journalism majors that can’t get a job with a newspaper have to make a living somehow. If only they had editors….

        • Emmaleigh504

          They lost me at “beverage program” and “beverage director”. Quit making up names for things that already have names!

          • And it’s *helmed* by the beverage director. Though I could almost let that one slide.

          • Maybe the person who wrote the release had been reading too much “Variety”? (That’s the only publication I know of that routinely uses “helm” as a verb.)

    • +1. Also, if you hate their press release, just imagine the clientele that release will attract. Shudder.

      • Yes, everyone tries out new restaurants based on press releases.

        • +1 Not sure I have ever bothered to read a restaurant’s press release ever, including this one. Someone just tell what kind of food there is, I’ll try it, and if I like it, I’ll return. Simple. I don’t need to read a press release.

  • I wish them luck, sounds like it could be good as long as it is as homely/non uppity as they make it seem.

    As someone who lived near this area for many years but moved out well before the new demographic moved in., I’m curious to know if local/long time residents actually patronize these kind of higher end, craft type places? These new spots that pop up in Shaw, LDO, Bloomingdale, H street etc. tend to sell themselves as a neighborhood place that everyone in the community will enjoy. Do long timers actually go? Not being cynical, I’m just genuinely curious because I left P street in Shaw before any of these trendy places were there.

  • Since when did the word “menu” turn into “program.” That is all.

  • Paul Carlson is a great guy and businessman, LeDeoit is lucky to have such a spot opening. That space has been empty for years, it’s great to see experience come in and fill it. Good luck to Paul and his team!

  • Great! This place looks like it will be amazing. I love the concept of a lunch and dinner/bar spot, especially in that part of Shaw. I can definitely see myself spending a not insignificant amount of time there in the afternoons.

    For anyone who has lived in this area for a while, the pace of change is astounding. It wasn’t like until 2010 or 2011 that there was even a proper sit-down restaurant for blocks around here; now you can barely keep up with the pace of change nowadays. I think a few more places nearby would be killer, though—there’s still a lot of room for more places to come in. I think there’s still demand, even though so many new places have opened recently. Having a place like The Diner nearby is a dream!

    Don’t want to jinx things, but do people think we could see a newly renovated Florida Ave. extend all the way down to Union Market? A few years ago I would’ve said no, but now I wonder with the new places coming in if that isn’t what we’re looking at? Anyway, can’t wait for The Royal!

  • Gee, I wonder what president this will be named after? Fillmore? Buchanan? Pierce? Seriously, with every place here named for Washington or Jefferson, I’d like to see a place named after a minor and totally forgettable president, like Chester Arthur!

    Forgetting the president thing for a moment, I’m really excited by this concept! So many restaurants underway around the 930 Club now, it’s great to have dining options. With this and other new places, I can hardly believe that it wasn’t that long ago you had to walk blocks from the club for food. Now, a kale salad or good Thai or whatever is all around there. I know that I sound like a broken record, but even I—someone who’s lived in this part of Shaw for years—am amazed at how well this n’hood is doing!

    Don’t get me wrong, I know there are still some rough areas around the 930 Club and Shaw and stuff, and you don’t want to take anything for granted, but I think this area has really turned, and there is
    no going back now!

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