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Prequel hosts the latest experience in the D.C. dining scene.
Want to visit the hottest new restaurant in D.C.? It may just be getting its start at Prequel, a new complex devoted exclusively to hosting pop-up restaurants—those elusive, insider-only events where chefs, both well-known and novice, try out completely new concepts, either just for fun or to test a new business plan.
“It’s kind of like a foodie playground,” said Steve Lucas, vice president of strategy and communications/co-founder of EquityEats, which opened Prequel this spring to compliment its investment-based crowdfunding platform for restaurants.
Diners visiting Prequel can choose from multiple concepts, view the menu and purchase tickets in advance, getting a multi-course meal generally paired with drinks based on the vision of the chef. Recently, diners could choose from the United States of Ramen, a restaurant blending classic American fare with Japanese noodle dishes and Lighthouse DC, a spot serving up lobster and burgers.
The five-story, 17,000-square-foot space in the Penn Quarter neighborhood is capable of hosting up to four dinner concepts at once—for as little as a weekend or for as long as several months, and is anchored by Brick and Mortar, a cocktail lounge that may evolve to offer desserts. Also on a longer-term stay is the wildly successful Bluebird Bakery, offering pastry and coffee during the day, and a wine bar scheduled to open this fall.
Lucas says part of the charm of Prequel is the way the diners get to participate in their meals. Before each service, the chef will tell diners about the food and the concept and explain what he or she wants to achieve.
“People really like hearing from the chef and then offering their feedback,” Lucas said. “It puts them in the driver's seat.”
Prequel supports EquityEats’ core business, which enables individuals to invest money even on a very small scale in new restaurants. Unlike other crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter, which can only offer perks to contributors, Equity Eats enables investors to actually get a return on their investment, if it's successful.
While not all of the concepts are destined to become a permanent restaurant, Lucas said that for those that are also seeking funding, Prequel offers a great opportunity.
“With food, an investor really wants to know how it tastes,” Lucas said.
Prequel itself was funded through EquityEats—325 D.C. area residents invested as little as $100 each, boosting the concept to its goal of $200,000 in less than a month. Whether you are looking for an investment, or just want to stay on top of food trends, Prequel is a good bet—and one of the only spaces of its kind in the country.
“DC is trying to become a foodie destination, and this is a huge step forward,” Lucas said.