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Mar 18, 2011 06:01 AM

Local 16?

I had never even considered this place as a food destination until something popped on my radar about their sommelier. They even have a sommelier? Have people eaten here? It's really close to home and on my commute so it'd be great if it was even tolerable...


Local 16
1602 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

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  1. Nobody? I was there for the Grey Market ( a week or two ago and the brunch food looked pretty damn good... Maybe I'll have to try it out myself (the horror!)

    1 Reply
    1. re: SaraAuDust

      Tom Sietsema wrote just yesterday about how they're overhauling themselves, with an acclaimed new chef, sommelier and manager. Looks like they're trying to be more than a bourbon and ginger in plastic cup at 1 am spot.

    2. Just had an absolutely horrible experience at Local 16, which I used to go to frequently, when they were under different management. I went there with some friends because the place was sponsoring a State of the Union watching party. We got there early so we could get a table and have dinner. We were seated in the dining room, and had a good view of the TV that they'd set up in that room so people could watch. Service was uneven, and the food was fine, but not remarkable. The meal I'd give a "B".

      The real problem started when the speech started. A woman at the table across the room from us started talking loudly through the President's speech, making it very difficult for anyone in the dining room to be able to hear what he was saying. She was clearly drunk, and was not talking about the speech, but loudly to her companions, oblivious to the dirty looks that she was getting from all the other tables in the room. Finally, a friend of mine got up and walked over to the table and very politely asked her if she wouldn't mind keeping her voice down so others could enjoy the speech. The woman got very incensed and started complaining that my friend had no right to tell her to be quiet, and that she would get us thrown out of the restaurant. It turns out that she was the wife of the owner.

      The owner came over to the table and said that he had heard that we were a bunch of Republican troublemakers, and that that we weren't appreciated. (We weren't Republicans, but what's up with the partisan discrimination?) He wandered away again, and one of the staff came over to ask what the problem was. I explained that we were trying to watch the speech, but the woman was disrupting the room, and we'd politely asked her to be quiet. It was then we were told that she was the owner's wife and there was nothing that they could do about it.

      After the speech, they brought us the check, and then as we were getting ready to pay, they came over to my friend and told her that she would have to leave. We said that was unacceptable given what had happened, and that if they were going to throw us out, we were going to insist that they refund our money. Everyone around us was appalled at the way the staff handled the incident, since all were annoyed at how loud the owner's wife was.

      If you are going to invite people to come watch State of the Union, and then organize around it, why make it impossible for people to hear. I've never encountered such an imperious reaction from the ownership of an establishment. I will never go back.

      Talking to a few others outside the bar, we discovered that the bar had often mischarged customers, run other people's tabs on credit cards, and lost credit cards of patrons.

      Very disappointed as Local 16 used to be a DC standby, but it's clearly gone down hill recently.

      Local 16
      1602 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

      3 Replies
      1. re: cuisnatrix

        Can I ask why you didn't just leave and head to any other bar on U Street that was no doubt also having the SOTU on? Just curious...I would have just walked out and not paid,.

        1. re: Jeserf

          Chances are if cuisnatrix did that the server would be stuck with the bill....not really the server's fault in this case. His/her hands were likely tied considering the issue with the manager and his/her wife.

          1. re: Elyssa

            Exactly. The issue of our dissatisfaction, and settling the bill was something that needed to be addressed with management, not in a dine and dash situation. At the end of the day, they didn't pay, but it was because we asked them to refund our money, not stiffing our servers. We did feel bad about the waitstaff, who clearly have to work in terrible conditions.

      2. They recently hired a top pizza maker to consult with revamping that part of their operation, so there is some reason to believe they are turning out some serious stuff right now. I have never been.

        If it was in my neighborhood, I'd check it out.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          I wouldn't go so far as to call it "serious stuff" the menu is quite limited. A few pizzas, a burger, a roast chicken, and a series of small plates. Hard to screw up a meat and cheese plate. The lamb kebabs were chewy, and mine had hair on it. The pizza was fine, about the same as you'd get at Sette. But even before the incident with the owner's wife, it was very hard to get service. The servers didn't make eye contact, and many tables were waving their arms in the air to get their attention.

          1. re: cuisnatrix

            I am sure its difficult for them to keep good staff especially if management acts like that. Who would want to work there for $2.35 per hr plus tips?

            1. re: cuisnatrix

              So in the space of a few hours you've gone from "the food was fine" (your fist post) to your kebab having "hair on it."

              I understand you're angry, but it sounds like you have a serious gripe about a highly unusual incident that will not happen to anyone else until the next State of the Union.

              1. re: Steve

                Wow first time I've ever agreed with Steve.

                1. re: Jeserf

                  Oh, that can't possibly be true........

                2. re: Steve

                  Sorry, I should have been more accurate in my first post. The food wasn't my gripe with the restaurant. But since I'd just eaten there, and your post said you hadn't been, I figured I would mention something about the experience with the food, which I hadn't really discussed before. It's no 2 Amys, but the pizzas are not bad. The crusts are puffier/chewier than 2Amys or Sette (not a criticism, just an observation, some people like it that way), the toppings options are pretty standard modern italian fare. The arugula salad was well dressed, and exactly what you'd expect from an arugula salad. The kebab was a disappointment.

                  To your earlier point, the food was at a quality that (were it not for the management) it would make a totally serviceable neighborhood place, but not one worth going out of your way to try.

              2. re: Steve

                From what the poster said, the food wasn't the issue so much as the service (or management in particular).