Helen’s The Bar moved a step closer this month to opening.
The new restaurant being planned by longtime Washington, D.C., caterer Helen Wasserman began renovating the former Addie’s location next to Hank Dietle’s Tavern.
“Construction will basically start next week,” Wasserman said. “The crew that’s going to do construction will probably get it done quickly.”
She says she doesn’t have a firm opening date, but hopes to move her catering business into the building by June and then open the restaurant soon after.
Wasserman took over the building last year and planned to open her restaurant by late summer, but the project was delayed by the building’s poor condition, Wasserman’s busy holiday catering schedule and a snowy, frigid February.
The 1,800-square-foot building at 11120 Rockville Pike was constructed in 1954. Restaurateur Jeff Black opened his first restaurant—Addie’s—in the building in 1995. He closed the popular eatery in 2013 after failing to reach an agreement with the landlord to repair the aging structure.
Wasserman said she knew that updating the space would require much work when she leased it.
“The landlord basically said, ‘Take it as it is or walk away,’ ” Wasserman said. “It’s an old building and it hasn’t been well-maintained over the years.”
She said crews will be working over the next month or two to bring the building up to code and renovate it in a way similar to renderings she shared on Facebook last year. Some of her plans for the new restaurant had to be nixed, like installing a smoker, Wasserman said. County officials told her the ceilings were too low for using one inside the restaurant.
However, the setbacks haven’t diminished her excitement about opening her first brick-and-mortar space after catering for more than 35 years. She’s planning a menu with a mix of Asian, Spanish and Southern comfort food with items like meatloaf, short ribs and seafood.
“I just love the location and I think it’s going to be absolutely super when it opens,” Wasserman said. “I don’t give up on projects. Over the years there have been tough times, but you just don’t give up, you just keep going.”
The former Addie's location will be the home to a new restaurant by D.C. caterer Helen Wasserman. Credit: Helen's The Bar Facebook page.