Ivy City’s new culinary hotspot had been part of the Mindful Restaurant Group’s master plan for some time now, according to the group’s director of operations, Brian Zaslavsky. We were able to catch up with Zaslavsky recently about the inspiration behind La Puerta Verde, open since mid-January.
On Tap: What inspired the concept behind La Puerta Verde?
Brian Zaslavsky: Mindful’s founder Ari Gejdenson was inspired to create La Puerta Verde after working alongside so many passionate and talented people in the restaurant industry from Mexico. Over the years, coworkers and staff have shared pieces of their Mexican culture and cuisine with him, which he fell in love with. When the Hecht project presented itself, Ari knew Ivy City would be the ideal place to connect this newfound love of Mexican cuisine and culture with his beloved home of Northeast DC.
OT: Why was Ivy City selected as La Puerta Verde’s home?
BZ: First and foremost, Ari and Mindful Restaurant like to create “neighborhood” restaurants; restaurants that provide an integral and everyday place for people of a neighborhood to gather and connect. He saw the room for that in Ivy City and in the Northeast area in general. Ari also felt a nostalgia for old DC here in Ivy City, and an excitement for the opportunity to be a part of a neighborhood [that] was evolving in an organic and grittier [way] in comparison to other neighborhoods in DC, which he felt was a great fit for the type of unique and creative restaurants he enjoys bringing to life.
OT: Several other buzzworthy Mexican restaurants have opened around the city in recent months. What sets La Puerta Verde apart?
BZ: For one, not a lot of buzzworthy restaurants are opening in Northeast, so we are excited to be able to serve this area, including a lot of the surrounding communities beyond Ivy City like NOMA, Brentwood, Woodridge and Cheverly. We are also very proud of our chef, Carlos Camacho, who is from Mexico, and is really telling an authentic story with his cooking. Rather than focusing on one region like a lot of restaurants do, he is exploring all regions using very personal memories and family recipes to create a unique but authentic representation of the full landscape of Mexican cuisine.
OT: How has the restaurant been received by locals since opening?
BZ: The response has been fantastic. More people are discovering La Puerta Verde each week. As Ivy City is still not on the radar for a lot of DC residents, the guests so far have been mainly locals, and they are really excited to have us in the neighborhood. The fun thing for us is that we have seen young couples and their kids, people on dates, larger groups, and of course, lots of guests from the attached Hecht Warehouse resident building, and [they] all have really enjoyed themselves. So to be able to successfully serve such a diverse clientele really makes us feel that we are succeeding in being the neighborhood restaurant we set out to be.
La Puerta Verde: 2001 Fenwick St. NE, DC; 202-290-1875; www.lapuertaverdedc.com