The man who helped kickstart D.C.'s cupcake craze has moved on to the danish. Red Velvet Cupcakery owner Aaron Gordon, who's also behind Drafting Table and Red Light on 14th Street NW, has closed his Penn Quarter frozen yogurt spot Tangysweet and replaced it with a Viennese-inspired coffee house and pastry shop called Bakers & Baristas, to open Jan. 21.
Gordon's travels to Vienna and its famous coffee houses inspired the concept. "I had a lot of pastry there and just thought it was absolutely wonderful," he says of his most recent trip two years ago. And while D.C. bakeries are filled with cookies and brownies, he finds it's impossible to find a decent homemade danish.
Gordon says he talked to the Danish embassy about his idea and asked if they might be able to help him find good pastry chefs or consultants. "They said, 'There's no one, and there's not a single danish in this town...' They were so excited."
Pastry chef Naomi Gallego, who works for Blue Duck Tavern, was ultimately tapped to consult on the opening menu. Lindsay Meehan, who also oversees Red Velvet, will be the ongoing chef. Bakers & Baristas takes full day to make its danishes. "It's layer upon layer, impossibly thin layers, of dough that are proofed, chilled, proofed, chilled, rolled, chilled, etc, etc," Gordon says. "It's just an unbelievable process."
Beyond danishes, the place will serve a variety of other pastries, like sacher tortes, large macarons, fruit tartlets, and chocolate croissants. There will also be simple sandwiches on housemade bread plus Compass Coffee.
Red Velvet Cupcakery will remain open next door, but there will be no crossover with Bakers & Baristas' menu. "Cupcakes don't belong in a Viennese-inspired bakery, and Viennese pastries don't belong in a cupcake shop," Gordon says. He's also not worried about the baked goods competing with each other: "They're completely different items."
Bakers & Baristas will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to start and expand until 11 p.m. after a few weeks.
Bakers & Baristas, 501 7th St. NW; (202) 347-7895; bakersandbaristas.com
Photos by Jessica Sidman