Shaw residents now have a new café option in their neighborhood: Uprising Muffin Co., a bakery and cafe from first-time restaurateur Donnie Simpson Jr.
The restaurant, which sits right outside the Shaw/Howard U Metro station on the Green Line, is at 1817 Seventh St. NW. The fast-casual spot offers muffins in 35 rotating flavors, everything from your traditional blueberry and lemon poppy seed to savory options such as bacon, egg and cheese. The goal is to have each muffin contain less than 10 ingredients, said Simpson.
Uprising also features grab-and-go sandwiches and salads, along with coffee and espresso drinks, featuring coffee from Annapolis-based Ceremony Coffee Co.
Simpson has been crafting the idea for the muffin shop and café for the past four years, when he said he had a “light bulb moment” and left his job in the radio industry. (Simpson is the son of longtime WPGC host Donnie Simpson.)
“I saw the donut craze, the cupcake craze, and I’m a big fan of donuts and cupcakes, but there was another pastry that I personally love that hadn’t been done quite on the same level,” Simpson said. “So we put together a muffin shop … to really make the muffins the star of a show.”
Uprising soft-opened on Friday and immediately began seeing a steady stream of customers, Simpson said. After four years of planning, the response has been overwhelming, he said.
“I would love to say that I was ‘Mr. Smooth’ and all that, but I was completely freaked out by it. I’ve been working on it for so long … so when the day comes, it was nerve wracking,” Simpson said. “But people were coming in, saying great things about the muffins … it was easily the greatest day of my professional life so far.”
Other new restaurant news around town:
• Barrel: The former 18th Amendment location in Eastern Market has officially been reborn as Barrel, an upscale casual restaurant and bar at 613 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
The whiskey-focused bar includes nearly 100 different kinds of bourbon, rye, Tennessee whiskey and scotch. The menu from executive chef Garret Fleming includes twists on classics, including a Carolina barbecue pork sticky bun and andouille sausage with clams, grits and shellfish broth. The restaurant opens daily at 4 p.m.
• Cheesetique: There’s no location yet, but Cheesetique is on the hunt for a third location, checking out spaces from Northern Virginia to D.C. to Montgomery County, according to a new ” Cheesetique #3” Facebook page.
The cheese and wine shop/restaurant combo currently has locations in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria and in Arlington’s Shirlington neighborhood.
Cheesetique owner Jill Erber is very publicly chronicling her search for the next location on Facebook, telling followers last week that she’s already looked at 20 spaces.
“Biggest lesson so far: There are tons of beautiful spots out there, even if we can’t afford them all,” she said. Erber is working with Nick Papadapoulos of Papadopoulos Properties to find the space.