This article originally appeared on Eater DC.
When first-time restaurateur Justin Logan opened Ruta del Vino last November, he joined what was a burst of restaurant activity on Petworth’s Upshur street. Along with the likes of Timber Pizza Company, Himitsu, and the rebranded Hank’s Cocktail Bar, the neighborhood had the makings of a dining destination in D.C.
Over the past year, Logan says he’s relished the opportunity to showcase Latin American wines to the local clientele, including some offbeat bottles and styles that other bars and restaurants might hesitate to sell. The hardest lessons have come from forming a reliable staff, as well as wrestling with consumer demand for cocktails.
Eater recently caught with Logan to discuss the ups and downs of year one, including the joys of controlled chaos in the kitchen and the mystery of trying to predict dining patterns.
How has the first year in business measured up to your expectations?
Justin Logan: What I’ve told people is that the highs are really high and the lows are really low. Hopefully you sort of wash out all in the middle. It’s a constant learning thing. The sort of Rumsfeldian “unknown unknowns” were significant, both with respect to building out the space and running the place.
Was there anything menu-wise you wish you had done differently?
JL: I’m a wine guy. I’m interested in wine and enjoy drinking wine. But as you know, cocktails are really the thing. People are just crazy about cocktails. So I increased the size of our cocktail list because there was this seemingly bottomless thirst for cocktails.
(Photo by Ruta del Vino)
Travis moved to D.C. in 2007 has written about the city's diverse food scene for a number of outlets over the years, including Eater DC, Washington City Paper, Washingtonian and DCist, where he was formerly the food editor.