Spirit Animal to Open on Capitol Hill this Spring

A sneak peek of what we can expect from Capitol Hill's latest neighborhood bar and restaurant

By Kate Hofberg

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February 3, 2016

Get ready, Capitol Hill!

Spirit Animal is opening on Broadway Avenue this spring. The cocktail bar, from first-time bar owners Paul Berryman and Izzy Guymon (Smith, Percy’s & Co.), will be a bohemian space that will offer Levantine-inspired fare (the traditional food of the Middle East, Mediterranean and Northern Africa) and craft cocktails. It’s slated to open in the spot that housed Greek restaurant The Byzantion, which closed its doors last September after 30 years in operation.

Although an exact opening date for Spirit Animal has yet to be announced, soft openings are planned for spring 2016. 

We caught up with the owners and asked them a few questions about what to expect from their new drinking establishment.

What are you most excited about in opening Spirit Animal?
Bringing a creative, fun element to our drink program. Both of us have worked as bartenders for many years, are really excited to apply that knowledge to our own project, and plan to push boundaries in our approach to crafting delicious cocktails, with our own spin on them. We’re not quite going to spill all our secrets, but we think it’s going to be a fun experience for our guests! Most importantly, and something we have both learned from working as bartenders, is that every great bar is about the people. We have really enjoyed getting to know the locals and can’t wait to weave ourselves into the fabric of North Capitol Hill.

What will be unique about this new bar?
We have tried to create a space that looks and feels original, drawing inspiration from the spiritual human/animal connection celebrated around the world. We aren’t trying to take it all too seriously though: we’ve worked hard to make it playful and relaxed, a place that will complement the vibrant community of businesses and residences that we are excited to be a part of.

Will Spirit Animal be just a bar or will there be a food menu?
We’ll have a full menu, offering Levantine-influenced (the traditional food of the Middle East, Mediterranean and Northern Africa) cuisine with a large selection of vegetarian and vegan options. We love the idea of Mezza and are hoping to create a menu offering a well rounded selection.

Are there any drinks or menu items that we can look forward to?
We are keeping the specifics of our food menu under wraps until we are ready to introduce the person who will be managing the kitchen and driving the food program, but we will say that we are very excited to see it all coming together. We also have some cool stuff up our sleeves for the cocktail menu, including a Szechuan button tequila infusion and a lucid dream cocktail we are refining.

Why do you think people will want to come to Spirit Animal?
We envision Spirit Animal as a neighborhood bar first and foremost. We want to take the experience and passion that we have as bartenders, as people who love good food and drinks, and on a personal note love spending time in a great, local watering hole, and put our own spin on it. From the cocktails, to the food, to the design of the space, we hope that we are creating something warm, inviting and unique.

Do you have other restaurants or bars in town? If yes, where?
Neither of us have owned bars before, but we have both been in the industry for a few decades. Izzy worked for the Derschang Group as bar manager of Smith, assistant general manager at Linda’s and general manager of King’s Hardware. Most recently he was general manager at Percy’s & Co. in Ballard. I have been slinging drinks for well over a decade and ran a couple of bars back in my native Australia. We met while working at Percy’s and Co. which is where we cooked up this nutty idea to open a bar together.

Do you think Spirit Animal will be a good fit in the Capitol Hill neighborhood?
We hope so! We both have deep roots on Capitol Hill, where we have both lived and worked at various points. We feel like we are in good company up our end of Broadway.

Anything else that you would like to share about Spirit Animal?
We are so grateful to the community for being so welcoming in the past few months while we have been working to get open. We are super proud of what we have accomplished so far, it’s truly been a real DIY effort. We are planning to open from 4 p.m. till 2 a.m., seven days a week, with brunch on the weekends, starting sometime in early spring. Cheers, and hope to see you soon!

What are you most excited about in opening Spirit Animal?
Bringing a creative, fun element to our drink program. Both of us have worked as bartenders for many years, are really excited to apply that knowledge to our own project, and plan to push boundaries in our approach to crafting delicious cocktails, with our own spin on them. We’re not quite going to spill all our secrets, but we think it’s going to be a fun experience for our guests! Most importantly, and something we have both learned from working as bartenders, is that every great bar is about the people. We have really enjoyed getting to know the locals and can’t wait to weave ourselves into the fabric of North Capitol Hill.