G2K a BACA Business: The Boundary Stone

“We want to make sure everyone feels welcome,” explains Gareth Croke, one of the owners behind Boundary Stone at 116 Rhode Island Ave. That’s how you wind up with a beer list that includes $3 Stroh’s side-by-side with a whiskey list that runs almost 75 options deep. Boundary Stone recently won a vote for “Best New Bar” in Washington City Paper, and that breadth – and the openness that motivates it – is no small reason why.

Gareth and Matt Croke, one of the two pairs of brothers behind The Boundary Stone.

I try mostly to spotlight newer businesses in this space, but I’ll periodically cycle back and include some more well established neighborhood favorites too. That impulse is what originally led me to Boundary Stone, but the place has already become such a neighborhood institution, to me at least, I had actually forgotten just how new it was, only opening in September.

Gareth and his brother, Matt, run Boundary Stone along with another set of brothers, Colin and Pete McDonough. Its origins date back to 2009, when Gareth and Colin, working together at Fado in Chinatown, noted the lack of any kind of neighborhood bar in their own community, Bloomingdale. Both bar and restaurant industry veterans, they saw an opportunity, put together a business plan, and enlisted the help of their respective brothers (also industry vets) to change that.

A tip to any other fellow Philly-area ex-pats: The Crokes and McDonoughs all grew up in southern New Jersey, which means you can find the Eagles, Flyers and Phillies on the TVs at Boundary Stone.

“The idea always was to open a place in Bloomingdale for everyone who lives here, in Bloomingdale, in Eckington, in Truxton Circle – really anywhere closer to here than U Street” explains Gareth, who lives at First and R.

I asked Gareth if he was concerned at all about the new restaurants and bars that seem to pop up every week here, from newly licensed Big Bear and recently alcohol-approved Shaw’s Tavern to the Czech-beer-boasting Bistro Bohem. He stopped me before I even finished the question. “Definitely not,” he said, “We can have something really unique to the city if people start to come out here on a regular basis. We’re already seeing some new faces. I’d like to see a nice, healthy little economy here. We’d much prefer this neighborhood to have small businesses with individual owners than big chains where we’re just another number.”

With Showtime Lounge in the works and SnitchEye circling the water as well (Engine Co. 12? Maybe not so much.), it won’t be long until we can have a proper North Capitol neighborhood bar crawl. And right in the middle of it, we’ll have the best new bar in the district, a neighborhood mainstay and a place where you can chase a $3 beer with a 27-year-old Scotch.

P.S. Make sure you check out Boundary Stone’s new happy hour, including half-price wings, $4 Yuengling drafts, $5 Red and White Wines and $5 Well Drinks. 4-7pm, Mon-Thurs.


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