Whoosh, pop. Whoosh, pop. Whoosh, pop! Is that an espresso machine operating with locally roasted beans? Craft beer cans carefully opened? A ping-pong table being used by neighborhood denizens? You guessed it: all three. That’s Colony Club in a euphonious summary, combining thoughtfully sourced food and drinks with a healthy pour of community and family spirit.

The entrance to Colony Club on Georgia Avenue (photo by Carol Liscovitz).

The entrance to Colony Club on Georgia Avenue (photo by Carol Liscovitz)

Way back in the sepia-toned era, a Jewish couple owned a store up Georgia Avenue called Colony Flower Shop. In 2015, on the very same street, their grandson Max Zuckerman opened Colony Club, a coffee shop/bar/gathering space. Max, unsurprisingly, has a pretty deep local Jewish pedigree. His parents were raised here, and he went preschool at Adas and later attended JPDS. After leaving the DMV for college, he returned to take up residence on the flourishing H Street Corridor, and even had a stint working at Sixth & I. At home, his parents cooked the traditional Ashkenaz delights, making sure the family came together at mealtimes. That is, of course, after a round of competitive ping-pong.

Though Max never got the cooking bug, he did get smitten with home chemistry—beer and coffee, to be exact. Over in that H Street house, he dabbled in homebrew beer and fell in love with espresso creations. In its yard, there was a permanent table-tennis setup. “I had this dream of making a ping-pong and espresso club with my roommates,” he tells us. They’d invite over neighbors, play a round and have a couple drinks.

A few pong sessions later, and a dream was born. His Wiseman cousins (of DGS fame) aided with the business plan, his brother assisted in securing the space and other family members came in to help with interior design and construction. In fact, on the day of my visit, Max was hosting a birthday party for his mother Rudy, complete with specialty cocktails and a balloon man. Talk about family support.

Colony Club owner Max Zuckerman and his mother Rudy (photo by Evan Caplan)

Colony Club owner Max Zuckerman and his mother Rudy (photo by Evan Caplan)

As for the Georgia Avenue location, “We felt a connection to the neighborhood, given the flower shop my grandparents ran. But also, one of the main goals of this place is to serve as a community meeting place. We didn’t want to open in an area that already had a bunch of food/beverage options. We wanted to offer an amenity to the neighborhood, and we want people to feel like this is their home away from home.” In effect, a clubhouse.

And Colony Club excels in emitting that neighborhood vibe. Tables up front play host to skinny-jeaned types attached to laptops, while the long wooden bar under exposed ceiling steel beams is much livelier, and the communal couches and back patio provide relaxed gathering spaces.

The menu is simple and short (there’s no kitchen to speak of) and entirely chef-driven, curated to match the environment. It’s at once accessible to the person who wants a quick beer, but also has the depth to interest the patron who wants to chat with the barista and spend time savoring her drink. The food—cheese, fish, charcuterie—is sliced and served on the spot, impeccably plated. These smoked, dried and cured foods offer up something of a nod to the Old Country and Max’s roots. While grandma likely ate smoked fish with rye, she probably didn’t do it from an international package graced with beautiful artwork, nor did she eat it on a wooden board accompanied by caraway seed-flecked flatbread, butter, lemon and herbs. And certainly not paired with local beers, wines from family-owned vineyards and handmade potato chips from a California father-son duo.

A cheese and snack plate (photo by Evan Caplan)

A cheese and snack plate (photo by Evan Caplan)

Mornings mean baked goods like scones, biscuits and, our favorite, rugelach. Of course, the shining star is the coffee program at the brew bar. Choose from AeroPress, Kalita or Chemex pour-overs for your third-wave coffee fix. Add a splash of small-batch milk from Five Acre Farms (dairy-free options available!), and that’s simply Colony in a cup.

“Our objective of creating a neighborhood gathering space could be described as a Jewish one,” Max says. “I think there’s a connection between the concept of Shabbat—taking time out of your normal routine to pause and reflect and enjoy time with loved ones—and the concept of the coffee break. That moment of slowness is really valuable, be it a five-minute espresso or a Shabbat dinner.” And maybe a game of ping-pong with your friends.

Colony Club, 202-722-7202, 3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC, Monday–Thursday 7 am–11 pm, Friday 7 am–12 am, Saturday 8 am–12 am, Sunday 8 am–5 pm.

Top photo: Colony Club’s simple and friendly snack menu (photo by Evan Caplan)