This year has been a rollercoaster for Capitol Hill's beloved hash brown haven, Glo's. The restaurant managed to survive the worst of the pandemic, and in March owner Julie Reisman announced plans to move to a new space in the neighborhood, giving them twice as much room as the cozy but cramped 830-square-foot storefront on E Olive Way.
More than $300,000 was raised in the "Glow Up" campaign, and the staff was prepared for a busy summer, with diners finally returning to restaurants in droves for the first time since the pandemic began. Then, a fire. Glo's was forced to close in June.
But now, neighboring bar Captain Blacks has agreed to host a Glo's pop-up every weekend through December, which should help keep the embattled brunch spot afloat.
"Obviously, it had an impact," Reisman said of the fire over the phone earlier this week. "We were about to have our first real summer of sales in three years, and now we don’t have that. Financially, it definitely set us back."
"That’s not my primary concern right now," she added. "The pop-up is allowing us to keep our staff. Everybody that we have has been with us for a really long time, and we need them to open up the new spot. Everybody is really excited about that, and we’re trying to figure out how to take care of them and how to retain them. Our insurance coverage allows us to keep the staff if they’re working at all. This is an opportunity to be able to do that."
Before COVID, a typical weekend service at Glo's would burn through about 2,400 eggs and 360 pounds of hash browns. The operation at Captain Blacks is much smaller. "Their kitchen is already super small, and to add a separate restaurant to what they’re already doing, they’re making as much space for us as they can," says Reisman. But even with limited space, Glo's has been able to bring back some of its most popular dishes.
On the menu: a Belgian waffle, a two-egg breakfast with bacon or sausage, and three different kinds of eggs Benedict because "that’s what everyone’s sad about losing," says Reisman. And there are hash browns, of course.
The pop-up will run until December. After that, Reisman says she hopes to either move back into the old space—where they're still paying rent and repairing fire damage—or else set up shop in the new space. Whichever is ready first. Though, a move into the new space would mean goodbye forever to the iconic pink and teal Olive Way cafe.
"I’ve come to terms with the idea that after spending 21 years in that space that it’s a rather unceremonious goodbye," Reisman says, laughing. "I’ve emotionally dealt with that. Steve [Frias], he's been my business partner for 15 years, we’re just like, 'Man, is that how it ends?' We’re just going to have to wait and see what happens, we’re just kind of winging it."
The Glo's pop-up runs every Fri-Mon from 9 am to 1 pm through December at Captain Blacks, 129 Belmont Ave E. It's all outside seating. Follow Glo's on Instagram for updates.