Acclaimed R Street restaurant closes its doors

The vegetable plate at Nido
The vegetable plate at Nido

Nido, the acclaimed, affordable counter-service offshoot of Magpie Café located in the old Magpie space on R Street, has closed.

“We tried to do what we could to remain a meaningful presence on the block, but it seems like time to move on,” Magpie and Nido co-owner Ed Roehr said.

Roehr and business and life partner Janel Inouye opened Nido at 1409 R St. after moving Magpie, their popular farm-to-table restaurant, to a larger space at 16th and P streets.

Nido served coffee, beer and wine as well as scratch pastries, sandwiches, salads and other items made from carefully sourced ingredients. Most menu items came in substantial portions and cost $12 or less. A large pile of Nido’s memorable, herbaceous “zesty chicken wings” – which made The Bee’s list of 10 best dishes of 2016 – cost $8.

“We made food that takes a lot of time and a lot of people and expensive ingredients” at Nido, Roehr said. The cafe did not draw enough patrons to sustain this business model.

R Street Corridor has changed since Magpie moved into the cozy brick-walled space in 2009, Roehr said. It is has become more late-night oriented, with spots such as Iron Horse Tavern and Burgers & Brew open into the wee hours on some nights.

“We never wanted to be open until 3 a.m.” at Nido, Roehr said.

Roehr and Inouye will move their bakery operation from Nido to their Yellowbill Cafe on 14th Street, and are putting the R Street space on the market.

“A killer Korean-taco place probably could do well here,” in catering to the late-night crowds, Roehr said.