Almost a year and a half ago, Jeremy Barber and Justus Frank made their longin-the-works dream come true by opening Charleston-inspired restaurant Live Oak on Commonwealth Avenue in Del Ray.
Now Barber and Frank are branching out with their second concept in the neighborhood: Charlie’s on the Avenue, which will open in the same building Fireflies occupied for 15 years before taking its final bow on Christmas Eve.
The new concept, which the business partners hope to open by May 1, aims to serve high
quality, locally sourced food in a casual neighborhood setting at an affordable price point.
“It’s going to be somewhere that serves a variety of lunch-friendly items, all at a modest price point that’s great for carry-out as well,” Frank, who oversees all things back-of-the-house, said. “… Being where we are on [Mount Vernon Avenue] itself, we both think it’s conducive to a lunch restaurant.”
Frank said the restaurant will offer a lunch menu from Monday through Friday with a number of farm-to-table salad options, sandwiches and entrees. During the weekend, Frank and Barber envision the restaurant becoming a game day destination, something they say is lacking in the neighborhood.
They plan to introduce an extended 3 to 8 p.m. happy hour during weekdays. The restaurant will have 12 to 16 taps, Barber said, with everything from cocktails to wine
to beer available. In addition, the two want to apply for an off-premises liquor license in the future in order to introduce to-go alcohol selections like growler fills.
The partners, who both have children, also want the restaurant to be kid-friendly and plan to offer an all-inclusive kid’s meal for $6.
Charlie’s on the Avenue will also serve a wide array of sharable appetizers, including spiced, steamed, peel-and-eat shrimp, mussels with grilled bread, pork and veal meatballs, chicken and dumplings and chili. Entrees will include a rack of smoked baby back ribs, a flame steak quesadilla, spaghetti and meatballs and a two-piece fried chicken dinner, among other selections.
“Whether it’s at Live Oak or at Charlie’s, it’s all very much from-scratch cooking,” Frank said. “It will have a casual approach, but the attention to detail will not be
The idea for Charlie’s was in the works long before Barber first contacted Fireflies owner Marylisa Lichens last fall. Frank and Barber have a number of concepts they want to do over time, but the former Fireflies location at 1501 Mt. Vernon Ave. stood out to them.
“We’re happy we ended up where we did because of the location of Fireflies and its proximity to our first restaurant.
We felt that if we’re going to open a second business, it would be nice if we were close enough, yet different enough from our first business to reach all corners of Del Ray,” Frank said.
Charlie’s will be a family-focused venture in more ways than one. Barber and Frank are brothers-in-law and first began discussing the possibility of opening a restaurant when Frank married Barber’s wife’s sister.
The restaurant is named after Barber’s grandfather, Charlie, who he also named his daughter after.
There’s also Barber and Frank’s second family – the neighborhood – who they asked for feedback before deciding what their second concept would be.
“Most of it is Jeremy conversing with bar guests and patrons, asking ‘What are you guys
looking for in another neighborhood spot and what do you think this place is missing and what would you like to see?’” Frank said.
In many ways, opening a new concept in the former location of a long-running restaurant is Barber and Frank’s M.O. The two opened Live Oak in the location where beloved restaurant Monroe’s operated for almost 20 years.
“There’s a lot of positive that comes with it because you’ve got a lot of people who are excited about something new … You’re basically taking a legacy and creating a new one. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Barber said.