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Astro Beer Hall to revamp basement following successful Shirlington launch and ‘overwhelming’ community support

Astro Beer Hall’s second location in Shirlington is thriving four months after its opening.

Peter Bayne and Elliot Spaisman, two of the beer hall’s owners, said they receive more patronage in Shirlington than in their downtown D.C. location at this point.

“We opened up and it was like pure madness,” Bayne said. “We had so many people coming through the door. We were just trying to keep our heads on, essentially. It was overwhelming, the amount of support and love we felt from the community. People were even more excited than we were to get open.”

The beer hall’s second location opened Sept. 19 and has seen consistent business. Bayne credits much of the Shirlington location’s success to the mix of ages and professions in the area.

“They all interact and they all are like regulars together,” Bayne said. “It’s nice to see these cross-generational friendships that happen in the neighborhood of Shirlington… I was just really happy because we clearly picked great real estate to be at and something that we know is going to be there for a long time, and just a wonderful community to be a part of.”

Spaisman and former Washington Capital Jeff Halpern were childhood friends. They opened the first Astro Doughnuts — which later became Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken — in 2013, inspired by the doughnut shop they visited after hockey practice when they were kids in Bethesda.

The pair quickly expanded the business by offering fried chicken, chicken sandwiches with airy doughnut buns.

Elliot Spaisman (left) and Peter Bayne (courtesy Farah Skeiky)

Spaisman and Halpern later partnered with a hospitality development group, Tin Shop, and conceived the idea for a donut-shop-turned-beer-hall.

The 14,000-square-foot two-story beer hall features a game room, a 140-seat patio and a full-service coffee shop. The restaurant offers brunch, lunch, dinner, a variety of beer and cocktails, and of course coffee and doughnuts.

According to Spaisman, the most popular menu items across the board are the chicken fingers and the asteroid fried chicken sandwich. The most popular drink: the ‘Woke Up Sexy Again’ hazy IPA.

Following the Shirlington location’s successful launch, there are now plans in the works to revamp the basement area with pool tables, music and visiting DJs, giving the space more of a bar feel.

“We’ve been really happy with the level of business we’ve had and we’ve had a problem where we don’t have enough seats for everybody,” Bayne said. “It would be great for the basement to really have a nightlife activity, a spot that feels that it’s going to be a bar as opposed to a restaurant.”

Bayne and Spaisman are excited to add a level of nightlife to the beer hall and are hopeful this addition will open by the spring.

“It’s a busy operation and we’re having fun with it,” Bayne said. “Overall it’s been a great success.”

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