Polite Society’s Brian Schmitz discusses newest endeavor, The Bellwether


The team from Polite Society is embarking on another Lafayette Square project. Co-owner Brian Schmitz said he and co-owner Jonathan Schoen are taking over the former Element space at 1419 Carroll St., which closed last October, and refashioning it as The Bellwether.


In an email response to request for comment, Schmitz said the multi-level location was attractive for its structural elements: lots of natural light, the patio view and strong, clean lines.


“As neighbors, we appreciated Element and found ourselves there as guests quite a bit,” he said via email. “Some of our closest friends, neighbors, customers and coworkers have ties to the space and have helped shape our thinking about what it could be. It's challenging. It's a creative outlet. It feels like a natural extension of what we are and hope to become.”


Schmitz said the locations of the kitchen, bar and bathrooms will remain the same, but “there will be few if any surfaces left untouched during the renovation.”


The Bellwether will take up the third floor and the adjacent patio. The dining room will seat 64 with 24 bar seats and 50 seats on the patio. The second floor and patio will house a private event space named The Reference Room, which Schmitz said is scheduled to open a few months after the restaurant. It will handle parties of 12 up to 125, including the patio


There will be one menu for The Bellwether, which will cover patio and bar service as well as the main dining room. The menu is still under development, but Schmitz said it will include a selection of house-made pastas, plus steaks and chops, among other items.


Polite Society executive chef Thomas Futrell will pull double-duty as executive chef of The Bellwether, along with sous chef Marco Juehne, formerly of Element. The beverage program will be helmed by Travis Hebrank, who also handles those duties at Polite Society, while Sharon Harter will be in charge of pastry, bread and fresh pasta for both restaurants. The Bellwether’s general manager will be Andrew Patania.


Schmitz said that he hopes to be taking reservations by early June, after hosting a series of special events in May.


Matt Sorrell is a staff writer at Sauce Magazine.