Best friends since middle school, Casey Patten and David Mazza have a passion for their up-and-coming slice of Washington, DC, matched only by their commitment to making you the best damn sandwich in the District.
David Mazza, 30, and Casey Patten, 28, best friends since middle school, opened Taylor Gourmet, a Philadelphia-style deli and gourmet Italian market, at the end of 2008, in the ground floor of a three-story brick building at 1116 H Street NE. In the salad days before the ’68 riots, 1116 had housed a bakery, but since then it has played home to a hair salon, a crack house, and, for a time, just the rats and pigeons.
Casey Patten and David Mazza are most frequently found behind the counter of their Washington, DC, deli, Taylor Gourmet. When the friends and business partners aren’t slaving over chicken cutlets or slicing prosciutto, they take in the urban views from their respective apartments above the restaurant.
With a perilously limited budget, Mazza and Patten set about making the second and third floors of their new purchase into a pair of 850-square-foot, three-room bachelor pads. Patten's living room on the second floor gets all its light from windows facing south onto H Street NE.
Mazza and Patten both used off-the-shelf Ikea cabinets in their kitchens. They customized them by raising them up a few inches and dropping a sink into a store-bought table, which serves as the countertop. The pair is thrilled with the results. Even the architects they hired to work at the deli from Grupo 7 were impressed: “They said, ‘These cabinets are insane. How do we get them?’” Mazza recalls.
Peeling back plaster and drywall they unearthed beautiful brick walls. They opted to leave them exposed, letting light from the street and a wall of rough-hewn red brick warm up the large living rooms and kitchens. Mazza's living room sofa is from Crate and Barrel.
Washington was handing out chunks of cash to local businesses to jumpstart private investment on H Street NE as part of its $95 million Great Streets Initiative. Mazza and Patten applied for a grant to fund the roll-up garage door that opens onto the street, allowing patrons to dine en plein air despite zoning restrictions on sidewalk tables. They received $20,000, and though it didn’t cover the full cost of the door, it went miles in differentiating the deli’s facade from the surrounding block.
“We said to Grupo 7, ‘We need you to use the cheapest materials possible, but in a really cool way,’” Mazza recounts. Chain-link fence poles hold up the racks of food in the market and support the grid of lights on the ceiling.