The Latest Dish

Fabio Trabocchi
Fabio Trabocchi

Hank’s Oyster Bar Chef/owner, Jamie Leeds, and mixologist Gina Chersevani are working together again, but this time as partners. They plan to open a new Hank’s Oyster Bar in Eastern Market, where Ba Bay used to be. Gina plans to hand-carve ice from giant blocks. In addition to the long bar, there will be an additional 40 seats plus a small outdoor patio. In addition to Gina’s 18-22 cocktails on her nautically-themed drink list, she also plans to create her own oyster stout. Eventually, Gina’s drinks will be offered at Hank’s in Dupont Circle and Alexandria. They hope to open this June.

Logan Circle Update: Aaron Gordon, owner/operator of DC’s Tangysweet, Red Velvet Cupcakery and Clarendon’s Rabbit Salad & Grille is taking over the Logan Circle space on 14th Street where ACKC used to be. He plans to offer breakfast, and wants to open in early August.

More on 14th Street: Mark Kuller, owner of Proof and Estadio, plans to open a Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant on 14th Street in Logan Circle. Chef Haidar Karoum will be at the helm of this new concept. They plan to open in late fall or early winter.

Much more on 14th Street: M Café & Bar, formerly in Chevy Chase, will reopen on 14th Street in Logan Circle in September. It’s owned by retail developer Iraklis Karabassis, who also operates Sette Osteria and who co-founded Cafe Milano. The 90-seat space will have a bar/lounge area, outdoor terrace, and two private dining rooms. Chef Nico Amroune will remain as executive chef.

Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant is moving into the space formerly occupied by BodySmith gym, which is moving down the street at the end of the year and more than doubling its space. The Connecticut-based Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant chain plans to open before end of 2012.

Columbia Heights Update: Architect Eric Gronning, who designed Jack Rose, Marvin, Cork, and Pizzeria Paradiso, and his wife Lori Robertson, decided to jump in and open their own restaurant in their own neighborhood. Maple, on 11th Street in Columbia Heights, is a 38-seat European-style restaurant and bar. Tiger maple wood was used to construct the 20-foot bar, hence the name. Eric also built the bar chairs and is working on his own lighting fixtures. The chef is Eric’s uncle, Felix Gonzales, who pre¬viously worked at a restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italy. In the spirit of neighborly support, the owners of Cork helped create the wine list. Maple is the latest in a blossoming restaurant row. The owner of Tryst, Open City, and The Diner is opening a bar/diner/coffeehouse across the street.

Kangaroo Boxing Club, a barbecue joint, will open where Acuario used to be on 11th Street, brought to you by PORC food truck founders Josh Saltzman, Trent Allen and Chris Powers and Solly’s Tavern co-owner Peyton Sherwood. The name dates back to a college drinking bet about being able to beat a kangaroo in a boxing match. The 39-seat spot will serve an expanded menu from the food truck. Peyton will also create a craft-cocktail list along with about 10 beers. It is slated to open this summer.

Pleasant Pops food truck owners Roger Horowitz and Brian Sykora plan to open a market and cafe at 18th and Florida this summer. Pleasant Pops used Kickstarter to crowdsource (aka raise) $20,000 for the store. It surpassed that goal with more than 300 donors. The farmhouse chic décor includes old barn wood and farmhouse tools. It will sell four rotating seasonal pop flavors plus eight standards. There will also be sandwiches, salads, cheeses, milk, eggs, and jams from the same farmers who provide Pleasant Pops with the fruits they use to make their pops.

Chef & GM Update: Bridget Kelly has been named the new general manager for Del Frisco’s Grille, slated to opening July at 1201 Pennsylvania Ave, NW. She hails from Massachusetts where she was GM for sev¬eral Burtons Grill restaurants in Boston and Burlington, MA. Rob Klink was named exec¬utive chef for Del Frisco’s Grille. Previously he was executive chef for Turnabout Grill in Owings Mills, MD, but he’s better known around here as former executive chef for Oceanaire Seafood Room in downtown DC. BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant appointed Thomas Leonard as Executive Chef. Jon Mathieson has become execu¬tive chef for BLT Steak; previously he was at Michel at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. He also worked at Inox and 2941, also in Northern Virginia.

Renovations: Jose Andres’ first Jaleo in Penn Quarter has reopened after extensive renovations. Spanish designer Juli Capella and architect Eric Gronning have given it a more whimsical look. The menu is also new with some unusual offerings…. K Street Lounge is renovating and rebranding as Capitale, a nightclub with no food service inside. Artist Maggie O’Neill, who designed Sax, Lincoln, and Irish Whiskey Public House, is revamping the space, which will close for renovations during the second week of May and reopen in July.

More renovations and rebirth: The North Dakota Farmers Union and Farmers Restaurant Group announced plans to open Farmers, Fishers & Bakers at their Georgetown waterfront space at Washington Harbor in late fall 2012. The totally new res¬taurant will replace Farmer & Fishers, which was destroyed a year ago in the flood along the Potomac River waterfront. It will join the long-awaited reopening of Tony & Joe’s and Nick’s Riverside Grille, also shut down by the flood. They plan to open this month.

Artsy Renovations: As of May 1, the Garden Café inside the National Gallery of Art will be re-dubbed Garden Café Catalonia and feature a Catalan menu created by Jose Andres to complement the museum’s forthcoming Joan Miró exhibit. Andrés and his ThinkFoodGroup collaborated with the National Gallery of Art in 2009 for the Garden Café Espana. And also in 2011 when Café Atlantico transformed into America Eats Tavern as part of a partnership with National Archives’ exhibit, What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? Run by Restaurant Associates, the cafe will remain open through mid-Sep¬tember. It replaces the Garden Café Italia, which has been running for the past year with a menu courtesy of Fabio Trabocchi.

Renovations Correction: Shelly’s Back Room on F Street, NW did recently open its outdoor patio, Shelly’s Front Porch, The description of the additional 1000 sq ft and 50+ seats in April’s column referred to the expansion done last year, not to Shelly’s Front Porch.

Longtime friends and Local 16 owner Aman Ayoubi and Utopia Bar & Grill owner Jamal Sahri are opening a subterranean Brazilian lounge on U Street., NW. Located below Lost Society and Subway, it will focus on live music and performing art from Brazil. The plan is to have it open before the begin¬ning of summer.

Downtown DC Update: Thai restaurateur Oy Changsila is opening Sala Thai, a fast casual spin-off of his Sala Thai restaurants. It will open in the space formerly occupied by Maoz on M Street in downtown DC. It will focus on Thai street food. They plan to be open by June. Taylor Gourmet is planning a July opening for the downtown crowd on 19th Street, NW. It will take over the space where Mixt Greens was. They will also offer late night and breakfast hoagies on the weekends. They are collaborating with Grupo 7 on a crowd-sourced mural. They’re reaching out to customers via Facebook and Twitter to find 10-15 local artists who will design sections of the mural. More hoagie shops in Merrifield, VA and another DC location are also in the works along with the first Taylor Charles Steak & Ice on H Street.

Tom Power, chef/owner of Corduroy, who bought the building adjacent to his Shaw restaurant on 9th Street for a second restau¬rant slated to be called Velour, has changed the name and concept. The new name is Herringbone and the concept will be sim¬pler and more casual than Corduroy, offering lobster rolls rather than lobster carpaccio. A summer opening is planned.

Linda Roth Conte is president of Linda Roth Associates, Inc (LRA) specializing in making creative connections through media relations, marketing initiatives, community outreach and special events for the hospitality industry. Contact Linda at 703-417-2700 or linda@lindarothpr.com or visit her web site at www.lindarothpr.com

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