Bethesda Row was plenty abuzz before, but next week, three restaurants will be opening right next to one another on Woodmont Avenue. (Let the parking wars begin!)
First up is the American Tap Room, which will replace the former Austin Grill at 7278 Woodmont Ave. There’ll be a soft opening for lunch on Saturday, August 28; official opening on Monday, the 30th. When I stopped by there on Wednesday, the black-clad servers were being trained, and the final touches were being put on the interior, which features fireplaces, 16 TVs and 140 seats. As for the exterior, at nighttime, check these out: Atop the copper-awning exterior are two “fire bowls” that look like something out of the Olympics—either that, or Las Vegas. Plus there’s a neon American flag on the outside wall. The classic grill menu concept from Thompson Hospitality, the Herndon, Va. company that also owns Austin Grill, includes burgers, chicken Caesar salads and other ubiquitous options (save for calves liver, which I’m looking forward to trying). Shawn Broadhurst, one of the floor managers, told me that true to the restaurant’s name, the bar will stock beers from every state in the nation. And on Saturdays and Sundays, they’ll have a three-piece jazz combo for brunch.
Next up is Vapiano, at 4900 Hampden Lane (corner of Woodmont Avenue and Hampden Lane), slated to open on Wednesday, September 1. Lots of blond wood when I peeked in to the newest location of this international chain, where customers order pizza, pasta and salads at stations with their own electronic “chip cards.” The company’s website says that the “fresh casual” restaurant is a “very urban concept for young professionals, consisting of over sixty percent female clientele.” So get ready ladies.
And finally, Taylor Gourmet, the upscale Philly-inspired sandwich shop with two Washington, D.C. locations, will open its doors at 11 a.m. on Thursday, September 2, at 7280 Woodmont Ave. “We’re getting ready to rock and roll,” says Casey Patten, who owns the shops with his childhood friend David Mazza. The restaurant was supposed to open at the end of July but “nothing ever goes as planned,” Patten says. With the opening of the Bethesda location, there will be a couple of menu changes at all the Taylor Gourmet’s—including a few new salads, plus a line of house made roast beef sandwiches. Very cool space includes oil drum lamp shades suspended from the ceiling, courtesy of the company that recycles the restaurants’ cooking oil into biodiesel.