Suma chef and co-owner Gene Sohn said he’s ready to kick start the kitchen inside this new Bethesda restaurant.
Sohn served as executive chef at nearby Mussel Bar & Grille on Woodmont Avenue for more than three years before deciding to jump ship to take over the cozy restaurant space at 4921 Bethesda Ave. that was previously home to Nest Café.
Mussel Bar’s former manager, Jay Evans, has joined Sohn in the new venture. The two partnered with co-owner Jennifer Day to create Suma Restaurant and Bar, an eatery offering modern American cuisine that will officially open next week.
“This is my shot at doing my own thing,” Sohn said, while prepping for a soft opening dinner Monday afternoon.
The name means “born in the summer” in Old English, according to Sohn, and is meant to reflect the airy feel of the restaurant, which has French doors and an outdoor patio.
The owners have rebuilt the interior of the restaurant over the past three months to give it a homey feel. They replaced the patio furniture with new tables and sofas and created a modern American menu with items such as challah fried chicken and roasted goat ragout, plus a variety of pizzas—including one that comes topped with pineapple, pork belly, jalapeno and mozzarella.
Sohn said the menu will change seasonally and he hopes to keep prices around $30 per person for a dinner entrée and a drink.
Evans and Sohn said they liked the restaurant’s location, which is near the Giant grocery store and across from Bethesda Row, because of its intimate setting. They hope they can create a neighborhood feel where local residents spot their neighbors and say hello to the owners while dining at the restaurant.
The restaurant has kept its construction process quiet—it applied for a liquor license under the name “Shore House” and the Nest Café sign still hangs outside. Evans said they didn’t want to draw too much attention so they can test the concept at a few soft opening dinners for friends and family before officially opening. The restaurant has been holding the dinners over the past few days, and one was observed by a local blogger.
Evans said they’ll swap out the Nest Café sign soon, and once fully operational, will offer lunch, dinner and weekend brunch service.
The Suma interior.
The Suma patio and exterior. All photos by Andrew Metcalf
Suma opening menu (click to expand)