Lucy, an Ethiopian restaurant, will open in the building that used to be the home of Grapeseed. Credit: Andrew Schotz

Bethesda is getting a new Ethiopian restaurant, coming to the Cordell Avenue space that was home to Grapeseed.

Mekonnen Abraham will open a second branch of Lucy, a restaurant he and his wife have run in Silver Spring for about five years.

Abraham said Friday that he expects to open a Lucy in Bethesda around the middle of November.

“We want to broaden our customer base, get a new market,” he said.

Grapeseed chef and owner Jeff Heineman closed his restaurant on July 29 after about 17 years.

Abraham said he will have a menu in Bethesda similar to what Lucy offers on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, but in a different style. He said he expects to have about 10 to 15 vegan dishes in Bethesda, while retaining the main dishes from the Silver Spring menu.


The Silver Spring menu has beef, fish, lamb and pasta in addition to vegan dishes. The beef, which Abraham picks up weekly at a butcher house in New Jersey, is free of preservatives, he said.

Abraham said Lucy will have gluten-free injera, a spongy flatbread that is a staple for Ethiopian meals. Often, the injera served at other restaurants is not gluten-free, he said.

Abraham runs the business operation. His wife and business partner, Seble Lemma, is the chef.


He expects to have about 100 seats at Lucy in Bethesda. Lucy in Silver Spring has 84, he said.

He is considering whether to have live music in Bethesda, like Lucy sometimes has in Silver Spring.

“The market will drive us,” Abraham said.