Lebanese Taverna will be closing March 10, after a decade at the corner of Arlington Road and Elm Street in Bethesda.

In a note that will be posted on the door of the family-owned restaurant Monday morning, the owners have written, “It’s been a wonderful 10 years on this corner and we are sad to say that we will be closing our doors and not renewing our lease.”

In an email to Bethesda Beat on Friday night, Grace Abi-Najm Shea, one of the owners, said her family was unable to reach an agreement on a new lease with Federal Realty Investment Trust, the Rockville company that owns Bethesda Row. “It’s really sad for us, but we just couldn’t come to an agreement with Federal,” she wrote.

Lebanese Taverna, which serves Mediterranean cuisine, is one of the largest restaurants in Bethesda, with seating for 150 people in its wood-paneled dining room and another 60 in a lounge.

The Abi-Najm family emigrated to Arlington, Virginia, from Lebanon in 1976 to escape that country’s civil war. Three years later family members bought a modest restaurant in the Westover neighborhood of Arlington—and renamed it Lebanese Taverna.

Today, the family operates five full-service restaurants (excluding the Bethesda location), four fast-casual cafes (including locations in Rockville Town Square, Congressional Plaza in Rockville and downtown Silver Spring), and a market in Arlington.


In Bethesda Magazine’s Best of Bethesda Readers Poll, Lebanese Taverna was voted the “Best Lebanese Restaurant” in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.

In the note announcing the closing, the Abi-Najm family said, “Thank you for supporting us for so many years not just in Bethesda but all over Montgomery County.  Please continue to visit us in Congressional and Rockville Town Square and even Tysons Galleria, just a few miles down the road in … Virginia. Yes, you can cross the bridge!”