This story was updated at 11:55 a.m. Dec. 3, 2019, to correct the spelling of Tout de Sweet.
A locally owned coffee and gelato chainlet will open a location in Bethesda.
Pitango, which has five shops in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Reston, will open in the former Tapas Bar space at the corner of Norfolk and Fairmont avenues.
A late February opening is targeted for the Bethesda café.
Founder and CEO Noah Dan said the café will serve coffee from Hyattsville-based Vigilante Coffee Company, as well as gelato and pastries made on the premises.
A Potomac resident, Dan said he has looked for a Bethesda location for the 12 years Pitango has been in business.
“I just couldn’t find the right location,” he said. “I like the old side of Bethesda. It has an aspect of up and coming. There’s a lot of development and density.”
Dan, who is half Israeli and half Italian, said he fell in love with gelato when he spent summers in Italy as a child. “Every day, I would have gelato,” he said.
The gelato at Pitango is made from milk from an organic Mennonite dairy farm in Pennsylvania. He said it will be made fresh each day in the Bethesda store and will contain no additives.
Asked about the nearby coffee competition — Starbucks, Peet’s, Clove and Cedar Coffee Bar, and Tout de Sweet are all within a few blocks — Dan replied: “If you’re worried about the competition, don’t go into the coffee business.”
A former owner of a software company, Dan sold the business to find “something that would be more fun to do.” He said operating a chain of coffee and gelato shops is more fun, “but it’s still a struggle.”
The chain is named after a childhood favorite tropical fruit of Dan’s in Israel. He said his dream of having pitango-flavored gelato in his stores is unfilled because he can’t find a supplier that carries the fruit.