Asish Alfred, the young chef who bought Bethesda’s Tragara Ristorante last year, says he hopes to have his new restaurant—4935 Bar and Kitchen—finally up and running by the end of September.
Alfred said a protracted dispute with the county about the restaurant’s spiral staircase leading to the second floor private party room has just been resolved. County inspectors had said that the staircase didn’t meet the current fire code, but its solution to install a drywall barrier was untenable to Alfred, who found the staircase and chandelier in the vestibule one of the big drawing points of the restaurant.
Alfred’s alternative solution to install a protective fire-rated glass enclosure for the staircase was originally denied but has since been approved.
“The process with the county—as everybody knows—is very, very, very slow,” Alfred said.
It’s been a long haul for the 27-year-old chef, who started his lease in November 2012, with the aim of having the entire place open in about six months.
The upstairs room had actually been open as a lounge serving bar fare and as a party venue since late December 2012, but then in early spring, when reviewing plans for the first floor dining room, the county flagged the staircase problem.
Alfred decided to close the upstairs facility this summer in order to meet the county’s renovation expectations. He also wanted to take a break to alleviate the impression that 4935 is strictly a lounge; he wants it to be seen as a classy restaurant with an upstairs banquet space.
Aside from the staircase issue, however, Alfred ran into a number of other delays.
“The building was in horrible disrepair,” says Alfred, who added that construction costs thus far have totaled “just under a million dollars.” This summer, for example, he had to install a brand new air conditioning system for $25,000.
Alfred, a graduate of Rockville’s Magruder High School and the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, appears very eager to open the kitchen component of 4935 Bar and Kitchen, which he calls a modern American restaurant with a French-Indian twist.
“I’m anxious to cook for the city of Bethesda,” he said.
4935 Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, 301- 951-4935, 4935barandkitchen.com