O’Donnell’s Sea Grill closing July 27
Owner hopes to open small market and cafe
O’Donnell’s Sea Grill in Gaithersburg, the 91-year-old institution that’s been serving rum buns and Norfolk-style seafood dishes to generations of Washingtonians, is closing July 27, and owner Bill Edelblut says he’s “just tired.”
Edelblut, grandson of founder Tom O’Donnell, who opened the original restaurant downtown in 1922, said that “business is fine. It’s not a question of that. I’m ready for the next chapter in my life. I’ve been doing it for 40 years…I want to do something different.”
O’Donnell’s had a couple of locations over its miraculous span, including one on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda that lasted for 45 years. That locale closed in 2001. The Gaithersburg restaurant opened in 1997.
Edelblut said he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife, daughters and grandchildren, and is also hoping to open a small market in the area that might include a bakery, fresh fish, prepared carryout food, and maybe a few café tables.
As for O’Donnell’s, he said that “in a lot of ways we’re a dinosaur. People nowadays are looking for that trendy kind of place.”
Nevertheless, such a longtime restaurant does become part of the community. “There are a lot of great stories and memories from O’Donnell’s,” Edelblut says. “I will miss that side of it.”
311 Kentlands Blvd., Gaithersburg, 301-519-1650, www.odonnellsrestaurants.com