The waiters are trained, the silverware is out and the food has been ordered—PassionFish, Bethesda’s newest restaurant, is ready to open.
Chef Jeff Tunks, a co-owner of the restaurant, said Wednesday the restaurant is planning to open Friday, depending on how well the staff operates during private dinners Wednesday and Thursday.
This will be the second time Tunks and his Passion Food Hospitality partners David Wizenberg and Gus DiMillo open a PassionFish restaurant. The first one opened in Reston, Virginia, under a bit more inauspicious circumstances—it was the same week the financial meltdown struck the stock market in 2008.
Despite the rocky economy at the outset, that restaurant has been a success and led the three partners to open the new Bethesda location.
“The two communities are similar,” Tunks said. “In Reston there was a lot of chains when we opened. We were a chef-driven, local concept and I think people appreciate they could stay in Reston and have a downtown-style experience. We feel the same way about this restaurant in Bethesda.”
The restaurant is at the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda avenues, across from the Bethesda Row Barnes & Nobles. Tunks said the partners signed the lease for the location when the Lot 31 project was just a hole in the ground. Since then the Flats apartments and The Darcy condos have been developed on the site and are now open.
“We thought it was going to be an ideal corner, sort of the epicenter of what downtown Bethesda has become,” Tunks said.
The restaurant will share many of the dishes developed at the Reston location. Tunks highlighted its popular fresh seafood selections, which range from soft shell crab and swordfish to rockfish and rainbow trout, prepared based on the customer’s order and served with a choice of sauces.
“We found, pun not intended, that people want to be the captain of their own seafood ship,” Tunks.
The two locations will share an executive chef—Chris Clime—who has been with Passion Food Hospitality for nearly 15 years. The Bethesda location will also feature expanded sushi offerings. The sushi chef is Jonathan Goh, who grew up in Gaithersburg, and comes to the restaurant after a stint at the fashionable high-end Japanese restaurant Nobu in Miami.
The restaurant seats about 180 people, including 30 on an outdoor patio that wraps around the corner of Bethesda and Woodmont avenues. Inside, there’s a four-sided bar, sea-themed art and a modern design that gives the space a breezy feel.
Update – It appears the restaurant is now looking at a Monday opening, as of Thursday morning:
Opening Monday! https://t.co/BOMHD4p7He
— PassionFish Bethesda (@PassionFishBeth) September 17, 2015
Chef and owner Jeff Tunks inside the kitchen at PassionFish Bethesda.
A fish mural hanging in the back dining room.
All photos by Andrew Metcalf
Dinner menu via PassionFish Bethesda website.