Robert Wiedmaier, whose burgeoning restaurant empire includes Mussel Bar in Bethesda, as well as Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck downtown, and Brabo and Brabo Tasting Room in Alexandria, has a new project in the works: Wildwood Kitchen by RW.
Located in the former Jean-Michel space in Bethesda’s Wildwood Shopping Center, the new restaurant will feature “south of France Mediterranean cuisine—we’re going very, very healthy on this menu,” Wiedmaier said. That means no butter sauces or cream, and lots of olive oil, vegetables and fish. Think diver scallops with thyme and garlic, and grilled sardines over ratatouille. And the drink menu will focus on wine (lots of pinot noir), rather than beer.
Wiedmaier said the average check will run about $22 to $25 per person for lunch, and about $55 for dinner. The Kensington resident said he wants it be a neighborhood place, rather than a special occasion restaurant. “That’s why we have Marcel’s,” he said, adding that Wildwood Kitchen will offer the same type of service and food, “but for about a quarter of the price.”
The former Jean-Michel space will be totally renovated, and the kitchen completely gutted. The new restaurant will seat 70 people, with a small bar that can accommodate 10. “We’re completely redoing everything,” Wiedmaier said. “We’re giving it a nice, light elegant look.”
Interestingly, Wiedmaier will be giving his loyal, longtime staff at Marcel’s—who have worked for him for more than a dozen years—part ownership of Wildwood Kitchen.
“It’s the first time I’m doing something like that,” says Wiedmaier. “It’ll be a chance for them to make more money and have ownership.”
While the staff will remain at Marcel’s, “on their days off and in the morning, they’ll be working with the staff I’m hiring. They’ll be overseeing it with me,” he said.
At least one Marcel’s staffer, however, the current sous chef, will become the executive chef at the new restaurant.
Wiedmaier said he’s shooting for a late summer or early fall opening. In the meantime, he’s putting the finishing touches on a Mussel Bar in Atlantic City, which will be located in Revel, a 6.2 million square foot beachfront entertainment resort. That restaurant is scheduled to open in mid-April.
As for the project in Bethesda, says Wiedmaier, “I’m really excited about. It should be a fun place.”