News broke this morning that restaurateur Ashok Bajaj had signed a lease on the recently shuttered Zola space in the International Spy Museum — but with no details whatsoever on what the man behind wildly successful restaurants such as Rasika, The Bombay Club, and Bibiana might be putting into the space. Well, how about what's not going into the space? Reached by telephone, Bajaj shares with Eater three things that his new project will not become:
1) A "super fine dining" restaurant: "So I'm putting my thoughts together, what I need to do, what the area requires. It can't be super fine dining there, as you know."
2) A retread of one of his existing concepts: "I'd like to do something new and fun and exciting. That will be my goal."
3) An Indian restaurant: "I have modern American and I have fine dining American. ... I simply can't do another Indian. I've done three. I've done Italian. So I don't know. We'll see, as I keep thinking, keep talking, keep traveling, keep looking around, something will pop-up.
Bajaj also explains that he picked the Zola space because of its proximity to the Verizon Center, the "wonderful and historic building" in which it's housed, and also just generally being in "a happening spot." Since he didn't want to open another restaurant too quickly after Rasika West End's debut earlier this year, Bajaj says he negotiated with the developers for a spring opening, giving him time to mull over possibilities for a new concept.
Anything you particularly want to see from Bajaj — perhaps a concept that Penn Quarter desperately needs? Leave your nominations in the comments.
Ashok Bajaj [Photo: Michael J. Colella/Heather Freeman PR]