D.C. seafood stalwart D.C. Coast is closing its doors. The restaurant's last day of business will be New Year's Eve.
Passion Food Hospitality made the decision to close the restaurant following discussions with the building owner. The building's management was looking for D.C. Coast to expand into a larger, 15,000 square foot space, which the partners didn't see as a fit for the longtime restaurant, according to partner David Wizenberg. "We came to the mutual conclusion it was best to part ways," he said.
It's been a long road for D.C. Coast, which opened back in June of 1998. At the time, K Street was a very different place. "At nine o'clock, it would be prostitutes everywhere; they just came out of the woodwork," he said. He remembers a time when partner Gus DeMillo chased a group of working ladies down the street, brandishing a giant pepper mill. "I've never let him live that one down," he said. "No right hand turn" signs, designed to discourage prostitution in the area, interfered with the restaurant's ability to run its valet service, too.
But D.C. Coast persevered; years later, nearby 14th Street would become the city's hottest dining neighborhood. "I think [DC Coast] really helped develop not only the confidence of people to go downtown, but the growth of the whole 14th Street corridor. I love that we were a part of that change," he said.
The restaurant also had to evolve over time. It's been through three different renovations and several chef changes. Wizenberg remembers complaints when the restaurant first opened that the wine list, with bottles mostly under $40, was actually too affordable for the clientele. "I used to say you're more than welcome to pay whatever you'd like for this wine," he laughed. But they did evolve the list to feature more "power wines," and at one point were averaging two bottles of wine per table. The growth of the American craft spirits industry is also reflected in the restaurant's bar program. Some dishes, though, like the tuna tartare and smoked lobster, have remained on the menu since the beginning.
D.C. Coast plans to go out with a bang, with a multi-course dinner planned for New Year's Eve. They'll also bring back some of the restaurant's classic dishes from the past, like a porcini-crusted halibut, a pork chop and a whole striped bass.
Once the restaurant closes, Wizenberg will turn his attention to what's next. And that means the return of a long-shuttered favorite, Ten Penh. The company will bring back its pan-Asian restaurant, which closed in 2011, in a new format, this time in Tysons Corner. They're in the final stages of negotiating a lease. Don't expect the exact same restaurant, though. "It certainly will be a complement to what we did at Ten Penh," he said. They'll add a sushi bar, fire pits outside, and some contemporary changes to the menu.
All in all, it's a bittersweet time for Wizenberg. "We are just so grateful to our loyal guests, and our staff as well — that's what really makes a restaurant a success," he said.