Occidental Grill and Seafood just wrapped a major makeover, revealing modern touches and more seating inside the 111-year-old mainstay near the White House.
The most significant change is the addition of both a new bar and dining space that ups the restaurant’s seating capacity to 140, as well as a new entrance directly facing Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The addition of bright splashes of color, earth-toned leather seating, and exposed-bulb light fixtures rounds out the interior.
Design firm Parker Torres and construction firm Jonathan Nehmer + Associates were charged with the renovation, which included relocating the historic bar to merge with a back bar to create a 48-seat lounge.
In its place is the new glass-partitioned dining area, accented by presidential portraits and a version of Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom of Speech” painting. An added curved booth hovers over the main dining room.
Some things remain as is, such as the Scali table —an ode to a 1962 meeting between ABC correspondent John Scali and Soviet spy Alexander Fomin that eased tensions around the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Its steady stream of celebrity customers over the years have been fed by top culinary talent, including alums Matt Baker (opening Gravitas) and Tom Cunanan (Bad Saint). Current executive chef Rodney Scruggs and general manager Travis Gray recently discussed the restaurant’s staying power amidst the sea of other surf-and-turf spots concentrated around The White House.
The entire renovation is expected to wrap in September.
It’s not the only local power spot to get a makeover this year: Charlie Palmer Steak plans to modernize on Capitol Hill this fall.