The owner of Arucola Osteria is closing the Italian restaurant in Chevy Chase and transforming it into a venue focusing on crab feasts.
Tim Walsh tells Eater he wanted to give his food truck-based catering company, Capital Crab, a permanent home. He’ll close his neighborhood pizza-and-pasta place at the end of the month.
Walsh says the space will host private dinners and parties for regulars through the first week of April. After a six-week rustic renovation, the space (5534 Connecticut Avenue NW) will reemerge as a new full-service restaurant called Capital Crab and Seafood. Blue crab season starts next month.
Arucola’s longtime executive chef will stay on with plans to preserve popular orders like lobster ravioli, linguini with mussels and clams , and pistachio-crusted salmon. During peak crab season, entree selections will be limited.
Lobster will be served year-round, and Alaskan king crab will come in during the fall. The majority of the seafood house’s products will be sourced from the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. A menu should be ready in a couple weeks.
Meanwhile, Walsh says he’s finalizing a deal to plant another Capital Crab right on the water this season. A new open-air garden would sit next to District Winery in Navy Yard.
Located along the Anacostia River a few blocks from Nationals Park, the outdoor setup will feature live music, crabs, and beer. Capital Crab will operate Saturdays and Sundays at a to-be-announced date. Last summer, Walsh operated a crab feast pop-up in Navy Yard, parking his truck at Living Classrooms Foundation’s education dock at The Yards Marina.
Catering services with his Capital Crab food Truck will continue as usual. Walsh works with East Coast and Louisiana purveyors to throw D.C. parties heavy on corn on the cob, hushpuppies, slaw, and crab mac and cheese. He also serves crawfish and oysters from the truck parked behind the Avenue, his American bar and events space in Upper Northwest.
Walsh’s house spice seasoning of mustard seed and salt is designed to be doused on everything from shrimp to mac and cheese. The entrepreneur, whose first hospitality job was at Bethesda Crab House 20 years ago, has been on the prowl for a permanent home for Capital Crab for more than a year now.
“There’s not many crab places in D.C.,” he told Eater last year.
Family-style patio tables at Arucola will be painted navy and will be joined by tall lemongrass planters outside. Clean blue-and-white striped awnings will line the two-story space. Other seafaring accents will include wreaths made of rope, blue vinyl seating, and trough sinks as hand washing stations. The bar will also boast an extensive beer can collection to play up Walsh’s drink of choice to pair with crab.
Walsh, who lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and four kids, has had a super busy year. One block south of the incoming Capital Crab, The Avenue just debuted a new daytime co-working cafe on its third floor.
He’s freed up a little time by cashing out of his ownership stake in Sixth Engine last month. After seven years, Walsh and partners at Long Shot Hospitality handed off the historic firehouse-turned-restaurant in Mount Vernon Triangle to the team behind the Pub & the People in Bloomingdale.