Bayou, the eatery, to open downtown

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GOING PUBLIC: Last year, he dramatically opened and departed Eatonville off U Street NW. This year, he was half of Fry Captain, a food truck partnership, which is taking a winter siesta from bronzing hand-cut potatoes.

For his next act, chef Rusty Holman is helping a former employer, the Rookery, an invitation-only club in Foggy Bottom, go public with a New Orleans-flavored restaurant. Bayou is set to open at 2519 Pennsylvania Ave. NW on New Year's Eve, one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year. If it's any consolation for the chef, who turned 37 last week, Bayou won't reopen for regular service until the middle of the first week in January.

The Rookery debuted in February 2008 and counted 185 members, according to co-owner Bo Blair. "We never lost money," he says. "But we were treading water." Blair hopes the concept switch, which involves adding lunch service, yields a larger audience. Enticing customers will be po' boys, gumbo, shrimp and grits, and live jazz during dinner (followed by other acts on the establishment's newly mirrored and expanded stage).

The Rookery will close after dinner Saturday to pave the way for Blair's idea: "Surfside meets Acadiana." Those are references, respectively, to the restaurateur's casual tropical joint in Glover Park and Passion Food Hospitality 's upscale nod to Louisiana near the convention center.

The name of the future eatery might ring familiar - too familiar - for chef David Guas of the recently opened Bayou Bakery in Arlington.

"Obviously unfortunate," observes Blair, who says he hopes people can keep their bayous straight.

- Tom Sietsema

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