Seafood distributor Profish is, for many local restaurants, the source of key ingredients for fish-and-chips or ceviche or bouillabaisse. But the wholesaler is moving into the restaurant business, too: Profish will open a seafood market and casual restaurant in the up-and-coming Ivy City neighborhood later this spring.
The restaurant will be called Ivy City Smokehouse -- think smoked fish more than meats -- and it will be built atop one of Profish's warehouses, at 1356 Okie St NE -- just a few blocks away from the apartments and restaurants going into the old Hecht's building, as well as Union Kitchen's expansion.
The first floor will contain a market, and the second floor will be a restaurant with a large patio. Guests will have the option of purchasing fish from downstairs, and bringing it up to the restaurant to be cooked and served, or ordering from a regular menu. John Rorapaugh, the company's director of sustainable initiatives, likened the concept to restaurants he encountered while fly-fishing in the Caribbean, which would be positioned near docks to cook the catch of the day and some simple side dishes for returning fishermen.
Ivy City Smokehouse will serve Profish's smoked salmon, whitefish, trout and more, said Rorapaugh. "We embrace the name. Obviously, we’re going to be smoking in-house. It’s going to smell like applewood or hickory, or whatever we’re smoking with." They'll also give customers a view of the smoking process, and welcome them into the kitchen for educational demonstrations.
Ivy City Smokehouse will grow its own produce on a rooftop patio, which will contain seating in warmer weather. Ron Goodman, Profish's chef, is overseeing the concept, but they'll be hiring an additional chef to focus just on the restaurant. Design-wise, expect an industrial-chic warehouse aesthetic, but unlike other restaurants in D.C., they don't have to fake it.
"We want it to be rustic and not super-finished looking, because it’s a building from the 1940s," Rorapaugh said. "We like the charm of it."
As for the seafood market on the first floor, Rorapaugh anticipates that customers can check a mobile app that Profish is developing to see what is in the market that day. Since they're a block from New York Avenue. he says it's a quick detour for commuters to stop by and pick up some fresh fish. "We’ll actually come out the car to bring it to them," he said.
Ivy City Smokehouse, 1356 Okie St NE. Expected this spring.