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Former DC Coast space becoming a Le Pain Quotidien on K Street

by Prince Of Petworth January 29, 2017 at 10:22 pm 10 Comments

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1401 K Street, NW

Well I was not expecting this… DC Coast closed on December 31st, 2015. Now a liquor license placard has been posted for a Le Pain Quotidien:

“New Class “C” Restaurant with 149 seats, a Sidewalk Café with 66 seats and a Total Occupancy Load of 223. Restaurant will serve café-style food and baked goods.”

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14th and K St, NW

For those not DC Coast:

“Opened in Washington, DC in 1998, the iconic restaurant in an Art Deco landmark building was the daring first venture of Passion Food Hospitality partners chef Jeff Tunks, Gus DiMillo and David Wizenberg. They had a radical vision to open within the soaring first floor of the historic building at Franklin Square that essentially led the breakthrough for the 14th Street revival. It honored the tri-coastal regions where Tunks found his culinary passion and became an incubator for talented, award-winning chefs who got their start working under Tunks’ wing.

The Art Deco landmark was formerly a McDonald’s that bore the scars of its past: bullet holes in the walls and crime lurking outside, but the partners saw only opportunity. Tunks’ visionary approach paved the way for the area’s renewal and ushered in a new wave of contemporary American cuisine that led to critical acclaim from The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Esquire, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine as well as praise from Travel + Leisure as one of the “Top 50 Restaurants in America.” Tunks was a pioneer for DC, among that first generation bringing a contemporary spin to the American table along with Larry Forgione, Jeremiah Tower and Wolfgang Puck. Tunks’ method for recruiting culinary talent followed a similar pattern: look for the potential. The toques who cut their teeth in his kitchen before launching their own ventures have a different perspective about the closing of DC Coast—a gateway that catapulted them to where they are today…

From his team at the five star Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, Tunks tapped Chefs Linton Hopkins, now a James Beard winner in the Southeast, and David Guas, a James Beard cookbook finalist, who leapt at the chance to join their mentor. After several years as chef de cuisine, Hopkins and his wife Gina [they met at DC Coast] moved to Atlanta to build their restaurant empire, which includes Eugene’s, Holeman & Finch, H&F Bread Co., and multiple H&F Burger locations. Hopkins, who Zagat noted as “one of the city’s most prominent and important chefs,” reflects: “I’m sad that one of the true great American restaurants will no longer be a part of the DC restaurant culture. Jeff brought a brash New American cuisine with regionally identifiable foods and it was a homerun from the start. It was for his vision, palate and knowledge that I followed him, and left with so much under my belt. He is a chef not to be overlooked for his contribution to the country’s growth in establishing an American cuisine.”

David Guas remembers the early days like yesterday. Now a successful cookbook author, television personality, and proprietor of two Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery locations, he says of Tunks, “There’s no one else I’d rather have worked 80-to-90 hours a week. His work ethic and high expectations carried us right along with him through opening to what became the hottest ticket in town—and for good reason. There’s no doubt that our intensive training under ‘Big Daddy’ set many of us up for our own successes.”

Brendan Cox now owns and operates Oakleaf, a farm-to-table restaurant in Pittsboro, NC. James Clark is executive chef at Carolina Crossroads at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill. Closer to home, chocolatier Jason Andelman is now proprietor of two Artisan Confections in Northern Virginia.

Thanks for the memories, DC Coast, and for the fine dining, civic leadership, culinary stewardship, and maybe most of all, for raising the bar for bold new restaurants in the nation’s capital and beyond.”

  • nancy

    I remember the McDonald’s in that spot all too well. I was a volunteer with Whitman-Walker and from time to time did outreach to prostitutes (14th street was DC’s red district then). At McDonald’s around 10-11pm, would find several women taking a short break and try and chat with them. Gave away a whole lot of condoms, not sure how many lives we saved, but we tried. For me that building will always represent prostitutes on coffee break.

    • wpk_dc

      Interesting perspective/memories +1

  • Ross

    Weird. I hadn’t been to D.C. Coast in years, but it used to be a favorite of mine, especially for Restaurant Week. When it opened, there really weren’t many fine dining restaurants in DC that weren’t stuffy old steakhouses.

  • dcd

    This is a great object lesson on how cities change and evolve. For Nancy, this spot represents prostitutes on coffee break. But when DC Coast opened, for a time it was the toughest table to get in town, and the food was great. I had just started working downtown, and went there periodically for lunch or happy hour. My wife and I had our rehearsal dinner there in 2003, and we although we eagerly awaited the opening of new restaurants, this was always a standby – a good place to grab a bite at the bar when we didn’t have reservations (this was, of course, before kids). Now the pendulum has swing back to Le Pain Quotiden – closer to a McDonalds than DC Coast.

    • dcd

      And, fun fact – if you are a fan of cooking blogs, Orangette, from Portland, is the sister of one of the partners in Passion Food Hospitality. (I learned how to make Dutch babies and pink cookies from Orangette.)

  • anon

    What a disappointment. LPQ isn’t all that much different than ABP and Pret which are both within a block.

  • John

    Wishing I had gone here sometime over the past few years. I didn’t know that this restaurant had that sort of history/pedigree behind it.

  • BBBB

    Isn’t Taylor Gourmet also opening on the ground floor of that building? Any updates on that?

    • BBBB

      Nevermind, don’t care anymore

  • wpk_dc

    I liked DC Coast but it wasn’t a regular go-to like Le Pain Quotidien would be. I’m happy with this change. With a gorgeous interior on a high-traffic, high-visibility corner, I think Le Pain Q will succeed here. Hope so.

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