DC Coast Sets Sail to Another Sea
Washington, DC’s ocean playground that offered local, tri-coastal and sustainable seafood
under the skillful watch of Chef Jeff Tunks, bids a fond farewell, December 31, 2015
Passion Food Hospitality partners pictured above [clockwise] – David Wizenberg, chef Jeff Tunks, Gus DiMillo
The partners of pioneering seafood restaurant and the initial anchor for the progressive 14th street corridor, DC Coast, [Chef Jeff Tunks, Gus DiMillo, David Wizenberg] are changing with the tide and have decided to close the doors on the eve of the last day in 2015 – December 31, 2015. It has been an exciting 17 plus years for the distinctive, sleek tri-coastal American establishment, DC Coast, but now is the time for its final wave. It was a challenging and heartfelt decision for the partners, but with much review of the varied factors – from the Landlord’s request to enlarge the space when the three partners wished to renovate and reduce the overall size of the restaurant— Passion Food, LLC thought closing the doors was the best course of action. It will leave behind a legacy of being one of the modern American institutions in Washington, DC, that defined seafood at its best, from the freshest of fish of tri-coastal waters to the aquatic atmosphere.
DC Coast restaurant stood for the restoration of the great American Art-Deco style, the finest of seafood, and the rebirth of a neighborhood. The owners sought to preserve much of the 1929 building’s distinguishing architecture in their conception of the restaurant, which opened in June 1998. Located on Fourteenth and K Streets, the street-level space of the Tower Building had been vacant since 1981. Not one upscale establishment had a vested interest in this area in many years. It was not until the former Franklin Square Association began to invest in the late 1980s and early 1990s to revitalize this area that these three, newly formed partners, who were looking for a space to open their first establishment together, saw the potential of giving life back to this downtown area. “Developing Fourteenth and K Streets was vital to bringing the city back to what it once was in the golden years,” says co proprietor and 40-year veteran in the hospitality industry, Gus DiMillo.
With its own distinctive identity, attributing to the Art Deco era, a vestigial statue of a Greek mermaid drew you inside. Your eyes were carried down the captivating serpentine-shaped bar and engulfed in the 35-foot ceilings, large oval mirrors, and grand plaster columns. Lastly and most noticeably, Chef Jeff Tunks introduced a contemporary open kitchen for the diner’s entertainment, a dominating feature that had distinguished DC Coast from all other restaurants in Washington, DC.
These three men – Gus DiMillo, David Wizenberg, and Jeff Tunks – set out to make a dream come true, not only in having their first restaurant together, but it was their mission to bring a strong sense of place and worth to Fourteenth and K Streets again. What was once an attempt to bring change to the community has developed into a cultural lifestyle for downtown Washington.
In the first five years, DC Coast soared to the top with support and admiration from the media with some of the most prestigious accolades most deserving. Just a small walk down memory lane:
Washington Post Magazine – Fall 1998 – “50 Favorite Restaurants” by Phyllis Richman.
Esquire Magazine – December 1998 – “Best New Restaurants in Washington” by John Mariani.
Bon Appétit – January 1999 – Earned a spot on the coveted list of “Top Tables in Washington.”
Travel+Leisure – April 1999 – “Top 50 Restaurants in America.”
Food & Wine – July 1999 – “Best New Restaurants in Washington”
Bon Appétit – September 2000 – Featured in “Favorite Places.”
Gourmet Magazine – October 2000 – Named one of Washington’s “Top Five Restaurants.”
Town & Country – January 2001 – Named a “Most Memorable Dining Experience.”
USA Today – December 2001 – Jerry Shriver includes DC Coast in his “Most Memorable Meals.”
Washingtonian – July 2002 – DC Coast’s crab cakes rated one of the “Best in Town.”