After more than a year and almost $1 million of renovations to the old Tragara space on Cordell Avenue, Ashish Alfred’s 4935 Bar And Kitchen is finally open and operating on all cylinders.
Alfred, the Rockville native and French Culinary Institute of Manhattan graduate, took over the Tragara space in November 2012 with the idea the downstairs restaurant would be open in January 2013 and the upstairs would be a trendy lounge and bar area.
The upstairs space opened, but Montgomery County permitting officials found a number of problems inside the building that prevented him from opening the full-service restaurant.
“We figured we’d make some quick updates,” Alfred said. “Sure enough, we had issues from the start, all kinds of issues that we had to get special exceptions for.”
Permitting officials found the bathrooms were not ADA compliant, so Alfred said he spent $30,000 on new bathrooms. The doors had to be changed and then the county said the spiral staircase didn’t meet fire code, so Alfred said he spent $160,000 on fire-resistant glass.
“I’m not complaining. If these things are required then there are certainly reasons to have them,” Alfred said. “But we are certainly open now.”
Alfred opened the main restaurant for lunch and dinner earlier this month.
The menu features seafood, salads, pasta, steak and other dishes from Alfred. Dinner entrees are priced from $18 to $29 with starters from $5 to $14 and a raw bar. Soon, Alfred will add a brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday. There’s also a Monday-Friday happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a late night DJ on Friday and Saturday.
Alfred said the restaurant (4935 Cordell Ave.) is no longer going for the nightclub lounge-feel he had in mind. Alfred hired a general manager and bar consultant to help redesign the second floor, long known in Bethesda as prime space for banquets and Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties.
Alfred closed the upstairs lounge part of the restaurant in August as renovations continued in the downstairs restaurant.
“We kind of functioned as a nightclub but we’ve gone away from that,” Alfred said. “Now, it’s a more casual place where folks can walk in at 11 or 11:30 [p.m.] and get a great meal. We still get a great crowd.”
This week, there will be a private party and a Bar Mitzvah party. Alfred said private events will be a big part of his business.
He’s excited about the group of new restaurants and bars in a rejuvenated Woodmont Triangle, and more excited about finally getting to join in.
“The more the merrier,” Alfred said. “I would love for it to have the same kind of scene as Bethesda Row.”