Celebrity chef and food personality José Andrés hopes to bring his brand of American “cool” to the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner.
America Eats Tavern, a re-creation of the pop-up that Andrés and his company, ThinkFoodGroup, did for the American culinary exhibit at the National Archives in 2011, opens next week in Tysons.
The space has struggled in recent years, with Michel by Michel Richard closing in 2012 after a little more than a year and Maestro, an acclaimed restaurant from Fiola chef Fabio Trabbochi, closing before that.
So why did ThinkFoodGroup decide to go for it? In part, it’s about timing, said Rob Wilder, the company’s co-founder.
“The Beltway construction combined with the Silver Line construction, combined with the recession, made Tysons a really unpleasant place to be,” Wilder said. “Now with the Silver Line about to open, new buildings going up, the whole urban renewal plan and lots of other evidence of the next phase, we’re part of a kind of joyful relaunching of the area.”
The group hasn’t shied away from problematic spaces in the past, Wilder added.
“Being in locations that others have performed under our standards, we have done it several times,” he said, citing Oyamel in Penn Quarter, which was another Mexican restaurant called Andale before ThinkFoodGroup moved in. Oyamel has done well: It recently expanded into a neighboring storefront to make room for a bigger bar.
Wilder hopes that America Eats, which serves Andrés’ takes on classic and historic American dishes, will serve both the daily needs of hotel guests as well as create a destination for diners throughout the area.
“One of the meals we love ourselves, breakfast, is not something we’ve ever done outside the hotel concept,” Wilder said, referring to TFG concepts in hotels in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and elsewhere. “Some of his signature dishes, such as the eggs Benedict with the hollandaise air, we have to travel from our home market to get those. Now we get to offer them here every day.”
If it’s successful, there could be more America Eats restaurants in hotels down the road, he said.
“The evolution of hotel food and beverage is that hoteliers are realizing that they are smarter to team with creative chefs and restaurant companies than to try to innovate themselves, and I don’t think it’s going to to slow down.”