Stanford Grill Aims to Attract Crowds with High-Quality Food
The large Rockville restaurant is planning to open later this month
By Andrew Metcalf, August 15 at 10:58 AM
Update - 12:10 p.m. - Blueridge Restaurant Group appears to be upping its game with its new Stanford Grill in Rockville.
The Howard County-based restaurant group, which operates four Copper Canyon Grill restaurants and the original Stanford Grill in Columbia, has brought in a Las Vegas chef, a Swiss baker to helm the kitchen at the new restaurant.
On Monday, the three restaurant leaders were wrapping up details as they prepare to open the 300-plus seat Tower Oaks Boulevard restaurant later this month.
The restaurant will likely compete with the few restaurants in the nearby suburban office parks including Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge and MoCo’s Founding Farmers. It’s a ripe market; last year Clyde’s officials said their Tower Oaks restaurant was the restaurant with the highest volume of sales in the county, and they paid nearly $750,000 per year in sales tax alone.
Stanford Grill is on the ground floor of a 200,000-square-foot office building completed in 2008 that was once coined “Maryland’s greenest office building” by state Comptroller Peter Franchot, thanks to its LEED Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. However, the building still has only two tenants—the developers that built it. Lerner Enterprises and The Tower Cos. take up the top three floors of the nine-story building.
A big sign in front of the building has six empty slots, perhaps a sign of the decline of local suburban office parks. Stanford Grill’s leaders think the restaurant could serve as a draw for more tenants.
Executive chef Sean Kinoshita says he hopes to serve about 450 customers nightly in the large restaurant. Kinoshita came to the restaurant after a three-year stint as the executive chef at Tao in Las Vegas. A Hawaiian native of Japanese descent, Kinoshita plans to include sushi and other Asian touches on Stanford Grill’s menu of American comfort food. Most important, though, is providing diners with a consistent experience marked by a high level of service, Kinoshita said.
“We don’t skimp on quality,” he said. In addition to the items he has added to the menu, Kinoshita will also be preparing the restaurant’s signature filets, Scottish salmon and wood-fired rotisserie chicken.
Erick Cooper, director of daily operations for Blueridge Restaurant Group, said the goal at the restaurant is to push freshness while serving straightforward American cuisine.
“We want to blow everyone away with simple, great food,” Cooper said.
Head baker Christian Haug, who comes to the restaurant after helming the oven at Praline Bakery & Bistro in Bethesda, plans to arrive around 3 a.m. to begin baking the buns, bread and rolls that will be served each day.
“I hope it’s something that people will talk about—the bread,” Haug said.
The restaurant’s dining room is lined with large, leather booths and there is a private dining room complete with audio-visual equipment and a private outdoor patio. The four-sided bar has a sleek look and will feature nightly jazz trios.
Both the kitchen and bakery feature open layouts allowing diners to see the chefs at work. Outside, a 100-seat wrap-around patio features hurricane-grade umbrellas and portable heaters.
The opening General manager Patrick Desotelle was slated to be in charge of coordinating the restaurant’s more than 100 employees, but he later resigned Monday night, shortly after the above photo was taken. A spokeswoman for the restaurant did not immediately have more information about Desotelle's resignation Tuesday morning. Desotelle came to the restaurant after working at D.C. restaurants Le Diplomate and Zatinya.
The restaurant aims to cater to people working in the nearby office parks, including by offering free valet parking. Diners can also park in the underground garage.
On Monday, work on the restaurant was mostly completed, but some tasks remained. The restaurant was waiting for patio furniture to arrive, Desotelle was setting up the private dining area, and the bar equipment was mostly in boxes.
The staff expects to be ready for an opening later this month, possibly during the last week of September.