- Photo: Allison Dinner, courtesy Dino
Fans of Cleveland Park's Dino, commence salivating. Chef/Owner Dean Gold says he's conducting a serious search for a location to open a second restaurant.
Among the neighborhoods Gold is looking at most closely are Dupont Circle, Capitol Hill, and Columbia Heights.
The new restaurant wouldn't just be a second Dino, says Gold, though it would definitely be inspired by many of the same influences and passions at play at the original.
"We're looking to do something that's undoudbtedly going to be Italian and wine-oriented, but probably with much more beer than Dino has," Gold says. The menu and format are still in the incubation stages, only to be finalized after "the right combination of location, investors, the neighborhood's needs and what I want to do all come together."
Amid the struggling retail landscape in Cleveland Park of late, Dino has continued to thrive. While Gold acknowledges there are challenges to continuing to operate in the neighborhood, where business after business has closed over the last two years, he says he has no plans to relocate the restaurant he opened in 2005 with his wife, Kay Zimmerman.
Among Gold's complaints about Cleveland Park: the deteriorating condition of the center island along the Connecticut Avenue service road that runs parallel to his restaurant, and the smart growth types "who are dead set against doing anything about parking in the neighborhood."
Still, it's "not in my plans at all to move Dino," Gold says, not "unless there was just something that came up with the landlord that made it impossible to negotiate." Dino's lease is up in about two years, according to Gold.
As for the probable location of a second restaurant, Dupont Circle appears to be a front runner, thanks to a group of potential investors there that Gold describes as "very interested." A number of Dino regulars in Capitol Hill are also lobbying hard for their neck of the woods. And Gold says he sees a lot to admire about what's going on in Columbia Heights, which he describes as a "very vibrant, discerning neighborhood" and notes would be "geographically very convenient to Dino."
"Columbia Heights is looking for high quality food," Gold says. "The people who have gone in there with a quality orientation are doing really well."