New year, new project.
Dennis Marron, who’s thisclose to opening his Lawrenceville oyster house, Merchant Oyster Co., has just announced plans to open yet another restaurant in 2017.
Or, The Whale will be a seafood and chop house that will be located in the soon-to-open Distrikt Hotel downtown, and will focus on serving humanly-raised meat, sustainable seafood and locally-farmed vegetables cooked on a wood-burning grill.
Marron says that the project has been one he’s had plans for since his time in Virginia.
“It’s going to be like a cool, old steakhouse meets a cool, old seafood restaurant.” Marron says. “I grew up in a town where when you wanted to go out to dinner, you had two places to go: a seafood place or a steak place. It’s kind of like that, but I wanted to do it a little better.”
The restaurant will feature a butcher room with a dry-aging room, giving Marron the space to age locally-raised beef. “We’ll also have local poultry and pork on the menu, and a mix of wild game in there, and lots of whole-roasted fish and good local vegetables,” Marron said. Of course, expect shellfish, like lobster, oysters and clams, too.
The 150-seat restaurant will also have a full bar with a wine list, craft beer and cocktails. A second bar, Evangeline, will be housed above the hotel lobby, and will serve cocktails and small snacks. Marron says that while the restaurant bar will be wine-focused with a selection of beers, Evangeline will have a more elegant vibe, with a separate oyster bar. In the morning, Evangeline will turn into a juice and coffee bar, with grab-and-go sandwiches and quick breakfast options.
The Distrikt Hotel will take over the former Salvation Army headquarters, and the restaurant will be housed in a section of the building that used to be a gymnasium for the women’s housing unit. Plans for the space will include a catwalk on the second level of the restaurant, utilizing the space that used to be a track. Downstairs will house a wine room and private dining room, with a big open kitchen and additional seating.
Or, The Whale is undergoing construction, and is slated to open in May.
And Marron says that plans for Merchant Oyster Co. are also coming along swimmingly, with the restaurant scheduled to open in March.