A Dream Come True
Toyoda opens his first restaurant in Chevy Chase
BY KRISTINA ROSEN
After over a decade of dreaming, Kuni Toyoda prepares to open his newest restaurant, Bella Cafe & Grille, in Chevy Chase.
Toyoda brought us Bella Notte, Bella Forno (formerly Crust) and Smashing Tomato, but his newest concept explores more than Italian cuisine. Toyoda describes it as “everyday dining that you deserve. He adds, “Keep it simple, but do it right.”
The menu features everyday food like burgers and roasted chicken, all scratch-made in a more elevated manner. The menu will evolve over three phases, believe it or not, with sushi rolls by the third phase. “It’s our chance to show we love food,” says Jillian Richards, marketing director.
Bella Cafe & Grille will be open for carryout only until in-person dining is back to full capacity.
“I feel like our restaurant business has changed. It’s not only going to be dine-in. I think a lot of people have done so much takeout and delivery that now it’s going to be a way of life.” says Richards.
With the in-person dining experience out of the picture, their focus has shifted mostly to food. “What’s kind of scary is that people’s first impression is going to be whatever is in that bag. A lot of time and effort went into figuring out how to give people the best carryout food they can get,” says Tiffany Blair, director of operations. She adds with a laugh, “I’ve eaten a lot of food that’s sat in a box for 30 minutes.”
The forthcoming restaurant will open in the former Le Matin Bakery & Zuni Café, which closed in August 2019. Toyoda has kept his eye on that exact location for years, building a relationship with the former owners to the point where he discussed taking over the locations once the bakery closed.
Toyoda plans to resurrect favorite items from Le Matin including the baguette and brioche bread, along with pastries like the apple tart.
Located in the heart of Chevy Chase, the restaurant has the vibe of an intimate, cozy living room full of natural sunlight and bookshelves lined with wine and books. The exterior remains mostly the same, with the addition of a light green canopy, blending into the neighborhood of Chevy Chase.
Bella Cafe & Grille opens for carryout only on East High Street in November.
This article also appears on page 16 of the November 2020 print edition of ace magazine lex.
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