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Acclaimed Ambiance

Critically acclaimed Succotash finds flickering gas lanterns suit their cuisine.

When the new Succotash Penn Quarter opens late this summer—the second location by the acclaimed team of chef Edward Lee and KNEAD Hospitality + Design—diners will find more than just soulful Southern food. The restaurant will also be kitted out with natural gas-powered lamps, like its National Harbor sibling, lending a romantic glow and charm to the historic space.

“Gas lights provide warmth and comfort,” said Michael Reginbogin, who, with partner Jason Berry, founded KNEAD Hospitality + Design, a boutique restaurant and design firm that owns and operates a number of restaurant concepts. “For Succotash, gas lanterns are a design feature that is deeply rooted in traditional Southern architecture, and we could not imagine designing our spaces without them. They nod to the streets of the French Quarter [in] New Orleans and their flickering glow gives remembrance of ages gone by.”

Indeed, the National Harbor location is a cozy enclave, drawing diners from near and far since opening in 2015. Eighteen gas fixtures line the aged brick walls inside and outside on the waterfront patio, producing dancing flames that encourage lingering over a classic Sazerac or a bourbon from the restaurant’s extensive selection.

Of course, the dramatic design is but a backdrop to Lee’s inspired Southern cuisine. The James Beard nominee is known for mixing his Korean roots with an abiding respect for Southern food-ways. To experience the fullness of his talent, try the Taste the South family-style feast featuring everything from Fried Green Tomatoes with Weisenberger Mills skillet cornbread to Bacon Mac N Cheese alongside collard greens amped up with kimchi and country ham. The dinner is topped off with a dessert of butter pecan cookies and cream and chocolate bourbon pecan pie.

A similar menu will be on offer in the new location, housed in the former Equitable Bank Building. The 10,000-square-foot space, spread over three floors, welcomes guests with two large ornate gas sconces flanking the historic banking hall entrance, and six more in the second-floor dining room.

The landmarked building was built in 1911 and is one of only 15 buildings in the District with a landmarked interior. The KNEAD Hospitality + Design team worked closely with the DC Preservation League to ensure any remaining historic details were untouched, while restoring the space to its original glory across three floors and an expected 350 seats.

While natural gas in the front of the house sets Succotash apart, reliance on gas in the back is a given in most professional kitchens, and Succotash is no different. “Gas is the lifeline of our kitchen,” Reginbogin said. “While not all of our cooking equipment is gas-reliant, a lot of what we do as a high-volume service operation relies on the efficiency of natural gas.” - Jeanne O’Brien Coffey

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