“Restaurant week is about bringing people into your restaurant, letting them try something they might not have tried, and hopefully getting them back as regular customers,” says Jody Danek, who owns and manages not one but three restaurants in Annapolis, along with his wife, Kristin Lewis, partner Gavin Buckley and his wife Julie Williams Buckley. The team owns Tsunami, Lemon Grass and Metropolitan restaurants, and collectively, their business is called the “Kapow Group.”
In the 1990s, Jody was a bartender working to put himself through school, and thought, “If I’m going to work this hard, I’m going to work for myself.” He met his wife at the Rams Head, then met Gavin and Julie and they decided start a restaurant together. They launched Tsunami in 2002 and they’re now also partners in Lemongrass and Metropolitan Kitchen Lounge.
Why three separate restaurants in the same block of the same town? “We saw a lot of potential on West Street,” Jody explains. When the City of Annapolis was planning to build the Knighton Parking Garage on West Street, there was a move to save five small rowhouses along the street.
“We love West Street,” he says. “We had had Tsunami for several years, and saw the opportunity with those five dilapidated houses. We thought there’s some value to these properties, and who wants another huge garage right on the street? That end of West Street was a no-man’s land before Park Place was opened.”
“We saw an opportunity for some retail and restaurants, to develop these businesses in these buildings and hide the garage,” he continues. “We started five business there, since then it’s been combined into three different businesses. The restaurants are what we knew, so we teamed up with our real estate business partner, Matt Hudson. Anywhere you see development, you see restaurants and bars first — they’re what breathe life into areas that aren’t yet economically viable.”
Tsunami serves fresh sushi of the highest quality as well as chef-prepared steak and seafood.
Lemongrass, which opened in 2005, is pure Thai cuisine served in a modern setting.
Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge features seasonally influenced, ingredient-focused cuisine. As the web site explains, “After years of importing ingredients from all over the world, chefs are going back to basics and staying local. The goal of the farm-to-table movement is to limit the human impact on the environment (less flying, driving, and fuel consumption) while delighting diners with farm fresh fare that is packed with nutrients and just plain tastes good. When food is fresh and local, everybody wins, from farmer to chef to diner.”
Combined, the three restaurants and the retail shops provide a synergy that attracts people to West Street. “The idea, especially when you’re talking about economic development, is to get people walking down the street, and develop ‘uptown,’ the first block of West Street through to Park Place,” Jody explains. “When you get people to walk up and down that street, you make it a viable part of the city. It’s still a work in progress, but we think West Street is up and coming – it’s a place where locals go.”
Adding to the synergy of the neighborhood is its designation as Arts & Entertainment District, which, Jody says, helps distinguish West Street. “There’s a lot of competition, so the more we can differentiate ourselves and brand West Street as a unique, entertaining place, the better. The City’s done a great job – there are three hotels there now, if you’re staying in Annapolis, you’re probably staying on West Street. If you’re a tourist, you’re going to be walking up and down West Street.” And the point of Restaurant Week is to give locals an incentive to try new restaurants with inexpensive fixed-price menus.
“It’s February, it’s rainy and wet, but it’s a great time to try a new thing – it gets you through to springtime. It gets people out there, and the Annapolis Business Association works really hard at doing the promotion.”
Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge
169 West Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
167 West Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
51 West Street
Annapolis, MD 21401