Why Mussel Bar? Robert Weidmaier Explains His Atlantic City Branding Switcheroo
In this week's Young & Hungry column, I chat with D.C. chefs Robert Weidmaier and Brian McBride about the new 230-seat restaurant they're opening in Atlantic City. Originally conceived as a second location for Weidmaier's downtown D.C. eatery Brasserie Beck, the restaurant will instead operate under the Mussel Bar moniker (the same name as Weidmaier's more casual gastropub in Bethesda). Why the switch up? "I took the name because they liked the name for the resort," explains Weidmaier, referring to the developers of A.C.'s massive Revel complex.
Apart from the name, the concept remains mostly the same. "It's going to be called Mussel Bar but it's going to be more in the style of Brasserie Beck," Weidmaier says. "The Mussel Bar in Bethesda, you can't compare it to. The Mussel Bar in Bethesda is exactly what I wanted it to be when I opened it up. It was modeled after a little hole in the wall in Brussels, Belgium, that was just loud, with rock 'n' roll, mussels, frites and beer. That's where I used to go after I finished working late at night, like one o'clock in the morning. Not that the Mussel Bar in Bethesda is that crazy. But it's pretty much, you know, a gastropub. But [the Atlantic City restaurant] won't be like that."
Future expansion was another consideration when naming the place. Weidmaier says he feels the Mussel Bar name allows for more flexibility from a design standpoint, as different locations may require a different look. "If we're going into a college area, we would do one more like the one in Bethesda," he says. "If we're going into a more upscale area, we'd do something a little more sophisticated in terms of the style and feel of the place."
In other words: an upscale bar makes a little more sense than a downscale brasserie.
Image courtesy of Mussel Bar