After working around the country at restaurants such as Inn at Little Washington, Bobby’s Flay’s Mesa Grill and Be Our Guest Restaurant Group in New York City, John Kushner decided he was ready to return home to Northern Virginia.
He began developing a concept for an island-themed restaurant and searching for a location, one which would offer a unique space inspired by the sights, sounds and tastes of his trips to islands around the world.
Kushner said he found the perfect location at the new Cascades Overlook in Sterling, a development which he says is “stunning.”
Ocean Blue, located at 21438 Epicerie Plaza, will hold its grand opening Aug. 15.
The family-friendly restaurant, which seats 120 people inside and 70 on the patio, is the home to over 500 different rare tropical fish swimming in two 1,500-gallon tanks. The aquariums feature eels, lobster, rays, mollusks and more.
The aquariums are monitored by a marine biologist and are run on special machines, which intend to put as little stress on the fish as possible, providing a fresh and clean environment.
The aquariums will also serve as a learning and classroom space for local students to visit. The idea was inspired by his 4-year-old daughter and his own childhood experiences.
“We want to use this as a place to teach classes to students during the day so they can learn about the unique fish here. Unless you go to the Baltimore Aquarium, kids will not have this type of experience anywhere else in this area,” he said.
The restaurant also features a “very unique” waterway with small regatta boats sailing around the dining room, carrying fresh fish “right off the boat from Hawaii” and specials that change daily.
There are small plates for $4, $6 and $8 each. In addition, the menu features a ramen noodle bar with over 20 different toppings, a sushi bar with signature rolls, as well as salads, and customizable steak, chicken and seafood dishes.
The cocktail bar area, he said, has a “fresh fruit feel” with an island themed visual experience and “Jahawaiian-style” music playing in the background.
“It really adds to the atmosphere, we think it is fantastic,” Kushner said.
In addition to the bar area, there is a private dining room which seats 15 people.
Ocean Blue is currently hiring and looking for people who are passionate about the food and hospitality industry.
“We look forward to giving back to the community and providing a beautiful, relaxing family experience here,” Kushner said.