Former NBA player to open restaurant on Georgia Avenue
Modern-style bar Society' to feature American and Caribbean menu
Former NBA player Jason Miskiri is trying to slam dunk the downtown Silver Spring restaurant scene.
Miskiri plans to open an American and Caribbean food restaurant on Georgia Avenue in April or early May. The place, called Society, is going to be more than just a restaurant, though, Miskiri said. He envisions what he calls a "restaurant/bar/sports bar/lounge/ home" with a contemporary atmosphere.
"I don't want to be biased to anyone," Miskiri said. "I want anyone who wants to, to come in and enjoy themselves. At the same time, I want it to be fancy and posh."
Miskiri said his vision for the space is a modern-style bar unlike any other in Silver Spring. The décor will be clean but chic, he said. The food will be upscale, but the space will have TVs for people to watch sports games. Miskiri said he hopes to create a gathering place that residents would normally have to travel to Washington, D.C., to find.
The 4,000-square-foot space has a long bar, which Miskiri plans to extend. There is a long seating area that is separated from the bar area by a half wall. The whole space will seat 107 people. Miskiri said he plans to add a lounge and VIP seating area in the front of the restaurant.
The restaurant will serve refined American food like steak, crab cakes, Angus beef burgers and salmon. Miskiri said he also plans to integrate Caribbean food into the menu. He said the restaurant will most likely serve Caribbean fare during lunch and daytime hours and move into the American classics during the evenings. On Sundays, there will be brunch with dishes like crab cake benedicts, omelets and stuffed waffles, he said.
"I love food," Miskiri said. "I love flavor. I love to try different foods. I love to cook. I love being able to go somewhere and enjoy some really good food."
The space at 8229 Georgia Ave. was formerly occupied by the Nicaro Restaurant Lounge which closed in 2010. Demolition on the space started this week and Miskiri said he hopes to open in April or early May.
Miskiri said he plans for the bar to fulfill a need in Silver Spring for those looking for a classy bar environment. He also wants the restaurant to serve as a neighborhood gathering point.
"I want to know everyone that comes in," Miskiri said.
Miskiri plans to install TVs to show sports games. He said he may plan a few poetry nights and game nights with board games like checkers, chess and Connect Four. He wants to host live jazz music. There will be valet parking and the space comes with 200 parking spots in the back of the building.
The niche for a Caribbean restaurant is still relatively open in downtown Silver Spring. The Jamaican restaurant Negril is the only other Caribbean eatery in the area, but the 30-year-old restaurant is somewhat of a downtown institution.
Negril is located a block away from the Society space. Trudi Wilson, marketing director at Negril, said she thought the two restaurants would be able to feed off each other by interesting restaurant goers in Caribbean food.
"I think it would be a healthy competition," Wilson said. "Not all Caribbean food is going to be the same, anyway. It depends on what region they are coming from."
Miskiri was born and raised in Takoma Park and graduated from Montgomery Blair High School. He said it was important to him to open a restaurant in his hometown area.
"To come back here is a blessing," Miskiri said.
Miskiri graduated from George Mason University in 1999 and went on to play professionally for the Charlotte Hornets in the 1999-2000 season. After that, he played for various minor league basketball teams.
But a back injury that required surgery and a slow recovery ended his career five years ago. Since then, he decided to pursue entrepreneurship. He opened a Caribbean restaurant in Laurel four years ago called Island Flavors.
"Frequently, it's very tough in that industry, because athletes come into the entrepreneur business without any background," said Marc Rosenthal, Miskiri's agent. "Jason has had prior experience operating a much smaller restaurant in the Laurel area. I think it's given him the bonafides to step up."
Another key factor, Rosenthal said, will be Miskiri's presence at the restaurant itself. Miskiri said he plans to be heavily involved in the restaurant's daily operations.
"It's fun to be back home," Miskiri said. "It's fun to be in this area."