Sunday, January 4, 2009

Business Profile: Zed's Bistro & Wine Bar

Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? I never had the pleasure until I visited the newly opened Zed's Bistro and Wine Bar in Gainesville, VA. What made this a special dining experience for me is that we sold Zed her condominium unit last year.

My business partner, Gayle Bailey, is a neighbor of Zed's and he introduced her to the Piedmont Commercial Center project. He knew she had been running a successful restaurant, Zed's Ethiopian Cuisine, for over twenty years in her Georgetown location in Washington DC, where she has served the famous and infamous, including politicians and movie stars. Zed liked the upscale concept of the center and was interested in the unique ownership opportunity the project offered for retail and restaurant operators. That is, she could purchase rather than lease her restaurant space, offering her the benefit of real estate equity and appreciation on her investment.

In addition to loving change and challenges, I also love learning new things. I'm a bit of an education junkie. Zed's deal provided a terrific educational opportunity for me. We sold her the space before the developer had broken ground on the project. The space was to be delivered as a 'cold dark shell'. A cold dark shell is basically a box without air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, sprinkler system, or lighting. This is an ideal delivery scenario for a restaurant.

Between signing the contract and closing on her purchase, Zed had a build-out to plan. I attended the initial meeting between her and Bob Dunning of Dunning Group Architects. Bob has a lot of experience in restaurant design, and his extensive knowledge of county building code requirements was apparent in that meeting. Among other things, he and Zed discussed placement of rooftop HVAC units (dining areas have different air conditioning needs than kitchens), location of her kitchen and all her equipment including sinks, walk-in refrigerators and freezers, stoves and cooking vents, and more. Listening to Zed's input gave me terrific insight into what it takes to run a successful restaurant; Bob's gave me county code requirements I could take with me to assist future clients.

Eleven months after completing her purchase, Zed's is open for business. I always tell my clients our relationship doesn't end at the settlement table. It gives me great satisfaction to support their businesses and watch them grow in their new locations.

Zed's is a warm, welcoming place, tastefully furnished, with an open kitchen so you can watch the chef cook. There's lots of natural materials like tile and granite, some nice artwork on the walls plus a few tvs for those so inclined. I don't recall the names of the dishes I sampled, but they were delicious. There were some shared appetizers, one with shrimp and the other with beef. Zed recommended the short ribs, but I am not a big beef eater, so I opted for the chicken dish. Everything came with a spinach and rice side dish and a rolled Ethiopian bread with the consistency of a pancake. Yummy! There are desserts on the menu but for me, the espresso made for a perfect lunch finale. The food had just the right spice (have I mentioned the sauce each dish was served in where you dip the bread?) and was unlike anything I'd ever eaten before. I cannot wait to return.

Zed's Bistro and Wine Bar is located at 6850 Piedmont Center Plaza in Gainesville, off Route 55 and across from the Haymarket Post Office, in the building behind US Tiger. Google Map


  1. how is the wine selection?

  2. When I visited, Zed was still waiting on her liquor license. Check back with me in a few weeks. I will be eating lunch there this week and will see if the license has come in yet.

  3. Zed's liquor license is in and she has a nice international wine selection.

  4. Thanks, Adrin, good to have a virtual visitor from Boise.

  5. Hello. How is everybody? Very nice blog .. This issue in particular I love ... I am a student of business administration career and I feel great pation by all subjects related to my career ... Thanks for the info