Empty downtown-Washington restaurant no longer a ‘Curiosity’

Published 7:45 am Saturday, March 7, 2009

By Staff
The Map Room finds way through murky economy
By Brandia Deatherage
Staff Writer
Amid a deep recession, Washington’s The Curiosity Shoppe Caf/ and Bar has changed hands and changed names.
By no later than April, the restaurant space will reopen as The Map Room, said new co-owner and Washington resident Nico Nathan.
Previous owner Norm Koestline closed The Curiosity Shoppe in Dec. 2008. Yet, under the pall of a national decline in business and real estate, it took him a mere two months to sell the establishment and lease the property.
Nathan purchased the restaurant along with partner and investor, Jim Dudger, according to Koestline. Nathan said he’s optimistic about the timing of their business venture.
Rather than taking lengthy and expensive vacations, Nathan believes that people will take more weekend holidays to low-priced locales, which could include Washington and other tourist-oriented spots in Beaufort County.
Ironically, Nathan was a server at The Curiosity Shoppe when it first opened in 1995. Nevertheless, his nostalgia for the way things were, is outweighed by his desire to help keep downtown Washington attractive to tourists and locals by staying current, he said.
To update the restaurant, the new owners are inventing a fresh concept that will offer unique choices. The Map Room’s “world cuisine” will include dishes from Japan, China, Thailand, Russia, India, Germany, France, the British isles, Cuba, Morocco, Israel and the U.S., Nathan said.
The Map Room also plans to reintroduce two favorite appetizers from The Curiosity Shoppe menu: bacon-wrapped shrimp and spicy crab dip —”kind of as a tribute,” Nathan said.
The new owners have consulted four to five chefs and an alumnus of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute for advice on developing a menu, but their patrons will have the final say, Nathan said.
The Map Room will hire at least two chefs to prevent one chef’s preferences from dominating the menu, Nathan said.
The Map Room will provide around 10 jobs to the community. Most of the staff has already been contacted, but the owners will begin accepting applications for other potential employees after March 15, Nathan said.
In the spirit of consistency, the same menu will be used throughout the day for lunch and dinner and will include a la carte items for lunchtime convenience, such as individual specialty pizzas, Nathan said.
The owners of The Map Room also took the economy into consideration when charting prices, Nathan said.
Cutline for corresponding photo: Washington resident Nico Nathan, 33, has purchased the recently closed downtown restaurant The Curiosity Shoppe Caf/ and Bar. The new world-cuisine restaurant will be named The Map Room. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)