O’Donnell’s has Been Serving Seafood in the DC Area for Almost 100 Years

by MCS Staff

The story of O’Donnell’s began almost 100 years ago when Tom O’Donnell opened the first restaurant in 1922, the Sea Grill in downtown Washington, D.C. at 1207 E Street NW. Undeterred by the Great Depression that gripped the nation in the 1930’s, his business soared.

In 1941, Tom leased the Victor Wholesalers building at 1221 E Street, opening his second location. And four years later Tom’s daughter, Janice O’Donnell Edelblut, joined the family business.

With a keen perception of the future, or some luck of the Irish, the O’Donnell’s purchased the Edgemoor Motor Building on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda, MD to bring their high-quality standard to suburban Washington. This new restaurant in Bethesda opened its doors in 1956 and received wild popularity with the local community that was excited for fresh seafood and that welcoming O’Donnell’s atmosphere.

The Bethesda location saw incredible successes and the building was renovated, refurbished and expanded several times over the years to make the dining experience better. And through all that time and growth, the business remained in the family and Tom’s grandson, Bill Edelblut, took the helm to lead the franchise toward a new century.
The location on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda lasted for 45 years before closing in 2001.

In the summer of 1997, O’Donnell’s Restaurant opened in the Kentlands and the community loved the quality of food O’Donnell’s brought to the table. O’Donnell’s Restaurant was proud to have been Montgomery County’s premier choice for seafood. The Kentlands restaurant closed in July of 2013 when Bill Edelbut decided to move on to something different after 40 years in the restaurant industry.

Bill and his daughter Ashlee – the 4th generation O’Donnell – brought a fresh concept to Potomac, MD– O’Donnell’s Market. They opened their doors in December 2015 and customers have been indulging in the same quality of food and service associated with the O’Donnell’s name (and that includes the crab cakes and rum buns!).

For almost 100 years, the O’Donnell’s family has proudly brought their own, original recipes and famous Norfolk style of cooking to Montgomery County.

Grand opening of the Bethesda Restaurant in January 1956. Janice Edelblut is second from the right.



From the O’Donnell’s website:

“Stop in to the market for fresh seafood, the finest cuts of meat, and healthy prepared dishes to go with any meal.

Our pastry chef always has something fresh baking in the oven. At any given time, when you visit the Market the smell of famous rum buns, pies and pastries will greet your senses. All our baked goods are made from scratch and baked fresh every day.

And our raw bar and grill will satisfy any craving. Join us for lunch, an afternoon snack or an elegant dinner. Or celebrate a Friday afternoon with your co-workers and share some fresh shucked oysters

Not to mention we cater too! If you’re having an event or party, we’ll work with you to prepare almost any menu. As you’re planning the menu, be sure to ask us about our Norfolk Table that brings the freshest seafood and shucked oysters to your next event!”


Photos and information courtesy of O’Donnell’s


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1 comment

Erik November 23, 2021 - 2:57 pm

I so miss that Kentlands spot.

We had our rehearsal dinner there and ate there regularly until it closed.


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