Photo by Goran Kosanovic
Photo by Goran Kosanovic

Over the past two years, restaurateur Ivan Iricanin has found his groove. He opened a location of Ambar in Arlington and in Serbia. Then he transitioned to Silver Spring to open a pair of Mexican restaurants. But the Ambar restaurant on Barracks Row was Iricanin’s foray into the D.C. dining scene.

“It’s six years being in business and it’s perfect timing to make it fresh and new,” he says. “Every design has a shelf life and since Ambar was my first restaurant it was done on a low budget. Now I have a lot to say.”

The restaurant serving mezze, kebabs, flatbreads, spreads, and sausages will remain open throughout the renovation set to begin today and last through April 2019. Iricanin’s wife Nya Gill, who designed the Ambar in Clarendon, is heading up the project. “She knows the brand,” Iricanin says. “She’s been there since the beginning.” 

The biggest change is the addition of a 2,000-square-foot rooftop with a retractable roof and plenty of greenery that will serve as happy hour central. The restaurant’s current outdoor space is being converted into a wine room that can be used for private dining and events. Each floor of the restaurant will grow by approximately 400-square-feet. The renovation also includes doubling the size of the kitchen, allowing chefs to expand on the menu. 

There will also be subtle design changes throughout all of the dining rooms that Iricanin says will modernize the space but retain its rustic charm—think terra cotta floors, fresh finishes on the wall, and new furniture.  

Since the lion’s share of the face-lift is occurring in the back of the restaurant and on the roof, dining shouldn’t be interrupted. 

Ambar, 523 8th St. SE; (202) 813-3039;