Nina May Owners Will Open an All-Day Restaurant and Market in Chevy Chase

Elena James will open with casual, seasonal American fare later this year.

Nina May co-owners chef Colin McClimans (left) and Danilo Simic. Photograph courtesy of Nina May

About Restaurant Openings Around DC

A guide to the newest places to eat and drink.

Nina May co-owners Danilo Simic and chef Colin McClimans are ready to branch out with a second restaurant: Elena James, an all-day cafe and market, will open in Chevy Chase, Maryland in late summer or early fall. As with the pair’s first venture in Shaw, the seasonal American restaurant is named after new kids, Elena (Simic), who just turned one, and James (McClimans), who is 18 months old. 

“We like to stay very busy and not make it easy on ourselves at all,” says McClimans, who grew up in Chevy Chase near the future restaurant. 

Nina May debuted only a few months before the start of the pandemic, which derailed plans to launch a morning-time cafe and lunch. At Elena James, the team is planning full-service breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a market for grab-and-go coffee drinks, homemade pastries, sandwiches, salads, and ready-to-heat meals. The 5,000 square-foot space will have roughly 150 seats indoors, and a 40-odd person patio. 

“We’ve always said we’d stick with the same kind of mission: sourcing locally, being very seasonal, but we didn’t want to stamp out another Nina May,” says McClimans, who sources exclusively within a 150 mile radius for the DC dining room. “This one is more family-friendly, more casual, a little more approachable. We’ve never had an avocado in [Nina May] since we’ve opened, and I’m sure we’ll have them at Elena James.”

Elena James joins a growing roster of restaurants in the Chevy Chase Lake development—a mixed-use space north of Bethesda that includes apartments, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, retail, and food/beverage options. Other newly announced dining options include the Charmery, a Baltimore-based ice cream shop with specialty sundaes, floats, and shakes; health-minded chain Playa Bowls; and a spinoff of Towson’s  UnCorked, which will offer a wide variety of wine and beer plus a full bar and grab-and-go food options like salads, sandwiches and charcuterie boards.

Chevy Chase Lake. 8525 Chevy Chase Lake Terrace, Chevy Chase, MD. 

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.