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Meet Commonwealth, TQLA's Replacement on Washington Ave

Washington Avenue is making a comeback.

New upscale casual restaurant taking over former TQLA space.
New upscale casual restaurant taking over former TQLA space.
Jakeisha Wilmore

When TQLA abruptly closed in October, some speculated the Southwestern restaurant's departure was part of an ongoing trend of closures along the Washington Avenue strip, but not Thomas Kolodziej, owner of the restaurant group Culinary Vanguard. Kolodziej saw an opportunity and quickly scooped up the TQLA property after days on the market. Along with business partners, Kolodziej wanted to breathe new life along Upper Washington Avenue beginning with the former TQLA space at 4601 Washington Ave, Ste 130.

The recently shuttered restaurant is currently being transformed into an upscale casual dining restaurant called Commonwealth. Conceptualized by Chef Michael Sanguinetti, former executive chef of Artisans, Commonwealth's seasonal menu will focus on on elevated modern comfort food such as braised quail empanadas with mole and lime, and Châteaubriand carved tableside.

Most ingredients used will be locally sourced with Japanese, Korean, French and Cajun influences throughout. Available on the dessert menu, milk and cookies served on a cutting board accompanied with bottle service in the form of old-fashioned bottled milk. Although much of the fixtures and furnishings abandoned by TQLA remain, Commonwealth is overhauling the space, with a New Year's Eve anticipated opening date.

A few blocks down on the corner of Washington Avenue and Leverkuhn is Kolodziej's other concepts: Black Orchid, a lounge on 4003 Washington Ave and La Roux, a nightclub next door at 4011 Washington Ave, first reported by Swamplot two years ago. Sanguinetti has also been hired as the corporate chef who will also over see the menu development at Black Orchid.

While Commonwealth will be more food heavy, Black Orchid will feature a craft cocktails and wine in a 55 seating setting. Andrew Grala, formerly of Reserve 101 was tapped to construct the cocktail program. The lounge will offer a sophisticated menu with high-end plating tapa-style offerings. Additionally, Sanguinetti will use the lounge as his culinary playground serving a chef-driven tasting menu during dinner hours. A patio will connect adjoining nightclub, La Roux. Black Orchid's anticipated soft opening is January.

Along with La Roux, both restaurants will open late serving dinner until 11 p.m. and bar menus until 2 a.m. daily. With recently opened Beirut Fine Lebanese Cuisine, Dallas-based Velvet Taco rumored to open, Fire Station 11, Mary'z Lebanese Cuisine and Big Eyed Fish opening in the coming months, Washington Avenue is poised for a comeback.