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Sausage-Centric Eatery to Open on Florida Ave. Next Month

by Tim Regan July 7, 2016 at 8:30 am 2 Comments

A new eatery centered around half-smokes and aimed at millennials is slated to open near U Street next month.

Owner Andre McCain plans to open his first restaurant, HalfSmoke, at 651 Florida Ave. NW. in “early August 2016,” according to a press release.

The new eatery aims to be an “inviting, sleek neighborhood gathering place in Shaw for indulging on house-made sausages and homey side dishes,” the press release continued.

Diners will be able to order and dress half smokes, bratwursts and veggie dogs with traditional toppings like cheese, onions and relish alongside offerings like kimchi and pineapple salsa. The eatery’s menu will also include “offer house-made tater tots, mac and cheese balls, funnel cakes and milkshakes,” alongside beer, wine and cocktails according to the release.

More from HalfSmoke:

Andre McCain is pleased to announce the opening of his first restaurant, HalfSmoke in early August 2016. The 100-seat, 4,000 square-foot restaurant is located at 651 Florida Ave. NW, DC and will be the first of its kind and very unexpected on many levels. McCain is combining high-end finishes and top-of-the-line equipment befitting a fine dining restaurant for his “fun” casual concept. Examples include the two elaborate wood-fired grills from Argentina, complete with an impressive ventilation system, to the multiple gas-burning fireplaces throughout the restaurant along with five large flat screen TVs, engaging board games, and a complimentary library of books for reading and sharing. On the culinary front, James Beard award-winning renowned chef, Bob Kinkead is consulting for HalfSmoke and spearheading the kitchen for the sausage directive. This will be a first in the area for a fast casual restaurant with a 16-seat bar serving on-tap wine, craft beer, and specialty cocktails.

At a buildout cost of over 2.2 million dollars, HalfSmoke is the first restaurant of its kind to serve gourmet sausages via an assembly line format. It promises to be an inviting, sleek neighborhood gathering place in Shaw for indulging on house-made sausages and homey side dishes. McCain envisions his newcomer as a cool hangout spot for catching up on email via the free WiFi, meeting friends for a game of chess or relaxing at the bar to watch a game.

“HalfSmoke will fill the void for a premium offering of one of America’s longstanding favorite foods, the sausage, which is the 3rd most consumed item in America,” explains McCain. “Our sausages and toppings can be fully customized to create over 50,000 variations of food that’s fun, fanatical and full of flavor. The menu will also offer house-made tater tots, mac and cheese balls, funnel cakes and milkshakes. Pricing will range from $7 to $10 for sausage dishes and from $3 to $5 for sides. All of our items are all-natural, hormone and antibiotic-free and we strive to use the freshest premium ingredients available.”

The concept for HalfSmoke was cooked up at the Mess Hall Culinary Incubator where McCain participated as a member for almost one year, and finished as a finalist in their Launchpad competition. Mess Hall supports up-and-coming food entrepreneurs by providing commercial kitchens, shared resources, and access to a breadth of professionals with decades of industry experience.  A financier of five years turned restaurateur, after working at some successful fast casual restaurants to get his fingers in the pie, McCain tapped the nationally acclaimed designer team behind DC’s successful fast casual chains including Cava and Little Beet, to create his vision for HalfSmoke. He also spent two years learning to incorporate the best practices from this market dining segment working for six months at McDonald’s, Sweetgreen and Pret.  McCain also used the Internet and Linkedin to glean as much as he could about the industry before jumping in. He was able to talked to hundreds of people and learned a great deal about the business. Some of the noteworthy executives he became acquainted with are the former president of Starbucks, CEO of Cosi, CEO of Firehouse Subs, Founder of Boston Market, President of Jersey Mikes, President of Dunkin Donuts and the Chief Development Officer of Au Bon Pain.

Transforming a lively street corner in the heart of D.C.’s Shaw district into a hip, quick-casual concept was exactly what Andre McCain “ordered up.” Having completed numerous hospitality projects in Chicago and the surrounding area over the course of the company’s 13-year history, d+k was extremely excited to take on the challenge. d+k, alongside Hospitality Construction Services, Next Step Design, FACE Associates, Inc., Structura, Inc. and RC Fields and Associates, set out to combine modern design with the comfort and quality of the nostalgic neighborhood diner and the warmth of the American home.

The design boasts a multitude of intimate spaces that work cohesively, yet independently, throughout the restaurant. Here, patrons have the luxury of grabbing a seat at the open style kitchen bar, congregating in the side yard for a round of bags or cozying up to a fire in the curated private library.  One can grab a friend and head over to the photo booth to get their photo taken and pin it up on the wall for everyone to see.  Adorned with rich materials that hearken back to a time of comfort, reeded wood and cadet blue tiles accentuate the sleek, modern, Carrara bar top as eclectic lighting illuminate the existing brick walls.  Large floor-to-ceiling windows along Florida and Georgia Avenues allow abundant natural light into the space, as well as the activity from the sidewalk-in and the activity from the restaurant outside.

Comments (2)

  1. Glad to know he used the Internet and LinkedIn to “glean” as much information about the restaurant industry. But, does sound like an interesting concept.

  2. James Beard award-winning renowned chef, Bob Kinkead is consulting for HalfSmoke and spearheading the kitchen for the sausage directive

    The Sausage Directive sounds like a great name for a band.

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