Hen Quarter focuses on two things: Southern food and bourbon.
The new concept from Pheast Food Group is opening its second Washington, D.C., area location in downtown Silver Spring on Monday in the former Silver Plaza home of Austin Grill on Ellsworth Drive. The first Hen Quarter opened in Old Town Alexandria earlier this year.
On Thursday, employees were preparing for the opening by finalizing details, practicing in the kitchen and serving a few invited customers.
The restaurant features an open layout with a rustic, farmhouse look. Metal cutouts of chickens and oversized spoons and forks hang from the walls.
There is seating for about 165 diners inside and more than 20 on an outdoor patio. Garage windows on the front of the restaurant facing the fountain plaza can be opened to give the space a more airy feel.
Robyn Leenaerts, a Pheast Food Group spokeswoman, said the restaurant is designed to entice people to “come into our barn.”
Pheast is a subsidiary of Thompson Hospitality, the large hospitality company that operates Austin Grill as well. Leenaerts said Thursday the company decided to convert the former Tex-Mex restaurant into a Hen Quarter restaurant because of increasing national competition in the Tex-Mex restaurant industry. She said the plan is to test the new Southern concept in the D.C. area before possibly expanding it to other locations. A third location is planned for D.C.’s Penn Quarter.
The bar at the restaurant offers about 75 different types of bourbon and other whiskeys as well as craft beer and wine.
“If you’re a bourbon connoisseur at all, you’re going to appreciate what we have going on here,” Leenaerts said. The spirit is served in a variety of cocktails and bourbon flights or in a glass straight up or on the rocks.
The menu offerings range from fried chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits to apple pie and slow-cooked short rib frites. Leenaerts said chicken crackling appetizer, which is fried chicken skin served with a Sriracha honey sauce, has been popular at the Alexandria location as well as the kale salad. The restaurant keeps a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce on every table.
While lunch and dinner service will start next week, Leenaerts said the restaurant isn’t planning to start serving weekend brunch until after Christmas.
She said the restaurant, which will employ about 100 people, is hoping to provide some Southern hospitality to Silver Spring, according to its motto, “Our food is raised right and so is our staff,” she said.
Hen Quarter exterior