Andre McCain is opening his first restaurant, HalfSmoke, in early August 2016. The 100-seat, 4,000 square-foot restaurant is located at 651 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. and will be the first of its kind. McCain is combining high-end finishes and top-of-the-line equipment befitting a fine dining restaurant for his “fun” casual concept.
This includes two wood-fired grills from Argentina, complete with an impressive ventilation system, multiple gas-burning fireplaces throughout the restaurant, along with five large flat-screen TVs, 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, 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 Wi-Fi, 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 third most consumed item in America,” McCain says. “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.
McCain tapped the nationally acclaimed designer team behind D.C.'s successful fast-casual chains, including Cava and Little Beet, to create his vision for HalfSmoke. Having completed numerous hospitality projects in Chicago and the surrounding area over the course of the company's 13-year history, d+k was 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.