Due to a few small construction-related delays, the opening of Whiskey & Oyster will be delayed until sometime next week, general manager Stephen Greksouk said Tuesday. The restaurant was previously scheduled to open May 15.
The much-anticipated eatery at 301 John Carlyle St., in Alexandria’s Carlyle District is also hiring for several positions. Those who are interested should contact Greksouk at [email protected] or stop by the restaurant between 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Here’s more about the restaurant, from our previous story:
The restaurant will be the 15th for Mike Anderson and his family, in a career that began in 1979. The eatery, in Alexandria’s Carlyle District, will be one of six the Andersons currently operate in Alexandria as part of the Homegrown Restaurant Group.
Whiskey & Oyster will offer seating for 100 inside and 50 outside for lunch and dinner in a comfortable, vibrant atmosphere with hints of the sea found in local artwork and decor. Look for booth and banquette seating in the dining area, as well as a bar, an oyster bar and a handmade large-group table, inlaid with oyster shells, that seats 16. Free parking for restaurant patrons will be available in the building’s garage after 5 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday.
“When we go into an area we try to see what’s missing,” Anderson said. “Down here obviously barbecue was missing so we opened Sweetfire Donna’s. My wife Donna gets full credit for that, I take no credit for that success. And it [Caryle] was missing a Mexican joint, so we opened Tequila & Taco. We felt citywide there was a need for a seafood restaurant. They’re difficult to do well.”
Anderson discussed why seafood can be tricky. “Product is very perishable, it’s very temperamental when you cook it,” he said. “You overcook a piece of fish 30 seconds and you ruin it. You overcook a steak 30 seconds, nobody knows any difference. Food costs are traditionally high for seafood.”
Back in the ’80s, he opened East Port Raw Bar, that became a popular spot in the city’s West End. “This is kind of version 2.0 of that,” Anderson said. Inspiration came from a visit to Southport Raw Bar in Fort Lauderdale.
General Manager Stephen Greksouk, whose culinary lineage includes stints at Kimpton (Morrison House) and Evening Star Cafe in Del Ray, will manage the restaurant. Greksouk grew up in the area, attending Hayfield High School. He has a business management degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and returned to Alexandria after serving in the Air Force.
“The restaurant is certainly not a seafood shack — it’s going to be more eclectic,” Greksouk said.
The restaurant is designed to appeal to a variety of demographics and preferences — Old Town residents who may not always come to the neighborhood, Carlyle residents and the business community at lunchtime and after work and fast casual, Anderson said.
“I think Carlyle residents are surprised to find a community here — we’re trying to create that here,” said Marketing Manager Chelsea Anderson.
Shane Henderson, the head chef at Whiskey & Oyster, is a Culinary Institute grad who has spent 25 years helming kitchens in restaurants in D.C. (including Bar Deco), Pennsylvania and Napa Valley (Meadowood).
The extensive menu includes raw seafood towers (in two sizes) for sharing, Oyster Ramekins Rockefeller, Etouffee Nachos and Lobster Bisque Fries as appetizers. Entrees include a Bourbon Maple Shrimp and Grits, Broiled Virginia Trout and a Lobster Roll. A special lunch menu will be available and will include carry-out using a separate entrance. Steam pots made in steam-powered kettles will be available in six selections, created on the spot: House Pan Roast, Clam Chowder, Cioppino, Lobster Bouillabaisse, Chicken Ramen and a vegetarian Moroccan Style. The steam pots are influenced by the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York, Anderson said.
A fun overhead rotating conveyor aka “Whiskey a Go Go” will make a variety — more than 100 — whiskies visible. The conveyor was repurposed from a former dry cleaner adjacent to the spot. Also look for craft beers, wines and ciders.
Anderson said he is most looking forward to the grilled oysters on the menu, which will be prepared four different ways: Garlic Butter, Fennel BBQ, Chili Garlic and Parmesan Crusted. Six to eight varieties of oysters will be available shipped in from Prince Edward Island to the Gulf of Mexico.
Chelsea Anderson designed the restaurant’s mermaid logo.
“I want it to be the identity marker for the restaurant,” said Anderson who spent 10 to 12 hours on the mermaid’s hair alone. She drew inspiration from a 7-foot metal sculpture of a mermaid created for the restaurant by artist Chris Erney, whose studio is located at the Torpedo Factory at Alexandria’s waterfront. He has also created a 10-foot metal wave piece for the restaurant.
Other sea-inspired decor includes shiplap walls, blue lighting that highlights wave-textured walls and paintings of fish by other local artists.
Portions of the restaurant’s proceeds will go to Alexandria charity, ALIVE! which offers families assistance. “There’s a lot of love here,” Chelsea Anderson said.
“We hope Alexandria embraces us,” Mike Anderson said.