Hillcrest’s restaurant landscape will change in a big way over the next few months, starting this week with the closing of District Fare. The sandwich shop and charcuterie is closing Saturday in coordination with the ongoing construction of Hill Station, the new restaurant just down the street across from El Mezcal and Mylo Coffee Co. However, District Fare will not stay closed. It will reopen later this fall as H.A.M., a return to the much-loved name that Brandon Brown first brought to the neighborhood in 2011. Daniel Bryant, who owns both District Fare and Hill Station, says there are a lot of moving parts, but in the end he thinks customers will be happy.
“We’re going to use the District Fare space as a training kitchen for Hill Station employees,” said Bryant. “We want to open Hill Station as soon as possible, and we obviously can’t train while construction is going on. That’s why we’re closing District Fare probably a little earlier than we need to. We don’t want to be opening both at the same time.”
After Saturday, District Fare will close and undergo a full remodel. The space will serve as the prep kitchen for Hill Station, where employees will grind meat for burgers and perform all other behind-the-scenes work for the restaurant. However, it will also be open to the public as H.A.M., with double the meat counter space and significantly more market items, such as bread, cheese, oil and local foodstuffs. It will also feature take-and-heat meals to-go. H.A.M. will not sell sandwiches nor have seating; think Hillcrest Area Market rather than Hillcrest Artisan Meats.
“We like District Fare,” said Bryant. “[Former owner] Tomas [Bohm] did a good job with it, I don’t want to take anything away from him and what he did here. But with Brandon being involved, we thought it was the right time to go back. We all call it H.A.M. right now anyway, Brandon still answers the phone as H.A.M., so we figured it would be the right time to do it.”
H.A.M. is scheduled to reopen in September before Hill Station opens. Hill Station will have just under 100 seats and an outdoor park and green space. It will serve the burgers and sandwiches at lunch that Brandon Brown became famous for. At dinner, the menu will change a bit, though Bryant did not want to reveal the dinner menu plans just yet. He did say that dinner entrees would rotate regularly so that Hill Station is always offering a diverse menu.
“It’s a neighborhood restaurant,” said Bryant. “The idea is if you come here multiple times in a week, you’ll be able to find something different to eat. There will be some things that people can expect, like there is at District Fare now.”
Bryant is targeting early October to open Hill Station to coordinate with the neighborhood HarvestFest festival on Oct. 12. While the business that day would undoubtedly be high, Bryant feels that it’s important for his new restaurant to participate in the community event of the year. Right now, construction is still in progress and will have to move at a good pace to meet that deadline. We’ll keep an eye on this story and update you on both H.A.M. and Hill Station in the coming months.
Disclosure: Steve Shuler is the chair of HarvestFest, a committee of the Hillcrest Merchants Association. Daniel Bryant is vice president of the Hillcrest Merchants Association.