Less than a year after Jamie Leeds knocked down the walls and expanded her original Hank’s Oyster Bar near Dupont Circle, the chef and owner plans to do it all over again with her Old Town location. Hank’s will essentially double its capacity when it takes over the neighboring space at 1024 King St., the former Chinoiserie shop.
Leeds says crews will build a 28-foot-long bar in the new space, adding about 30 seats total between the bar and adjacent tables. Once that addition is finished, crews will then break down the wall between the two rowhouse spaces, creating one larger one. Leeds plans to demolish the small bar in the existing restaurant and add about 20 seats in the main dining room there. Capacity will increase by nearly 50 seats.
“We have a lot of single diners who like to come and eat at the bar,” Leeds said this afternoon. “So this will be nice for people.”
Leeds doesn’t expect the same hassles in Old Town she faced in Dupont, where the Advisory Neighborhood Commission protested the restaurant’s expansion. (It was later withdrawn.) First off, the Old Town location has no patio seating, which was one source of tension in Dupont, and it is in a far more commercial corridor.
The owner doesn’t expect to interrupt service at the existing Old Town restaurant, save perhaps for a long weekend in which the walls will be torn down and the old bar removed. Leeds is hoping for a fall debut for the larger Hank’s in Alexandria.
Once completed, the chef plans to expand her menu slightly to go along with her expanded restaurant. She foresees adding “tabletop steam kettles to the raw bar for oyster stew.” Steamed clams and shrimp, too.
Let the countdown begin.