Patrick Curran moved to D.C. last year to open Momofuku CCDC in the new CityCenterDC development. This was after working as a line cook, sous chef and chef de cuisine at the restaurant’s New York City location with David Chang, a D.C.-area native. Momofuku CCDC officially opened its doors on October 24 of last year and since then, the early hustle has led to rewarding moments and exciting plans for the future.
Eater sat with Patrick to discuss the first year’s successes and challenges.
What has the trajectory been like since you opened Momofuku CCDC?
Yeah, it’s been almost a year now, which feels crazy. I would say it feels like we opened about a month ago. There are certainly days where it seems like it’s standing still, but for the most part, I’d say that it moves pretty fast. I’ve been thinking a lot about it over the last couple of weeks, just that we are almost at the one year [mark] and, at the end of the day, we’re feeling very lucky, very fortunate to be where we are right now. The reception that we’ve received down here in D.C. has been pretty outstanding, from the chefs to the community to the guests. It’s been everything I could’ve hoped for and asked for. And now it’s great to have year one down. It’s nice to have that down and now we’re excited to be focused on year two, pushing forward and seeing what we can do next. Pretty much every two or three months in the first year, we opened up a new section of the restaurant, which for me was both stressful and exciting.
What else new is coming?
There’s definitely more. We [just started] serving our brunch. It took a little while to get going, but we’re glad that it’s finally here and we have some new brunch-only items that we’ve been working on, which are actually some of my favorites right now, [like the twice-cooked pork noodles and ginger chicken jook]. So, that’s next and after that, we’ll have to keep going with different large formats. Right now, we have the Bo Ssäm and the Fried Chicken dinner — just keep moving and keep offering more items and more exciting things for people to come try.
What have been some challenges this past year that have stood out?
There’s been a lot. You know, anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant or opens a restaurant would say that there’s a different challenge every day. Take the blizzard, for example. I had no idea that the city was going to shut down for three days.
Where are you from?
Western New York, so I’m from up by Rochester, originally. And I’d been in New York City for six or seven years, to come down here — yeah, it was a good snowstorm, but I was shocked with how we shut down for three days. You just gotta roll with the punches and the main goal is always keeping staff safe and making sure that their best interest is always at heart. It was obviously the decision to make, but it was an interesting one that I didn’t see coming.
DC has a hard time with blizzards because the metro shuts down, which means restaurants have to shut down.
Right, the metro’s been another interesting one for us. We’re used to New York City; it’s 24-7. Sometimes, the G or the L is interesting, but for the most part they all run 24-7, so everyone can get to and from and here it shuts down at midnight during the weekdays, 2 or 3 [a.m.] during the weekends, so it affects our hours of operation a little bit, getting staff home and sending line cooks home, letting sous chefs finish up the cleaning or whatever the case may be.
What have been some of the highlights of the past year?
There have been a lot. The different areas opening have been really fun and exciting. Walking by the patio is pretty cool and seeing it full of people — you know, a year ago there was construction. I think CityCenter has done a great job with the outdoor park here, with the water fountains. I think it’s a nice place to sit out and enjoy a meal.
The staff that we have has been great. We’re just growing the team. Really, we started with a couple of people and we now have a pretty massive staff that are excited and care about what they’re doing. They come to work every day and do their best. It’s been pretty exciting to watch that grow out of really nothing.
Do you have any specific objectives for year two?
We’re sort of at a place where things are working and they’re moving. Now is really just a great time for us to think about what has been successful, what has been okay, what hasn’t been successful and really just dial in and improve. Keep making it interesting; keep getting that person who was here on day one, something new to try in year three and year four, hopefully.