Exporting MilkBoy from the City of Brotherly of Love down to College Park, Md., hasn’t happened overnight.
“It’s been three years in the making,” Bill Hanson, a partner in the southward-stretching MIlkBoy empire, said of expansion plans that began taking shape a while back.
Per Hanson, the wheels started turning when a development company familiar with the Philadelphia-based restaurant/music hall mentioned that the University of Maryland was interested in restructuring the area immediately surrounding the campus by bringing in like-minded businesses.
Once a preexisting sports bar (The Barking Dog) threw in the towel in late 2013, Hanson said MilkBoy hashed out a deal with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to breathe new life into the split-level structure at 7416 Baltimore Ave.
As part of the sweeping renovation Team MilkBoy has carved up the mammoth structure — projected to accommodate hundreds of patrons on a time, depending on final permitting — thusly: a main dining room and bar, with a small stage; a front bar with signature paneling; a mammoth performance space with its own giant bar; and a sunlight-filled “gallery” for local artists to showcase their works.
“If we can be that bridge from campus to community, that would bring us a great amount of pride,” Hanson said of the company’s vision for the multi-purpose facility.
In addition to providing a second home for UMD events — “There will be a shared programming model between us and the Clarice Center,” Hanson said — the restaurant intends to seek out acts from across the musical spectrum.
“Everything from EDM to classical to indie rock” is how Hanson described his dream bookings.
Executive chef Chris Beyer told Eater the evolving space boasts the biggest kitchen of all the MIlkBoy locations. But the extra room is unlikely to affect his core menu.
Beyer said he prides himself not on doing wildly different things, but on executing that which he knows better than anyone else. “Our nachos, everything on the plate is made in house,” he said, ticking off a prep list that includes spot frying hand-cut tortillas into chips, and dicing plum tomatoes, red onions and jalapenos to produce authentic pico de gallo. Same goes for his chicken wings (prepared confit-style in duck fat), gourmet burgers (one hangover helper features Thai chili aioli and fried eggs) and sweets (beer doughnuts? Yes, please!).
“You can go get a cold beer and warm burger anywhere. But you’re not going to get the experience you do here,” Hanson asserted.
Per Hanson, the beverage program is expected to feature mostly craft beers, including a half-dozen drafts and approaching 30 canned offerings.
“This is not the place where you are going to get the $2 pitcher of beer,” he advised. It sounds like hard liquor, too, will skew towards eye-opening stuff.
“Our whiskey list will be unparalleled in College Park, you can rest assured,” Hanson said, citing an affinity for bourbon and rye.
Hanson estimated that the restaurant would debut this spring; lunch, happy hour and dinner service all seem to be in the mix for the opening.