Primrose is normally in the business of pairing French wines with fancy bistro fare like bone marrow, pork cheeks, and Parisian gnocchi. While the novel coronavirus pandemic forces D.C. restaurants to focus on takeout and delivery, the Bib Gourmand eatery in Northeast’s Brookland neighborhood is hoping to lure isolated customers with to-go buckets of fried chicken and biscuits.
On Friday, March 20, four days after D.C.’s dine-in ban went into effect, Primrose took on a new identity as a carryout operation called Larry’s Chicken and Cheeseburgers. Place orders on the phone from noon to 4 p.m. for same-day pickup (3000 12th Street NE).
While Primrose competes with Popeye’s, chef Jonathan De Paz is also serving a Memphis-style pulled pork sandwich on brioche. Primrose’s destination burger also comes in a double.
”We are [now] essentially a fried chicken and natural wine shop,” co-owner Sebastian Zutant says. “Sounds pretty cool, if only it didn’t come with such chaos and tribulation.”
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Back at it doin it for Brklnd. New Memphis style pulled pork Sammy. We also made up some more duck liver mousse for you old school heads. Taking orders now, we open at 4. Call us at @ 202 248 4558. Please be aware that a 20% service fee will be applied to each order and distributed to the staff. All the love!
So far, neighborhood regulars have come through for the 2-year-old business.
”The first couple days we blew through stuff. We are truly humbled by the support,” Zutant says, adding he hopes to serve anyone wanting to tap into the residential Northeast strip for takeout.
Simonet Cremant d’Alsace bubbly flowed freely over Larry’s inaugural weekend of service, but D.C. has since adopted liquor laws to keep people from drinking while awaiting takeout orders.
Zutant, a longtime staple of the local hospitality scene who helped open Komi and the Red Hen, was already planning to debut fried chicken as a Sunday splurge this month — way before coronavirus madness ensued.
”I fucking love fried chicken,” he says. “I always want comfort food on Sundays because it’s my day off, so I get to eat what I want. Thus usually high in deliciousness, low in health.”
The expanded idea, which now headlines its daily takeout menu, includes a carryout bottle of hot sauce.
Intentionally paring down the menu these days keeps the bottom line in mind. Familiar hits that made the cut for carryout include Primrose’s juicy roasted chicken, Roseda Farms steak-and-frites, and even more duck liver mousse than before. The lineup will likely rotate but not expand past a short page.
Zutant says a new wine club will launch next week, which will likely include a Lightwell Survey label of lesser-known Virginian wines. For now, to-go bottles are $35.
Primrose’s new handle comes from a surprising place. Larry is the nickname Zutant’s brother gave him when he changed his birth name (Jonathan) to Sebastian at age 21.
”I told my brother Jayson I changed my name and he said, ‘Fuck you, I’m not calling you that, I’m calling you Larry,’” Zutant says.
As restaurants face uncertainty as their next rent payment comes due, Primrose sits in a steadier boat than many. Its landlord is the D.C. Firefighters Association. Washington City Paper reports the association has vowed to keep its tenant afloat.
”It’s pretty special to see the kind of support they offer, it certainly doesn’t happen often,” Zutant says, adding, “There are plenty of chicken buckets with their names on them.”
Primrose has still had to lay off some staff, and Zutant started a Gofundme page for them. A 20 percent service fee will be applied to each Larry’s order.