The restaurant group that owns Federalist Pig in Adams Morgan has spent over a year sifting through regulatory red tape so it can start building a second location at the site of an old tire shop in downtown Hyattsville. Maryland-based fans of pitmaster Rob Sonderman’s barbecue won’t have wait until construction is done, however, to sample his menu closer to home. Federalist Pig plans to set up a custom mobile kitchen to dispense takeout and delivery orders from the parking lot (5504 Baltimore Avenue) around the end of September.
Restaurateur Steve Salis commissioned the 25-foot trailer — complete with a fryer, a stove, a flat top grill, and an entirely wood-burning smoker from J&R Manufacturing — from a company in Texas.
“It’s going to be a real showpiece,” Salis says.
The mobile kitchen will allow Federalist Pig, which garnered a Bib Gourmand nod in the 2020 Michelin Guide, to start building a customer base in Maryland while Salis Holdings constructs a 2,500-square-foot restaurant with bar service and a patio. Salis hopes that project can be completed in the first half of 2021. Once the restaurant is up and running in a new building, the mobile kitchen can test out other potential markets and set up shop at festivals and events.
Sonderman says Federalist Pig has been receiving emails and Facebook messages inquiring about its Hyattsville operation “almost daily.” The mobile kitchen gives him everything he needs to run a pared-down version of Federalist Pig’s menu, plus whatever sandwich specials he wants to cook up on the flattop.
While Federalist Pig has continued to do solid carryout business throughout the novel coronavirus, Sonderman says he misses getting to see customers reveal a big smile after their first bite of brisket or ribs.
“It definitely sucks on our end to not be able to get that face-to-face interaction as much as we used to,” he says.
Relying entirely on wood fires will let him play around with different types of hardwood than the varieties he uses to add heavy streams of smoke into the gas-assisted rig in Adams Morgan. But, Sonderman says, he’ll balance his desire to desire to experiment against a commitment to keeping flavors consistent with what customers will find at the original location. That restaurant, on Columbia Road NW, will add J&R smokers when it undergoes renovations and takes over the former mobile phone store next-door.
Sonderman and Salis are also busy developing a new fried chicken restaurant, Honeymoon Chicken, in the former Slim’s Diner space in Petworth.
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