Photo of chowder fries courtesy of Slapfish

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The restaurant that invented chowder fries and a half crab, half lobster stuffed grilled cheese sandwich called the “Clobster,” is opening its first location in D.C. this December. The Southern California-based chainlet from Chef Andrew Gruel will take over the space Capriotti’s vacated at 1800 M St. NW.

There’s already a Slapfish in Rockville and two more are planned for Ballston and Loudoun County. 

“I’m from New Jersey originally and know the Mid-Atlantic well,” Gruel says. “We loved the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area because of the ties to the local fishing community.”

He believes people in this region understand they have to pay a little to get quality seafood and they’re willing to try more adventurous options. “There’s a huge learning curve in other markets,” Gruel explains. “In this market, you can fast forward to chapter four instead of starting with the intro.” He’ll look to serve invasive species like Chesapeake blue catfish and snakehead fish. “There’s such a bounty of great, lesser-known species throughout the Mid-Atlantic.” 

The menu at the forthcoming D.C. location will have all of the classics from other locations. Unique to this location will be an extended grab-and-go menu with items like sandwiches and a build-your-own lobster roll kit. They will also serve breakfast featuring indulgent items like a lobster breakfast burrito. 

Asked why he thinks Slapfish doesn’t feel like a chain, Gruel says “a lot of people think when you franchise, it’s a cut and paste job. We like the model because each unit or set of units have their own owner or operator. You have someone running it with skin in the game. It’s their business. We can entrust them to say create relationships with distributors and fishermen … It’s a great way to go after serving sustainable seafood.”

Slapfish, 1800 M St. NW; slapfishrestaurant.com