The pop-up that brought D.C. some of the most satisfying sandwiches and snacks during the pandemic is here to stay. Fight Club, from chef and restaurateur Andrew Markert, is moving into the former Hank’s Oyster Bar space on Capitol Hill. That’s just a few doors down from Markert’s first restaurant, Beuchert’s Saloon, which operated as Fight Club for over a year. Chef Bart Hutchins and beverage director Mackenzie Conway have signed on as partners.
Fight Club’s creations make you feel like you’re feeding your inner kid. Imagine half-smoke studded hush puppies or a ham sandwich that’s anything but ordinary with Benton’s smoked ham, braised mustard greens, onion fondue, and aged cheddar on rye.
“Sandwiches as a whole are always something that are very comforting,” Markert says. “During the pandemic people were looking for comforting food and environments in general. Everyone always loves a good sandwich and are always looking for a new sandwich.”
The FC Chicken Doink with its crispy buttermilk-brined chicken thigh, Crystal hot sauce mayo, bread and butter pickles, “shrettuce,” and tomato on maple cakes was one of the most popular picks during the duration of the pop-up. Markert also has a knack for addressing dessert cravings with churros and ice cream sandwiches. He’s banking on the calling for comfort sticking around.
When Fight Club opens at 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE in Spring 2022, it will have an expanded menu with dishes that retain the restaurant’s playful spirit like Nashville hot lamb shanks. Markert says he and Hutchins will introduce some large plates like fried chicken, brisket, and ribs. Some will be “pull-and-eat” plates that allow diners to build their own sandwiches at the table. The snack section of the menu will grow, and Markert is hoping the chicken wing shortage clears up before lift off.
Fight Club will have a full bar, but punches and cocktails from Conway and bar manager Cory Holzerland remain the focus. Look for large-format punches that are fun to share and even some punches on draft.
The space has good bones, having played host to neighborhood staple Hank’s Oyster Bar for almost a decade. But Markert says he’s giving it a bit of a makeover. Picture a spunky space filled with bright colors, quirky wallpaper, and murals. In addition to indoor bar, high-top, and dining room seating, Fight Club will also have patio tables. Markert is hoping for a fun, energetic atmosphere and says to expect good music and DJ brunches.
Markert, who will triple his portfolio in 2022, has another restaurant to open before Fight Club. Newland, a fine dining restaurant, should welcome its first diners in the former Montmartre space this winter. “It makes sense as a business owner to have that kind of range within a restaurant group,” he says. “The restaurant industry will have a good bounce back here in D.C.”
Fight Club, 633 Pennsylvania Ave. SE; fightclubdc.com