Emerging Brands

Slapfish spins off a raw-bar concept

The chef-operator behind the Slapfish fast-casual chain has revealed plans to open a shellfish and beer bar this month called Raw Bar by Slapfish.

The prototype, slated for Huntington Beach, Calif., will consist of a 16-seat wraparound bar where customers can watch the staff open oysters for sale on the half shell. The menu also includes smoked fish, ceviche and what proprietor Andrew Gruel calls seafood charcuterie.

Beverage options include 16 craft beers, priced between $2 and $5, as well as sake and wine.

Seats are available for customers who prefer full service.

The pilot operation is located next to a Slapfish, one of 11 in the chain.

Other planned features include an “oyster sommelier,” who’ll help match varieties of the shellfish to customers’ preferences; “sip and slurp” competitions; and classes on oysters.

Gruel said he will purchase his oysters exclusively from responsible suppliers.

In addition to Slapfish, Gruel founded and operates two food hall concepts, Two Birds and Butterleaf.

The establishment will be part of a mini boom in casual raw bars within California. Among the restaurants selected by OpenTable users as one of 2017’s best restaurants is Fishing with Dynamite, which is similarly casual and specializes in shellfish on the half shell.

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