Eaters who've struck out trying to score reservations to Spring Hill's vaunted Monday night fried chicken pop-up will be relieved to learn the restaurant's shifting to a fried chicken-centric concept.
Spring Hill today announced it's trading its linens and braised short ribs for paper napkins, kimchi and expanded bar seating. The restaurant, renamed Ma'Ono, will debut Feb. 8 after a one-day closure for a staff meeting.
"He wanted to bring a new life to Spring Hill, to provide something exciting for the neighborhood," co-owner Marjorie Chang Fuller says of her husband, chef Mark Fuller.
When Fuller first started offering fried chicken dinners at the four-year old West Seattle restaurant, he cleaved to Midwestern traditions, serving his birds with family-style portions of spaetzle, mashed potatoes and other heartland fixings. He eventually canceled the popular event, but customer uproar forced him to fry again.
"He wanted to bring something that recalled the flavors of picnics he had with his family," Fuller says. The kitchen began treating its chickens with Korean, Chinese and Japanese seasonings, and offering Spam musubi, kimchi, macaroni salad and rice on the side.
The new menu tapped into a vein of unrequited affection for kimchi, Fuller says.
"It's surprising to me, there's a lot of people who love kimchi," says Fuller, who's also enjoyed introducing Spam to customers better acquainted with gnocchi and liver pate.
"It's been fun, because a lot of people through their growing up haven't had the chance to experience musubi," she says.
In addition to the items already familiar to fans of the pop-up, the new standard menu includes poke, short ribs, barbecue pork buns, whipped pan drippings and mochi cake for dessert.
New signage, menus and business cards are in the works for Ma'Ono, but Fuller says the décor will stay largely the same. The biggest change is the construction of a 10-seat counter near the front door.
"We seem to have more customers who enjoy eating in the bar," Fuller says.
According to Fuller, a new cocktail menu is also being developed. "They've slowly been expanding their whiskey line," she says.
Ma'Ono will still serve its signature burger, and plans to continue brunch service. Fuller says the brunch menu won't immediately change - the saimin isn't going anywhere - but "he'll slowly start to incorporate more Ma'Ono items."
The restaurant will be open seven nights a week.
"It's going to be a good mix," Fuller says. "I think people will still see Spring Hill in Ma'ono."