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Chicken + Whiskey hopes to start serving this week in Clarendon

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) Chicken + Whiskey is preparing to open in Clarendon later this week, a co-owner confirmed to ARLnow.

The new South American rotisserie chicken restaurant and whiskey bar at 3033 Wilson Blvd aims to start serving this Friday (June 9), co-owner Des Reilly said, provided a Virginia ABC liquor is in hand by then. A grand opening is set for next weekend, June 16.

In September, ARLnow reported that Chicken + Whiskey was crossing the river to get Clarendon to open its first location outside the District and fourth overall. The menu consists of Peruvian-styled chicken, arepas, and sandwiches, plus a full cocktail and whiskey bar.

What makes Chicken + Whiskey different, said Reilly, is the chef.

“I bet you five bucks we are the only fast-casual restaurant on the East Coast that has a Michelin star,” he said. “Chef Enrique Limardo is really the uniqueness of it all.”

Limardo is “commonly credited as the pioneer of modern Venezuelan cooking in the U.S.,” so says the Huffington Post. He’s also the head chef at Immigrant Food and D.C.’s Seven Reasons, which was named one of the most important restaurants of the last decade by Esquire.

“Getting a guy like that who can make $8.50 Peruvian chicken with all the beautiful… Venezuela sides, that’s different,” Reilly said.

The nearly 6,000-square-foot space the restaurant is moving into was once Hunan Number One, which closed three years ago.

Reilly said that Clarendon had been “on their radar” for years and they very nearly leased out the exact same space in early 2020. However, the pandemic put expansion efforts “on the backburner.” When they came back a few years later, the 6,000-square-foot space at 3033 Wilson Blvd was still available.

The other businesses in the neighborhood are a big reason why ownership is so optimistic about Clarendon and this block of Wilson Blvd in particular.

“We always look at the other operators in the area. We like to see other brands… doing well, other restaurants thriving,” Reilly said. “There’s Ambar… Bar Ivy, which is in the same building as us… Wilson Hardware is across the street. There’s a whole sort of plethora of other great restaurants and bars that populate this area and makes it a real sort of critical mass location for us.”

While Chicken + Whiskey is set to hold its “soft opening” this Friday, there will be giveaways, food specials, and entertainment during its “grand opening” on June 16. That includes branded swag, a chance to win free chicken for a year, a $150 bar tab, and a lunch special of a chicken meal with two sides for five dollars.

As Reilly kept pointing out, the draw of Chicken + Whiskey will be the food at a decent price.

“To have a [chef] so highly rated doing a restaurant of a per person average of really $16… it’s pretty remarkable,” he said.

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