After more than year on North Second Street, a Jackson Ward barbecue joint is taking the whole hog to the Museum District.
The Cultured Swine will close its restaurant at 317 N. Second St. on Friday, said co-owner Corey Johnson, in favor of a new carry-out food stand and delivery post in the Grindstone Community Kitchen on Kensington Avenue.
The restaurant, which Johnson owns with business partner and childhood friend Eric Freund, looks to open by early 2017, pending approval from the city.
“We love Jackson Ward, and enjoy very much being a part of the neighborhood,” Johnson said. “But the location we’re moving to will give us more kitchen space and a stove, which will be nice to have since where we are now, we do not have a stove or a hood.”
The Grindstone Community Kitchen has been a launching pad for a number of catering and small restaurants for a number of years, including Richmond-based Daily Jars.
Cultured Swine established its restaurant in Jackson Ward in spring 2015 after about a year of running catering and a food cart near Brown’s Island.
In Jackson Ward, Cultured Swine has been part of local restaurateur and businessman Michael Ng’s vision to bring a restaurant row to the downtown neighborhood.
Ng owns Cultured Swine’s building, which took up 750 square feet on the ground level, along with most of that block of Second Street that houses Big Herm’s Kitchen, Jkogi and Bodillaz.
Johnson said the restaurant was drawn to the Museum District’s concentration of residents and foot traffic. And setting up in the commercial kitchen allows Cultured Swine to get into the neighborhood affordably.
“It was a good match for us and what we wanted to do,” Johnson said. “We’re doing pretty good right now, so the goal is to make more money without spending a lot…this move allows us to do that, and be smart about our bottom line.”
Once set up in their new kitchen space, Johnson said they plan to operate from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. He plans to introduce a new menu that will include more vegan and vegetarian options.
Cultured Swine will also deliver to the surrounding area, and customers will be able to call in their take out orders, Johnson said.
“The idea is to be more convenient,” Johnson said. “There’s a large concentration of people to where they can pick up a rack of ribs on the way home, or stop by after a night at Bandito’s.”
The days when Cultured Swine is closed, Johnson said he and his business partner plan to focus on their traveling stand and catering business, which has been a big income generator for the restaurant.
“The catering and stand business has been doing great,” Johnson said. “That has kept us busy enough to where we can afford not to stay open so many times during the week.”
While leaving their Jackson Ward roots, Johnson said Cultured Swine would eventually like to return to the rapidly changing neighborhood.
“When we decide to open a second location, it will be in Jackson Ward,” Johnson said. “We would locate in a different building that was bigger than where we originated, but we would definitely come back to the area.”