One of Bainbridge Island’s most recognized restaurants, Hitchcock, has made a strategic move amid the COVID-19 pandemic to transform its dining room into a Bavarian burger joint, Burgerhaus, which opened Tuesday on Winslow Way.
The German-style Burgerhaus will offer a selection of burgers made with dry-aged, pasture-finished Washington beef, chicken, lamb and fish sandwiches — along with local and organic salads, veggie side dishes, regular side dishes, plus shakes and floats. The concept will include subtle German twists such as beer served in steins, bratwurst and schnitzel specials, along with choucroute garnie .
“We’ve got two chefs in the company who spent time cooking in Germany, and it’s been great tapping into their knowledge for inspiration as we put the concept together,” owner and chef Brendan McGill said.
“It’s completely different,” he said of the menu. “I think the essence of what we do is there. The integrity of the food matches Hitchcock precisely. As far as execution, it’s nothing that you would ever see at Hitchcock.”
Since closing its dine-in service in March, Hitchcock experimented with a couple of service options, including the Sacka-Burger pop-up shop where customers could order online and do curbside pickup.
While that worked well, McGill said something new was needed as the weather turns.
“With the arrival of the cold and rainy weather, we decided to do a little revamp on Hitchcock’s dining room, expand on our burger concept, and give the community the burger joint they’ve always deserved,” he said.
Another idea McGill brought forward during the closure was pop-ups on the patio during the summer, where they served meals such as barbecue, tacos and oysters on various days.
“When all of that was going on at once, we were actually seeing a similar sales volume to what we would see in a similar month last year,” McGill said. “With the limited tourism that was happening and the lack of ability to really do stuff outside, that’s evaporated. We’re back to square one.”
As for if Hitchcock is permanently going away, McGill said he doesn’t want to plan too far out, given the ever-changing outlook of the pandemic. He mentioned possibly bringing it back by summer if the transmission rate is under control and there is a proven vaccine, but will also consider finding a new location for Hitchcock if Burgerhaus “becomes a runaway train.”
“These days, everything is up in the air,” McGill said.
With limited dine-in seating along with outdoor seating in the “biergarten” Burgerhaus will provide a festive winter with boozy shakes, beer, wine and cocktails for grownups and locally made natural sodas, floats and shakes for kids.
“We are inspired by the Bavarian tradition of partying in the cold; bring your puffy coat and enjoy a stein in the ‘garten with us,” their website states.
COVID-19 protocols at Burgerhaus will include keeping the doors open, 90-minute stays for guests, conservatively distanced tables, mandatory masks and temperature checks. Staff will also ask for one phone number from each party in the event that there is an outbreak and contact tracing needs to be conducted, McGill said.
Burgerhaus is located at 133 Winslow Way E. Visit hitchcockrestaurant.com for details.