Spring Hill is probably West Seattle’s most-acclaimed restaurant and owner Mark Fuller, formerly head man at Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Lounge, is undoubtedly the neighborhood’s most accomplished chef.
So it was a shock this week when Fuller and co-owner Marjorie Chang Fuller announced that they are changing the restaurant’s name and concept – from deftly prepared Northwest cuisine to Hawaiian fried chicken.As of Feb. 8, Spring Hill will be Ma’ono Fried Chicken & Whisky.
This is not as random as it might seem. Fuller’s mother is Hawaiian and he lived on Kauai briefly and spent many summers visiting his grandparents there.More to the point, Spring Hill has staged fried chicken Mondays for several months and they have been the restaurant’s busiest nights.
“The response we have received for fried chicken dinners has always been a little staggering,” Chang Fuller said by email. “It has become what we are known for, so we decided to adapt and are excited for the new menu changes!”
It seems another case of customers shying away from full-priced entrees in a down economy and also an indication of restaurant realities in West Seattle.Spring Hill is on the north end of The Junction, the neighborhood’s oldest and most concentrated business district. The area hosts a number of popular casual restaurants and lounges, but no other places quite in Spring Hill’s class.
And West Seattle is just remote enough to discourage would-be eaters from other parts of the city, especially with the restaurant scenes booming in neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill and Ballard.Trying to lure more customers, the Fullers increased the number of small plates on the menu in September. In November, they brought back the Monday pop-up concept of fried chicken dinners served with four preparations – regular, Korean, Japanese and Chinese, with an assortment of related side dishes.As the crowds came, the move to Ma’ono made more and more sense.
“The main reason for the change was to be able to offer the customers what they want more of, which is the fried chicken, and we are adapting to this need by providing the Ma’ono concept and menu,” Chang Fuller said.Ma’ono is Hawaiian for “to make flavor” or “to make delicious.”
The new menu offers a whole chicken for two for $42 with cheesy grits, cucumber apple salad and kimchi. There also are abundant small dishes, many fitting the Hawaiian theme.A notable survivor from the original menu is the celebrated half-pound burger with house bacon and fries. It stands as a monument to Spring Hill – high-priced $17 and memorable.GLENN DROSENDAHL blogs about restaurants, chefs and food for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: GDrose | Click here to sign up for the PSBJ Daily Update