Since leaving the World of Beer brand and becoming Crafthouse, Evan Matz is making a lot of changes.
“We used to have over 500 different beers, but now we do about less than half of that,” Matz said in an interview. “Even still, we have 50 beers on tap with the new addition of ciders, wine, spirits, any sort of drink.”
Matz said the changes in the restaurant (1888 Explorer St.), which had an official opening celebration last weekend, are about providing quality over quantity. The restaurant is now centered around local breweries including D.C. Brau, Ocelot, Port City and Blue Mountain; and distilleries including Copper Fox, Catoctin Creek and Filibuster. The menu has also been designed around sourcing ingredients from nearby farms; for example, all of the bread in the restaurant has been replaced by fresh baked products from Lyon Bakery.
“We want you to drink local, eat local and support local,” Matz said. “There’s an elevated difference in the food.”
The fallout with World of Beer Franchising Inc. that led to Matz rebranding his three area restaurants — in Reston, Fairfax and Ballston — has allowed him, he says, to expand the menu and cater to customer wants. Now that he has done so, to include items such as macaroni-and-cheese burgers and special brunch offers, Matz says there is a lot more variety for customers to enjoy.
“Now we’re able to offer all of these new starters and shareable items, which means a different happy hour special every day of the week,” he said.
Of course, there you can’t run a restaurant in Reston Town Center without facing its newest and biggest obstacle — the stigma that has come with paid parking.
“We give free validations to everyone who goes to Crafthouse, especially at lunchtime,” Matz said. “It’s just hard to get word out there that parking is now free after 5 p.m., a lot of people don’t seem to know that.”
Matz emphasized that customers need to understand that paid parking is not the restaurant’s fault.
“All we’re asking is that customers continue to come out and support local businesses,” he said.
The restaurant is open until midnight Sunday through Wednesday; 1 a.m. Thursday; and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit its website or call 571-375-0847.
Photos courtesy Crafthouse