The planned Willie T’s Seafood Shack and Be Right Burger opening at 9326 Georgia Ave. will fill what the company sees as a need in the area, according to Cole Whaley, vice president of business development for Thompson Hospitality.
Whaley spoke to the Source yesterday to provide additional background and detail on the two restaurants.
Willie T’s is named for CEO Warren Thompson’s grandfather, who had fishing boats a long time ago, Whaley said. He created the original Willie T’s seafood shack offering lobster, shrimp and crab rolls.
“One of our divisions is corporate offices, so we do cafeterias in 60 of the Fortune 500 companies around the country,” Whaley said. “Willie T’s as a lobster shack operates in some of those.”
The company last year decided to expand the concept and start offering items such as fried and grilled catfish, shrimp, oysters and lobsters.
“We want to bring Wharf-style seafood,” Whaley said, referring to the Wharf along the Washington, D.C waterfront that has served the city for years, “that style of seafood out to the suburbs.”
Once they had the concept set, they moved it into the Austin Grill in Springfield, Va. (another of the company’s outlets) as a pop-up.
“I personally used to eat at Andy’s in Silver Spring,” he said. When the space became available, the company looked at it for about a year and then negotiated a lease for the location.
“BRB is another brand we have,” Whaley said. “Sometimes we operate in airports, sometimes in college campuses.”
BRB currently is open in both Dulles and Reagan National airports and the company, noticing the lack of a burger place in that Georgia Avenue corridor, decided to combine the two concepts in one location.
“When you come in, you can order burgers or from the seafood menu as well,” Whaley said, under the tagline “Fresh, Fried, Grilled.”
It will primarily focus on counter service and takeout, but there will be seating for about 27 people to dine in, and they plan to have a full liquor license.
The company has started construction and Whaley said he ordered equipment this week. The group is aiming for a mid- to late-January opening.
Top photo by David Lay. Oyster po’ boy platter photo courtesy Willie T’s