A Conversation With Susan Feniger: Mud Hen Tavern and the Closing of Street
Susan Feniger in Street's parking lot garden
Yesterday, Susan Feniger announced that her Hollywood restaurant Street, which closed earlier this month, will be reopening as Mud Hen Tavern. Named after the baseball team Feniger went to see as a child in Toledo, Ohio, Mud Hen Tavern will be a neighborhood bar and restaurant. The word gastropub is being bandied about, but Feniger sounds as though her inspiration is pre-gastropub.
"I love the energy of Cheers, the TV show," she says. "I want something that's a neighborhood bar, where you'd come and just hang out, where you might bring the paper on Sunday and just hang out all day."
When asked why she felt the need to close Street, Feniger said she suspects it just wasn't right for the neighborhood. "Street is still a passion, and we do very well with the catering part of it. It just never translated well. It might be the neighborhood -- if we had opened in Silver Lake or on Rose Avenue in Venice, maybe it would have been different. Also, it maybe could have been more relaxed, I maybe wanted it to feel a little dumpier. It was too much of a commitment -- it felt like you should go there for a special occasion. People want to just come in, hang out and grab a bite. And we couldn't do that with the setup we had."
With that in mind, the setup will be changing for Mud Hen Tavern. "Inside we're putting in some booths and communal tables. The bar will be way more open and way more accessible. I want the indoor space and the outdoor space to mesh a little more. We are changing the whole feel. I plan to do Street again, and so I want this to be distinct and have its own personality."
Feniger doesn't know exactly when or where Street will happen again, though. "My plate is really full now," she says, "with the place at LAX, and a possible project in Vegas, and the holidays coming up."
The food at Mud Hen Tavern, which will be executed by chef and partner Kajsa Alger, will be more in line with a casual pub. "The menu is really unusual but also accessible," Feniger says. "We've always had a wood-burning oven, we've always done a pizza, so now we'll do more of them." Dishes she's excited about including pierogi, a chicken-and-waffle dish with spicy maple sauce, and whiskey-braised short ribs. There also will be a panini station.
But the component that has Feniger particularly excited is the beverage program, which has given her a new passion for beer and cocktails. "I want people to know that we're shifting a lot of focus to the drinks side of things," she says. Interesting draft and bottled beers and a robust cocktail program are in the works.
Mud Hen Tavern will open to the public on Dec. 7 at 4 p.m.
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