It’s going to be a busy Saturday for Settle Down Easy Brewing. In addition to marking its fourth anniversary, the Merrifield area brewery will throw a grand opening party for its new Oakton restaurant and bar from noon to 8 p.m.
Replacing the shuttered Austins Big and Tall store in Hunter Mill Plaza at 2952E Chain Bridge Road, The Oakton Tasting Room is envisioned as not just a place to grab dinner and drinks, but as the kind of hangout spot that Settle Down Easy owner Frank Kuhns says is missing from Oakton — despite nearly 37,o00 people calling it home.
“In Oakton, there’s one zip code — 22184 — and we are going to promote that and the level of how proud you are to be a resident of Oakton,” Kuhns told FFXnow. “We’re going to create this family-friendly, energetic, exciting space for the residents of Oakton, but everyone is welcome of course. We want Oakton to have its own special place to call its own.”
A resident of Oakton himself, Kuhns started looking to expand Settle Down Easy at his wife’s suggestion. As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased, the couple was looking to go out for wine and appetizers but noticed a dearth of happy hour options in the area compared to nearby Vienna and Fairfax.
They hope The Oakton Tasting Room will fill that void, with a still-casual yet more refined ambiance than the industrial feel of Settle Down’s existing brewery at 2822 Fallfax Drive.
Opened in 2018, the Merrifield location serves food from a taco stand run by El Tio Tex-Mex Grill, but it primarily focuses on brewing, manufacturing five barrels of craft beer at a time to serve at a 40-seat bar.
The Oakton Tasting Room will be as much a restaurant as a brewery. Along with beer, it will offer wine, cider, and food for both lunch and dinner in a collaboration with local farmer’s market staple, The Fermented Pig, whose handcrafted meats and charcuterie boards made an impression at earlier events with Settle Down Easy.
An official menu isn’t available online yet, since it will likely evolve as the restaurant figures out what works and what doesn’t. However, all ingredients will be sourced from farms within a 100-mile radius, according to Kuhns.
“We want to be hypersensitive to our carbon footprint, we want to respectful to the environment, and we want to provide something to support other local businesses within 75 to 100 miles of our Oakton Tasting Room,” he said.
At nearly 4,000 square feet in size, the tasting room has the capacity for 150 customers. While there’s no outdoor seating at the moment, Kuhns says they hope to work with their landlord to add that next summer.
Nods to Oakton will range from black-and-white photos in the bathrooms showing the area’s history to a beer exclusively available at the tasting room called 123, after Route 123. Settle Down already serves a 2 Cloud 9 beer in Merrifield, reflecting its location near Route 29.
Expected to draw a sizable crowd, The Oakton Tasting Room’s grand opening will include a ribbon-cutting, cake at 3 p.m., and surveys of food and drink offerings. Merrifield patrons can get in on the excitement too: the first 50 customers who get a beer at both locations that day will receive a free gift and a commemorative coaster.
After inflation, supply chain issues and increased personnel expenses doubled the cost of the Oakton buildout from what was planned, Settle Down has no immediate plans to expand further, but the team is considering ways to help its Merrifield location stand out.
“I think probably in early 2024, we will look for the next venture for Settle Down Easy,” Kuhns said. “…That could be us doing a manufacturing warehouse. That could be a collaborative partnership with The Fermented Pig. We don’t know yet, but I know we want to continue to grow, so our plan in the next two years is to have more growth for our business in Virginia.”
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