It was 11 a.m. Sunday and Riverhead Project owner Dennis McDermott was manning the bar with a smile that faded immediately when a staffer ran from the kitchen and asked where the fire extinguisher was.
“We usually have popcorn,” Mr. McDermott said two minutes later as he returned to the bar, his smile back in full force. “But that’s what caught on fire, the popcorn machine. I just threw it out the back door.”
That’s how Mr. McDermott is, fierce, friendly and not above tossing the popcorn machine out the door to save his kitchen.
It was the second Sunday of one of the East Main Street restaurant’s ever-multiplying “projects.”
This one, appropriately named the “Hangover Brunch,” is marketed for the weekend warriors; the party animals; the up-all-nighters — and executive chef Greg Ling said industry folk are infamous members of those groups.
“People in the restaurant industry are known to go out and drink after work, so when Dennis was developing the menu for this, he came to us and asked what we would want to eat if we didn’t want to cook,” Chef Ling said. “And there you have it.”
The menu, which includes food items like a fifty cent hard boiled egg or cold pizza on a plate for $1.50, is aimed for those who wake up in the morning and just want to eat something easy — anything, Mr. McDermott said. It includes a drink menu that’s perfect for those jittery patrons in search of a little hair of the dog, as they say.
The beermosa, Mr. McDermott’s favorite drink on the menu, is a mix of Pabst Blue Ribbon and orange juice, and though it sounds more like something one might drink at the end of a party, he and chef Ling said they’re surprisingly refreshing.
“Beermosas are delicious,” Chef Ling said. “Not that I’d know.”
The hangover brunch is one of the Riverhead project’s many ventures, the most recent in a chain of promotions, regular events and fundraisers that includes theWINEPROJECT, theHOMOPROJECT, theCHEFPROJECT and theBOOKPROJECT, a meeting group that hopes to become a model for book clubs to come.
“We’re all about providing a nice, encouraging atmosphere, where people feel comfortable enough to come alone to a place where they don’t know anyone and enjoy themselves, even if they haven’t read the book,” said the book club’s co-creator Yvonne Lieblein, adding that Mr. McDermott has been incredibly accommodating, not only providing space in his restaurant for the free monthly meetings, but complimentary hors d’ouevres.”
As for brunch, The Riverhead Project had already been opened for Sunday brunches, and still offers a more traditional brunch menu that includes omelets, a burger, a soft-shell crab sandwich and more.
The “hangover” folks can only indulge at the bar.
“I developed the ‘Hangover Brunch’ because I wanted to drive some business to the bar,” Mr. McDermott said. “I found that on Sundays, the bar isn’t necessarily busy. And maybe it shouldn’t be. But as I develop my business, I notice where there are areas for growth and try to come up with new ideas just to keep things interesting.”