Established Dogpatch dining destination Serpentine will close for a remodel starting August 1, reopening on September 6. When it returns, expect an expanded bar, a more open kitchen, more windows, and a revamped, Southern-inflected menu from new chef/owner Tommy Halvorson. With experience at Chez Panisse, Bix, and Gary Danko, Halvorson took over the restaurant from owner Erin Rooney in December, and while he wants to keep the spirit of Serpentine alive, he also hopes to “leave some fingerprints” on the place, too.
After ten years in business, diners are attached to the Serpentine they know. So is Halvorson, who has been hanging out in the neighborhood since 2008, where his catering company, Foxtail, is based. “People want to see a refresh, but not an overhaul,” the chef says. “The challenge is how to make it different and also keep it the same,” he says. “I don’t just want to be the steward of this great place that Erin [Rooney] built.”
That’s what Halverson has been, more or less, since taking over: Running things as they are and choosing the summer, when business typically slows, to close for changes. In the high-ceilinged space, built as a boiler room at a tin can factory, he’ll open up the kitchen to view, move both bathrooms to the back, and expand the bar area with six more seats. For the bar area, Halvorson enlisted design firm [RE] Union Creative, co-owned by a longtime Serpentine Employee. Dogpatch manufacturer Oberon Design will build the new bar itself.
Halvorson will also knock down large brick pillars and put in windows facing the street, a major change that reflects the shifting neighborhood. “Back in the day, [Serpentine] was more of a speakeasy or oasis,” he says, but now, with more businesses on Third Street, people want to see and be seen.
Testing the waters for the new menu, Halvorson has already started to introduce Southern-influenced items at Serpentine like Nashville hot chicken. He cooks his version in a buttermilk sous vide before it’s fried and tossed with chili, vinegar, and honey. The chef also hopes diners will see familiar faces at the restaurant when it returns. “A big part of Serpentine is the people that work there,” he says. To retain as much of the current staff as possible, he’s offered them temporary work at his catering company during the closure.