By Micha Green
Just a couple years ago restaurant industry veterans Monique Rose and Chef Sammy Davis were on the verge of homelessness; now they have $12 million of revenue- last counted. Since starting they’re Milk & Honey concept in Beltsville, Md. in 2016, the two have blossomed into restauranteurs with several locations and are now major stakeholders in the D.M.V.’s restaurant industry.
The Bar @ Milk & Honey is the partner’s fourth restaurant in the D.M.V. region, first with a full bar- hence the name- and is currently their only D.C. location. Although the partners have only been in the D.M.V. region with their Milk & Honey restaurants for the past three years, the dynamic duo have been laying the groundwork for the trendy, treasured and savory daily brunch spot that keeps patrons coming time and time again.
“Milk and Honey actually originated over 10 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia with Chef Sammy Davis, and ended due to a bad partnership at the time,” Rose told the AFRO at The Bar @ Milk & Honey.
“Sammy said, ‘Why don’t we do a Milk & Honey again?’ So we thought we were just opening some little small breakfast place in Beltsville. It was probably 45 seats in there, and it just did amazingly well. We got a huge response and overwhelming support from people, and it just went crazy on social media, people were taking pictures, and we just blew up from there.”
The journey of opening several restaurants around the D.M.V. started out of necessity.
“When we moved out of there, I think we were at like five hour waits. And people were waiting for the food, which we didn’t want people waiting that long. So we moved to a larger location in College Park, right down the street from Beltsville, near the Ikea. We also almost simultaneously opened Bowie a week apart. Not on purpose, but it just happened that way,” Rose explained.
“And then we opened Catch 22 in November last year, here at the location of where The Bar at Milk & Honey is. Originally we were looking at another space that was about two miles down the road for Milk & Honey, hence the Catch 22.” When that deal didn’t go through, Catch 22 was reworked into The Bar @ Milk & Honey.
“And because so many people came to Catch, knowing that we owned it, and it was ‘Milk & Honey Presents,’ they were asking for Milk & Honey, so we just said, we’ll kind of a do a fusion of the two,” Rose said. “We kept the top 3 selling items from the Catch menu, which are the deep fried crab legs, the lamb chop, and the whole red snapper. So it was a perfect marriage.”
The Bar @ Milk & Honey is true to Rose and Davis’ reliable brand of delicious, simple food, done well.
“We took 10 items that we do very well and we did it better than anybody. We didn’t try to do everything for everybody. We are very clear about who our demographic is, who wants to eat our food. And those are the people that we target and we focus on,” Rose told the AFRO.
“When you try to be everything to everyone is when you lose. That’s when things kind of go the wrong way, and I think that’s where people go wrong,” Rose said. “So I think that’s what separates us, and the fact that we are consistently committed to providing great food. We very rarely have food complaints, and we take pride in that. And that’s because we use great products, and we do those 10 things over and over better than anybody,” Rose added confidently.
Davis, also known as “Chef Sammy,” said it’s the simplicity, yet rich, memorable flavors in the food that makes it so incredibly tasty.
“The food was just born out of some dishes. I had tasted other people’s dishes, and I was like, ‘Well, if I did it, I would do it like this.’ And I used to always hear people talk about, ‘shrimp and grits, shrimp and grits, shrimp and grits,’ but every time I tasted somebody’s shrimp and grits, they always put like the peppers and stuff in it, and it tasted funny. I don’t like that taste. So I was like, ’Let’s do just a straight, shrimp and grits flavor and it was born out of that.” “Chef Sammy’s Award-Winning Shrimp & Grits,” are one of the most popular items on the menu.
The “Blackened Salmon & Grits,” another favorite, which is served over creamed spinach, cheesy grits and with Milk & Honey’s Cajun cream sauce. The dish blends beautifully and creates a titillating experience for both the taste buds and nostrils.
Some of the dishes, such as the French toast, came from people like Rose and celebrities urging Davis to prepare their own favorites. “The French toast came out of making it for Jazzy Pha. He was like, ‘That was the best French toast ever,’ so we kept the French toast.”
This reporter loved the Belgian Waffles strawberry shortcake- it was like pleasant biscuits, toasted all the while soft, both sweet and savory, mixed with a beachside funnel cake, and somehow the comfort of grandma’s kitchen all at once.
Davis added that he and Rose’s travels have inspired some of the other dishes, such as the Caribbean Whole Fried Snapper, which is a combination of crispiness and just enough spices and salt, with Milk & Honey’s, “Award-Winning Sauce.”
The Bar @ Milk & Honey is reliably good and can appeal to the taste buds of anybody who has an appreciation for delicious food served in an accessible, welcoming, and unpretentious way. Rose and Davis have already created buzz and excitement in the neighborhood, per the constant traffic seen going in and out of the establishment on a Thursday afternoon. The two are excited to bring food that will appeal to the evolving demographics in the Brightwood neighborhood.
The Bar @ Milk & Honey is located at 5832 Georgia Avenue N.W. and is open Tuesday-Sunday. For more information visit https://www.milknhoneycafe.com/location/washington-dc/.
This article originally appeared in The Afro.