Food truck chef swoops in on the Hey Hey
The Hey Hey Bar & Grill is going from the Coop to Swoop.
Matt Heaggans, who operates the Swoop food truck, has taken over the kitchen at the Merion Village tavern, 361 E. Whittier St.
Every evening Thursday through Saturday, Hey Hey patrons can get a taste of moderately priced, chef-driven contemporary bar food.
That includes crispy chicken wings with apple cider glaze and homemade togarashi sauce, confit of Yukon gold potatoes with creme fraiche, scallions, parmesan and bacon dust, and house-made pimento cheese spread with toasted bread.
The yak burger, which has become a staple of the Hey Hey, will be served in a traditional and updated format called the "Yak attack" -- a double burger with cheese and garnishes served on homemade brioche made locally by Matt Swint of the defunct Perzoot food truck who also makes the focaccia.
There's also a yak meatball, served with grits and eggplant caponata. Sauerkraut balls, another specialty of owner Sue Gall, will be left alone.
Most prices are in the $6 to $12 range, Heaggans said.
He said the tavern's bill of fare is completely different from Swoop.
"There is absolutely no crossover," he said. "We didn't want the same product offering."
Heaggans, whose company also owns the Crepes-a-la-Carte and PRESS food trucks, replaces Angie Theado, who ran the kitchen in the Hey Hey for about six months.
Theado recently left to continue with her food-truck enterprise, the Coop, and launch a new business venture in Clintonville.
Heaggans said he met with Gall and her daughter, Maggie, to hammer out a food strategy that fit both Swoop and the Hey Hey.
"We got a pretty good feel for the soul of the place," Heaggans said.
"We wanted to make food that spoke to that while staying true to our mission, which is doing everything by hand," he said.
"We're using a lot of fine-dining techniques but we're applying them to food that's familiar with everyday customers."
He said he hopes to soon offer brunch on Sunday and expand to other days of the week at the Hey Hey.
Gall said she had toyed with the idea of hiring a permanent chef, but wasn't ready to commit to a full-service business model just yet.
When she tried Swoop's food, she thought it would be a good fit at the Hey Hey.
"I guess they call that 'gastro pub' (fare) now," she said. "It's not just bar food, the frozen stuff they put in a deep-fryer. It's real homemade goodness."