Chef Richard Gunter Is Out at Quench

Owner Michael Holstein says he’s going forward with expansion plans.

Barstools at Quench, which opened in Rockville this spring. Photograph by Dakota Fine.

More change has come to Rockville cocktail concept Quench. Just two months out of the gate, and the strip mall spot has already parted ways with two of its “leaders.” Bar manager Steve Oshana was let go just a week after the May opening, and last week the restaurant bid adieu to executive chef Prentis Richard Gunter. Owner Michael Holstein says he has promoted sous chef Evan Griffin (Black’s Bar and Kitchen, Buck’s Fishing & Camping) to the position.

“No slight to Rich, but Evan’s vision was much more in line with what our customers want,” says Holstein. While the first-time restaurateur’s own vision at Quench is “to bring the urban experience to the suburbs,” this particular suburb has resisted menu items such as corned beef tongue, according to Holstein. Since the restaurant opened, he says he has been challenged to meet the divergent needs of “foodie people and office folk just looking for a burger.” To that end, Griffin has added a burger to the menu—a brisket-and-sirloin patty on a pretzel roll with cheddar cheese and a house sauce. Gunter’s Tongue and Cheek sandwich has been replaced with a “corned beef brisket” ’wich. Griffin also added salads and seasonal vegetable sides to the menu, which Holstein says guests were requesting.

Holstein has always planned to bring more Quenches to the Washington suburbs, and says a second location should be in the works by fall. Areas under consideration include Urbana and Merrifield in Maryland and Reston and McLean in Northern Virginia. He says he has been approached by a party interested in partnering on a DC Quench, but didn’t think the timing was right.

Gunter, meanwhile, says he’s relishing the opportunity to spend more time with his family and take a break from restaurant kitchens. The chef—who previously cooked at Buck’s, Charlie Palmer Steak, and Restaurant Eve—will continue to work with wife Rebecca Layton Gunter (yet another Buck’s alum) on her consulting and catering business operation: eatery. He’s also got a gig at Martha’s Table, helping the nonprofit expedite kitchen operations. And we may not have seen the last of that Tongue and Cheek sandwich—the chef says he hopes to open his own project down the road.

See Also:
Quench, an Ambitious Cocktail Bar and Restaurant, Gets Ready to Open in Rockville (Pictures)
Bartender Steve Oshana Resurfaces at BLT Steak
A Sneak Peek at the Cocktails and Dishes at Quench (Pictures)