Thousands of food industry folks are headed to Chicago this weekend for the annual National Restaurant Association Show. Meanwhile, enterprising operators from around the country continue to launch new restaurants.
From a celebrity chef-helmed food hall and the revamped Grill at the Four Seasons to a couple of mac and cheese fast casuals and a delivery-only cauliflower-crust-pizza concept with a saucy name, here are the newly opened spots we’re tracking.
1. Celeb chef launches food hall brand
One of the newest entrants into the crowded food hall arena comes from James Beard winning multiconcept operator Michael Mina. The Street, A Michael Mina Social House features 13 different concepts designed to look like they’re part of a neighborhood. The 6,900-square-foot Honolulu food hall includes Italian, poke, coffee, burger and shaved ice concepts, among others. Mina is slated to open another The Street food hall next year in Los Angeles.
2. Michael Symon takes on Sunday Suppers
Celebrity chef Michael Symon (one of the hosts on ABC-TV’s “The Chew”) named this new Italian offering, Angeline, after his mother. Symon’s latest restaurant, another in the round of high-profile hotel-based dining options, is located in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The menu focuses on Italian-American classics like lasagna, spaghetti and a family-style “Sunday” supper that’s available every day. The 223-seat space was designed by Symon’s wife, Liz, who has designed all 21 of their concepts.
3. 57-year-old dining icon gets a reboot
Major Food Group has revamped the famed former Grill Room at the Four Seasons Restaurant into the modernized concept The Grill. The luxurious space will be joined by the redone former Pool Room (now known as The Pool) later this year. The new space offers many classic touches, like duck pressed tableside, prime rib trolleys and flambeed desserts.
4. Mac & cheese goes DIY
Summer is typically a time when diners turn to lighter fare. But two new mac and cheese concepts are betting that consumers’ quest for indulgent options never wanes. First up is Grate Mac & Cheese, which is on tap to open later this summer in Menomonee Falls, Wis., according to the Milwaukee Business Journal. The new concept is run by Roaring Fork Restaurant Group, a 54-unit franchisee of the Qdoba fast-casual chain. Grate’s menu will include about a dozen macaroni and cheese entrees, all featuring Wisconsin dairy products.
In Chicago, mac and cheese is fully customizable and sold by the pound at (pickup and delivery-only) Midnight Mac and Cheeserie. Diners can top elbow noodles with a variety of cheese sauces, as well as three dozen other toppings such as vegetables and assorted proteins.
5. Vegas cools off with customizable soda drinks
Remember when you’d go to the soda dispenser as a kid and put a bunch of flavors into your cup? Pop Drinks, a new drive-thru in Las Vegas, re-creates that experience with custom soda combos. Customers choose a soda, flavor shot and purees. The quick-service spot also serves movie-style popcorn and pink-frosted sugar cookies.
6. Delivery-only & paleo-friendly concept from industry vet
Here’s another delivery-only concept, this one from former Shake Shack GM Dan Tavan. Boston-based True Taste Seasonal Kitchen is gluten-free and caters to those following paleo or Whole30 diets with bowl offerings, vegetable sides and “dessert bites,” Eater reports. Ordering is available through the restaurant’s website, with delivery from third parties.
7. Chocolate-hazelnut spread gets its own cafe
Nutella Bar, a two-level cafe scheduled to open later this month in Chicago, is owned by Ferrero USA, the company behind the chocolate-hazelnut spread. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Offerings include crepes, panini and family-style fondue.
8. Neighborhood eatery goes French bistro
Chefs Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone are behind the reconcepting of 10-year-old Grand Cafe in Minneapolis. Anderson, formerly of Nashville’s well-reviewed Catbird Seat, and Malone, one of “Food and Wine’s” best new chefs in 2013, will move from a seasonal neighborhood bistro to focus on modernized French classics. The space has been refreshed with mint green and rose tones, Eater reports.
9. Hot Nashville chef makes fast-casual debut
Yet another well-known chef makes a fast-casual foray with this new concept that features topped toasts, grain bowls, salads, rotisserie chicken, pastries, cocktails and wines. Miranda Pontes, the chef behind Nashville restaurants like Frothy Monkey, Burger Up and Josephine, launched the concept with her newly formed Gather Hospitality Group. Lulu serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers dine-in, carryout, delivery and a walk-up window.
10. Pizza gets a health makeover
Add another concept to the ranks of delivery-only pizza joints—but this one’s a little different. Los Angeles’ Skinny Bitch relies on third-party delivery companies to bring its $27 gluten-free cauliflower-crust pies to its customers. The pizzas come in bright pink boxes emblazoned with lipstick-red lips. Skinny Bitch also offers kombucha, says Eater. (But you probably guessed that already, right?)