Much of the country may be under snow, but operators continue to heat up the industry with new restaurant openings. Here are five new additions worth tracking. (Spoiler alert: Salt Bae is plotting world domination.)
1. A pair of openings from MCO ThinkFoodGroup
Jose Andres’ multiconcept operation is like the Energizer Bunny of restaurant groups—it keeps going and going. Andres, owner and president of ThinkFoodGroup, has made headlines recently for feeding much of Puerto Rico following a devastating hurricane and feuding with President Trump. But he and his group are still continuing on the business side, too, with two new restaurants opening. The first is an expansion of the one-unit Zaytinya concept to Frisco, Texas. The restaurant features a Middle Eastern mezze-heavy menu and seating for 250. And slated to open next month is Somni. The high-end Los Angeles restaurant serves a 20-course modernist prix-fixe menu for $235 per person—not including beverages or tax.
2. Roman pizza continues to shine
There’s a new, high-profile entrant riding the recent wave of interest in Roman-style pizza. La Brea Bakery founder Nancy Silverton is one of the names behind the new Triple Beam Pizza in Los Angeles. The fast-casual spot’s pies are sold by weight, cut with scissors and served at room temperature.
3. Salt Bae aims his salt-slinging at burgers
Salt-slinging internet meme Salt Bae, aka Nusret Gökçe, who operates eatertainment steakhouses in New York and Miami, is now planning on launching a U.S. burger chain. The moderately priced full-service concept, simply called Salt Bae, is slated to open its first unit in a 4,000-square-foot space in Los Angeles this fall. New York City units are on tap after that.
4. Another ghost restaurant gives it a go
Delivery-only concepts have yet to crack a wholly successful business model, but that hasn’t stopped operators from giving them a go. The newest addition is Puritan Trading Co., a delivery-only offshoot of Boston’s Puritan & Co., a cafe known for New England-style fare. The delivery-only operation will focus on crispy chicken sandwiches, crab Rangoon, fried clams and udon noodles.
5. Reservations … at a food hall?
The latest addition to Mike Isabella’s Isabella Eatery Dining Hall bucks the casual, grab-and-eat food hall trend. The Washington, D.C., hall now accepts reservations for its 120-seat common area, which offers guests full service with a condensed menu from its concepts such as Italian stall Graffiato and tapas restaurant Arroz.
This week's head-spinning restaurant moments included a suggestion in court that the "b" in IHOb stood for "bad news for Applebee's." That's just one of the long-shot gambles that came to light as oddsmakers considered the likelihood of restaurants charging into sports betting and who'll win the chain vs. independent bout.