The latest roundup of concepts we’re watching has a bit of everything: From a high-end French bistro that booked two months of tables in a day, to health-centered quick-service spots, to a newcomer offering multi-course dessert menus, it’s clear that fast-casual may be dominating but hasn’t totally cornered the growth market. Here’s a look at what’s on our must-watch list now:
1. Bellecour; Wayzata, Minn.
Chef Gavin Kaysen’s new French bistro booked 1,125 reservations in 24 hours—before it had even opened. Kaysen, a James Beard winner and owner of well-reviewed Minneapolis modern-American restaurant Spoon and Stable, told Eater that Bellecour booked two months of reservations on its first day accepting them. So, why all the fuss? Celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern (who has business ties with Kaysen) posted a rave early review of Bellecour. But Kaysen’s reputation alone is enough to drive excitement for the concept in Wayzata, a tony suburb just outside of his hometown of Minneapolis. The restaurant features a bar and lounge, main dining room and an adjacent grab-and-go bakery that stocks pastries, sandwiches and breads.
2. Mad Greens; Louisville, Colo.
This salad-slinging quick-serve isn’t a new concept. But the Denver-based chain, which was founded in 2004 and has 31 units in four states, just opened its first drive-thru. New units will also feature drive-thrus, according to Eater Denver, to better serve moms with kids in the back seat as well as workers on quick lunch breaks. The chain, which also has dine-in seating, features customizable salads with housemade dressings as well as paninis and juices.
3. The Ruin Daily, Chicago
Chicago restaurant group 16” on Center (Revival Food Hall, Longman & Eagle, Dusek’s) launched its latest concept, a boozy deli that offers dine-in and grab-and-go breakfast, lunch and after-work items. The Ruin Daily (which is located in Chicago’s business-heavy Loop neighborhood) takes its name from President Martin Van Buren's derisive nickname “Marty Van Ruin,” according to DNAinfo Chicago. The bright, airy space, near several public-transit stations, sells coffee, smoothies, a rotating selection of 10 sandwiches during lunch and shareable plates for after work. Pastries are provided by James Beard winner Mindy Segal, who also serves her locally renowned desserts at Revival. The “day bar” serves cocktails, beer and wine from 3 p.m. until close.
4. Leynia, Miami
This Argentine-Japanese fusion FSR at Miami’s Delano Hotel is most notable for its mode of service: Food and drink are brought to the table via hand-painted bicycles imported from Argentina. The concept is centered around meats cooked over a wood-fired grill. The menu also includes empanadas and sushi rolls. Many dishes are served family-style. The concept includes a large outdoor area and bar near the wood-fired grill, to fuel a little bit of the eatertainment vibe.
5. Dr Smood, New York City
This health-focused LSR, which bills itself as an “organic boutique cafe,” opened a unit in New York City. It’s the concept’s first location outside of Miami. Dr Smood (a mashup of “smart” and “food”) features food with color-coded labels calling out more holistic health benefits like immunity boosting, energy promotion and detoxifying. The concept features grab-and-go juices, salads and sandwiches, and it offers dine-in seating as well.
6. Bonhomie; Austin, Texas
Heralded by Eater as one of Austin’s most-anticipated restaurant openings of 2017, this sleek and shiny concept provides an updated take on the American diner, with a French bistro twist. The restaurant, which has outdoor seating, features red leather booths and banquettes, black wood accents and an open kitchen inside. The menu includes Asian-inspired touches like brisket croissants with pho jus dip.
7. Patisserie Chanson, New York City
The multi-format operation offers daytime breads, pastries, sandwiches, salads and soups on the ground level, along with afternoon tea service. There’s booth and bar seating in the brick-lined lounge downstairs, where pastry chef Rory Macdonald serves multi-course dessert tasting menus.