As summer turns to fall, operators are betting on a host of new concepts to bring them success in the first quarter.
From the first restaurant foray by a major grocery chain to a largely vegan Jewish deli, here are some of the new (and soon-to-open) concepts to watch.
1. Kroger trials a full-service restaurant
Grocery giant Kroger is the latest supermarket chain to make a play in the restaurant space. Kitchen 1883 (named after Kroger’s birth year) is slated to open in late October in Union, Ky., near the company’s headquarters in Cincinnati. The 90-seat restaurant will serve updated comfort foods, as well as craft cocktails. Later this year, Kroger will also open a “culinary innovation center” to develop prepared foods and, possibly, future restaurant concepts, a company spokeswoman said.
2. Veg-focused Jewish luncheonette
Two years after opening Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co., brother-sister team Will and Julie Horowitz have debuted a fast-casual spinoff. Harry & Ida’s Luncheonette serves Jewish comfort food—with a twist. The menu still has a pastrami sandwich, but there’s also vegetarian chopped liver (made with peas and walnuts) as well as customizable lunch plates with a choice of egg noodles or turnip noodles, pickled vegetables and proteins like coconut babaganoush and baked tofu, smoked maple salmon or smoked apricot chicken. The restaurant uses items like broccoli stems to reduce food waste and prepares most of the food for both restaurants in a central kitchen to save on labor and prep space.
3. Play catch at an expanding Middle Eastern concept
Sometimes, it’s all about the gimmick. San Francisco’s Flying Falafel started out at area farmers’ markets, opened a small restaurant and is now expanding to a larger brick-and-mortar location. The catch: Cooks throw balls of falafel in the air before catching them in pita bread and serving. The restaurant, which is entirely vegan, also serves hummus, dolma, nondairy cheesecake and banana milkshakes.
4. Midwest regional comfort food takes center stage
The menu at the new B’el Bar & Kitchen will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in the Midwest. It’s a greatest hits list of specialties from Minneapolis to Detroit to Cincinnati. There’s a Juicy Lucy Burger, a Coney dog, Cincinnati-style chili and even the open-faced horseshoe sandwich from Springfield, Ill. The Chicago-based concept comes from the team behind Reed’s Local, a dive bar near the restaurant.
5. Fresh pasta—overnighted from Italy
The latest entrant into the “fine-casual” space is Uovo, a pasta restaurant in Los Angeles that has gone to great lengths for its noodles. Uovo’s owners opened a commercial kitchen in Bologna, Italy, and hired a staff there to prepare mix, sheet and cut pasta using Italian eggs and other ingredients. The noodles are then overnighted to Uovo. The small, wood-paneled space has bar seating and a few tables.