Swift & Sons / Cold Storage restaurants
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Swift & Sons/Cold Storage

The two-headed restaurant
Where: Chicago

From co-branded QSRs to multilevel concepts with distinct spaces on every floor, restaurateurs have tried lots of tactics to appeal to all the different reasons consumers use restaurants. The goal: to avoid leaving any potential dollars on the table. Now some operators are putting a new spin on the idea, creating a separately branded concept within a concept to draw in more diners.

That’s what Swift & Sons (pictured above), a high-end steakhouse, did when it added the 60-seat raw bar and seafood-driven Cold Storage (pictured below) concept about two months after opening.

The dual restaurant is located on the first floor of Google’s new Chicago office building, with a captive audience of professionals working upstairs. “I think [our guests] are similar people who have different agendas on specific nights,” says Kevin Boehm, co-founder of Swift & Sons parent Boka Restaurant Group.

Key to the setup is the fact that customers enter through one door and begin their dining experience at one host stand. “The layout worked perfectly for both to coexist,” says Boehm. “Cold Storage has its own kitchen and infrastructure,” he adds. And the restaurants have separate staffs too, though there is some crossover, with some of Swift’s evening staff working days at Cold Storage.

For Boehm, the advantage is being able to show different ways of delivering hospitality, even in the same dining experience. As he explains it, guests can go into Cold Storage for a sundae after their steak dinner, for example, or hit the raw bar for a more casual appetizer as a group is converging. Unlike the secret basement restaurants or hidden speakeasies, another iteration of the trend, this two-in-one is upfront about its split personality. “I think the independent draw is important, but they also play nice in the sandbox together,” he says. 

“I think [our guests] are similar people who have different agendas on specific nights.” —Kevin Boehm, co-founder


More dual restaurants

  • The Tasty Dug-Out inside Ray’s Hell Burger, Washington, D.C.
  • Oddbird inside West Egg Cafe, Atlanta
  • Crab Cellar inside Oyster Bah, Chicago
  • Yet-to-be-named concept inside DanDan, Milwaukee
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