A new year always brings new restaurant openings, despite the weather and holiday distractions.
In January we saw some long-awaited concepts come to fruition, including the celebrated chef Daniel Rose’s Le Select in Chicago, a partnership with Boka Restaurant Group. A Chicago native, Rose is known for the Michelin-starred Le Coucou in New York, Café Basque in Los Angeles and the restaurant La Bourse et La Vie in Paris. Boka is the multiconcept powerhouse behind Girl & the Goat, Laser Wolf in Brookyn, N.Y., and Momotaro in Chicago, among others.
In Chicago, Cleveland chef Jonathan Sawyer has partnered with Fifty/50 Restaurant Group on the new Kindling, in the city’s iconic Willis Tower, which has undergone a $500 million renovation. This 17,000-square-foot, two-floor venue is opening in stages but will eventually be able to host some 500 guests. At the heart of the restaurant will be a hearth for wood-fire cooking.
In California, Toronto chef Sean MacDonald is opening his first U.S. concept with the tiny Bar Monette, a refined tapas bar with Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Up the coast in Oakland, Calif., Colombian restaurateur Paul Iglesias, known for Canela Bistro in San Francisco, has partnered with Washington, D.C.-based operator Kendrick Wu to open the new Parche, a concept designed to showcase authentic Colombian dishes and ingredients.
And in Houston, keep an eye on Sherman Yeung, who is opening his second restaurant with some alums from his first: Tobiuo Sushi Bar. At the new Money Cat, Yeung brings his Tobiuo pastry chef Jiolo “Jio” Dingayan to the role of chef de cuisine.
According to press materials, Dingayan is only 22-years old, and staged at the very high-end n/soto in Los Angeles. The two have created a menu at Money Cat designed to tap flavors familiar to first- and second-generation Asian Americans, who bring a more blurred perspective on what is authentic.
In New York City, former Momofuku chef William Djuric is tapping his roots to create the new Balkan StrEAT in partnership with Jason Correa, formerly of Tao Group. Expect to see the Balkan regional twist on kebabs, burgers and handhelds like phyllo dough savory pies, as well as the doughnut-like pastries called krofne.
Unfortunately, the end of a calendar year also brings restaurant closures, and there were too many to list. Bluestem in San Francisco will no doubt be missed.
But it sounds like Matia Kitchen & Bar, on Orcas Island—one of the San Juan Islands north of Puget Sound in Washington state—has closed with current investors but will reopen in the region as something new. Stay tuned.
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