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Ted’s Bulletin’s new owner has big changes in store

&pizza co-founder Steve Salis has launched a bakery-focused concept within the Washington, D.C.-based all-day breakfast chain.
Photographs by Rey Lopez, courtesy of Ted's Bulletin

How do you take over a well-loved restaurant brand and reimagine it for a wider audience?

That’s what Steve Salis is trying to find out. Salis, a co-founder of &pizza, acquired Washington, D.C.-based all-day diner chain Ted’s Bulletin in 2017.

He recently opened the concept’s sixth location, a 2.0 prototype that includes a bakery-cafe concept, a more prominent bar area, a private dining area and an overall shift from ’20s and ’30s decor to more of a midcentury modern feel.

“We bought a brand that, for all intents and purposes, was very beloved,” Salis said. “It was pretty static and had stalled a bit. We’re focusing on tightening up the screws while building a prototype of where we felt the brand needs to go.”

The latest location, a 4,500-square foot space in a mall redevelopment in Arlington, Va., features the aptly named, 400-square-foot Sidekick. That concept, which has its own entrance, is Salis’ way of transforming Ted’s Bulletin’s underutilized bakery into a separate entity.

ted's bulletin

Photographs by Rey Lopez, courtesy of Ted's Bulletin

“We decided to build a brand around it with the notion of thinking it can be something to scale,” he said. “It can be a store within a store. … (Or) we feel that Sidekick has the potential to be splintered off and be a real vibrant brand on its on its own merits. … We built the business with the intention to scale it.”

The company brought in pastry chef Vincent Griffith from Chicago to create a whimsical yet refined menu of pastries and other items such as a Frostee and Fries croissant and a savory Reuben variety as well as slider-sized breakfast sandwiches. Sidekick also features Snowdays: housemade soft-serve ice cream blended with mix-ins.

The bakery has 24 seats and its kitchen operates without a venting system, making it well-suited for expansion, Salis noted.

“The usability of Ted’s, based on its current merits—there was less frequency than I would like to see,” Salis said. “The way people were using us was very rigid. The new concept design creates more dynamism.”

He’s already seeing diners stop at Sidekick for a morning coffee and pastry and then visit Ted’s Bulletin for dinner.

“The perfect consumer for us is somebody that can spend four to five incidences with us in any given week,” he said.

In addition to Sidekick, the revamped Ted’s Bulletin includes a wraparound bar space as well as a flexible private dining area. Since the new location opened earlier this month, alcohol sales have grown to more than 20% of total sales, up from 10% previously, Salis said. The outdoor space has also been revamped to make it more inviting, he said.

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