Whether the mantra is to be chef-driven or locally sourced, today’s restaurants are quick to communicate their ethos and let guests know what they value. At Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin, Texas, the restaurant group proudly calls itself community-driven.
On Eighth Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, one wall stands out among the many gray skyscrapers and brick facades that are part of the landscape in this section of New York City. Temerario, Chelsea’s newest Mexican restaurant and the fifth concept from the Jorge Guzman Hospitality Group, stands out among the other buildings with its bright, street art–inspired mural painted on its exterior.
When the temperatures climb, diners’ desire for frozen drinks and icy cocktails goes up. The Fifty/50 Group, which operates six concepts in Chicago, is capitalizing on the summer season by crafting cocktails that play with the traditional frozen drink.
Put political buzz and party affiliation aside—this year the spotlight focuses on the top independent operators in state capitals throughout the U.S. As a starting point, FSR sought nominations from state and local restaurant associations.
When the weather’s nice, events at The Wine Studio, in Louisville, Kentucky, spill out into a 2,000-square-foot courtyard where diners can enjoy Chef Edward Lee’s Southern fare, which features luxurious French touches and surprising Korean accents.
Orchids at Palm Court used an unlikely source to track down restaurant artifacts from decades past. “We found menus and other stuff on eBay,” laughs Todd Kelly, executive chef at the fine-dining restaurant in Cincinnati.
Cody Taylor was dining in an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant when inspiration struck. “The idea for an unlimited prix fixe menu hit me,” he remembers, and in the next breath he asked himself: “Is this something we could pull off?” Taylor, owner of Café Josie, unveiled “The Experience,” an unlimited prix fixe menu, three weeks later.
Is bitter the new black? The Institute of Food Technologists has listed bitter flavors as one of its top five trends to watch in 2015. Just like the fashionable color showing up on the runway, bitter can be found on menus across the country with growing regularity.
Attribute it to the season, to social evolutions, to an increased awareness of health, nutrition, and lifestyle management—whatever the reason—food is top of mind. “Right now, in America, we’re at our greatest level of food consciousness,” says Maeve Webster, senior director at Datassential.
A D.C. chef and his wife are tackling addiction in the restaurant industry.In most businesses, having a drink after work may happen at an occasional happy hour, but for the most part revelry that includes alcohol is reserved for special occasions.
When Patrick Lee, owner and operator of the Grafton Group in Massachusetts, and his team of managers first dreamed up a tasting tour that would visit each of the group’s four properties, discussions persisted for months.
Personal touches in décor help guests identify with the culture behind the menu and inspire a deeper connection to the restaurant—that’s what restaurant operators who are serving international cuisine have discovered when they accessorize the restaurant with design elements from their home countries.
“There’s something so charming about something small,” says Jess Schmidt, general manager at Dominick’s, an Italian-American restaurant and martini bar in Los Angeles. Open since the late 1940s, Dominick’s serves small plates as part of its menu, but the charming small options Schmidt is referencing are part of The Littles, a collection of $4 mini martinis served in small glasses during happy hour.
LangbaanPortland, OregonThai comfort food crafted with no open-flame cooking; only ovens and induction burners.Opened ∕ March 2014Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 millionAverage Check ∕ $65 (without alcohol)Chef/Owner∕ Akkapong Earl NinsomThe Squeaky BeanDenverA pop culture–driven atmosphere grounded by a garden-inspired menu (produce is grown in the neighborhood) and creative cocktails defines The Squeaky Bean, where weekend bingo is a popular draw.