Loco’l Tackling Fast Food

Chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson are very close to launching Loco’l, a unique way of doing fast food that uses high-quality ingredients at low price points, and still pays workers a decent wage. Roy Choy states, “We’re not trying to be Fast Food Plus and that’s exactly why the cornerstone of Loco’l is that we want to make a 99 cent burger.” Tartine Bakery’s chef Chad Robertson has been brought on to the project by Roy and Daniel in order to craft a koji burger bun, and the chefs have a spot already in the San Francisco Tenderloin neighborhood. Loco’l is now focusing on raising more capital to cover the rest of the location’s build-out. Below are some of the values of Loco’l:

Loco’l is a team of innovative chefs.
Loco’l is locally sourced.
Loco’l is using quality ingredients.
Loco’l is providing fair wages.
Loco’l is leveraging state of the art technology.
Loco’l is community based.
Loco’l is crazy.

The campaign launched on Indiegogo has raised $12,000 so far of the $150,000 goal. To check out the Indiegogo campaign, click here.

Pies ‘N’ Thighs New Manhattan Location

The Brooklyn favorite Pies ‘N’ Thighs will be opening their first manhattan location today on the Lower East Side. Co-owners Sarah Sanneh and Carolyn Bane must be excited to have the gas turned on, Health Department inspection approved, and final touches finished for opening. The new 43 Canal St location has a lunch counter with retro stools as well as wooden booths and fun tiled floors. Fun fact: the retro stools at the lunch counter actually belonged to the original Pies ‘N’ Thighs on Kent Avenue that closed in 2008.

There will also be some new additions to the original menu. These additions include a cauliflower gratin, a chicken and dumplings soup, and a raw collard green salad with lime vinaigrette and smoked coconut. A new sourdough doughnut will also be introduced, which is promised by co-owner Sanneh to be the only thing of its kind in the city. Eventually there will also be some new sandwiches added to the menu. The usual menu suspects will of course be available, such as the fried chicken, biscuits and pies.

To read more coverage on the opening of the Manhattan Pies ‘N’ Thighs opening, click here

Wahlburgers Coming To NYC

Wahlburgers is a fast growing burger chain founded by actor Mark Wahlberg’s brother, Paul Wahlberg. It seems like soon the burger chain will have many more franchises and make its first appearance in New York. The family’s expansion plans were announced last month and included franchises in Florida, Vegas, Philadelphia, and Canada. No less than seven outposts were promised in New York City and the family is acting fast on this promise!

The Wahlberg brothers sold their franchise rights to John Cestare, of Big Apple Burgers, who will be overseeing all the new Wahlburger outposts in the city. The first of these outlets is aiming for a May 1st open in Coney Island. A great portion of the success and populariy of the Massachusetts outpost is in no doubt due to the A&E reality show filmed in and around the burger chain that documents all the Wahlberg family antics, but we hope they do just as well or better as the family takes the franchise nationwide!

To read more about the expansion of the Wahlburgers Boston Burger Restaurant, click here

Santina Opening Tonight Beneath High Line

The Torrisi team are at it again! Their new concept, Santina, evokes a very 1950’s Italian beach vibe as it is decorated with plenty of venetian glass chandeliers, palm trees and a vibrant neon signage. This past weekend the Torrisi team hosted a soft opening of sorts, for friends, family and members of the press. The opening of Santina to the public will be tonight and is already listed on OpenTable!

Santina will open at 820 Washington Street underneath the high line in the Meatpacking District. The restaurant will be serving a menu based on (but not bound to) traditional Italian coastal cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. According to Grubstreet, Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone and Jeff Zalaznick’s menu will not include a lot of red meat (one dry-aged T-bone steak will be on the menu), and will also include, amongst other dishes, chickpea flour pancakes, turkey meatballs, agrodolce-glazed octopus spiedini, and a Guanciale e Pepe Stir Fried Rice (yum, see photo here). The restaurant will be open for dinner Monday-Saturday from 5PM to Midnight.

For more photos of the space and more info on the opening, click here.

Rent Spike Forces Heartland Brewery To Close

It is sad to see such an integral part of the Union Square neighborhood closing. Heartland Brewery at 35 Union Square West opened in 1995, and as of yesterday was forced to close due to a large rent spike. Jon Bloostein also has four other brewery locations as well as Flatiron Hall, Houston Hall and Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in Times Square, but there is something about this specific closing that makes it eerie for the restaurant scene in Union Square; if a high-profit brewery with a large turnover can’t make it, does that mean all restaurants are doomed?

Danny Meyer, who will be closing the epic Union Square Cafe at the end of this year, wrote that the rent had tripled for the 6,600 sq ft space. Rumors are that the other high-volume touristy spot in Union Square, Blue Water Grill, may also be facing the same fate. As for the Heartland Brewery, Bloostein said the rent spiked to $2 million for the full space, meaning $450 per square foot. According to a real estate broker who focuses mainly on spaces for the hospitality industry, the average asking rents in the Flatiron/Union Square area are on average $275 per square foot. This creates a very tricky atmosphere for traditional restaurants.

To read more about the closing of the iconic Heartland Brewery in Union Square, click here

Blue Ribbon Empire Expansion

The former Sambuca restaurant at 20 West 72nd Street currently has a Tony’s Di Napoli’s sign outside the window apologizing for the ‘inconvenience during transformation.” Actually, it is not the Tony’s Di Napoli family style restaurant that will be occupying the space, it will belong to the Blue Ribbon Bromberg brothers, Eric and Bruce, with partner Ken Sturm (Iridium, Campeon). The crew inside are transforming the space into a new American restaurant called, The Ribbon.

The restaurant is due to open in late February 2015, and will be able to seat up to 200 guests. The interior design will have an ‘elegant industrial’ theme including a bar top converted from a Brooklyn factory floor. The menu, which will be quite broad, will include amongst other things a raw bar and rotisserie. Private dining will also be available with a room that can seat up to 12 guests. It has been over a year since the last addition to the Blue Ribbon Empire, and this one will certainly have a big impact in the neighborhood.

To read more, click here

Back Forty, Sad To See You Go

A rumor caught our attention yesterday that we wished weren’t true, but sadly it has been confirmed: Back Forty on Avenue B is closed. Peter Hoffman, chef and owner, confirmed that Sunday was the last day of operations for the farm-to-table restaurant in Alphabet City. The restaurant which opened seven years ago as mainly a burger joint made its name for sourcing responsibly and organically with a relaxed approach to the seasonal farm-to-table concept. Luckily, Back Forty’s sister restaurant, Back Forty West, is still open in SoHo at 70 Prince Street@Crosby, which used to be the home of Hoffman’s Savoy.

Back Forty West will be serving a Christmas Eve Dinner for $65 which includes one specialty cocktail. Check out the menu for the curried Christmas Eve Dinner:

  • tamarind chicken wings
  • crunchy cabbage and carrot salad with spices and pomegranate
  • squash coconut soup
  • potato and ricotta fritters
  • lamb curry
  • red lentil dal
  • brussel sprouts with turmeric and black mustard seeds
  • fragrant basmati pilaf
  • rugelach
  • winter citrus salad
  • fireplace cardamom crème brulees

For more information or to reserve a table, click here





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