It’s an exciting time to be part of the restaurant industry. With more new restaurants opening and a number of locally based group expanding, there’s much optimism in the air. New operators still need to exercise caution and plan their restaurants with a conservative and calculated approach, but in general the economic outlook for those hoping to realize their restaurant dreams is good. We are even seeing some local banks keen to lend to restaurants having finally been convinced that successful local operators are creating successful local business.
A couple of my favorites this month are Bevy and Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room. Both located within the SALT project in Kakaako, and both serving up unique food and beverage options.
Bevy, operated by Christian Self has quickly become the quintessential neighborhood bar. Anchoring the SALT project from Auahi St, Bevy attracts those in search of thoughtful cocktails, local ingredients and a menu that’s simple and in perfect taste. Self, one of the leading bartenders in town, has long since been regarded as someone with great insight into the world of cocktailing –and the ability to create an outstanding, clever menu (who could resist the Mai Thai – a blend of Bacardi 8, curacao, falernum, lemongrass, line and candied ginger foam) featuring food that pairs exceedingly well with craft cocktails. There are those of us who believe that Bevy’s oysters (half shell, mignotte), for example, are the finest in town.
Expanding into the neighboring space formerly occupied by Cucina (who moved to Chinatown) Bevy will open this fall with a market designed to accommodate grab and go customers as well as those looking for an alternative to lunch. Picnic menus will be a feature – look for Bevy to create some of the coolest grab and go lunches in town.
Village Beer and Bottle Shop
Quietly opening at the end of August Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room , owned by beer enthusiast and expert Tim Golden and his partner Daryn Ogino of Pint and Jigger fame, Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room has already made an impact in the market. Just around the corner from Bevy, in the new SALT project Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room offers a cool, contemporary dining room with a beer retail section featuring rotating craft beers. ‘We like to call it a beer cafe, says Tim Golden. “it’s not a gastropub, it’s not a restaurant, it’s like a coffee shop without the coffee.” Instead you can choose from more than 450 beers, a selection of them on. There’s no restaurant mark up on the beers and customers can purchase them and then drink them in the café.
“The goal is to broaden people’s horizon’s on beer and to carry the best variety of quality beers we can,” says Golden, who stresses that while 450 beers may seem a lot, the store won’t carry anything that isn’t of outstanding quality. Golden and Ogino have identified a niche and built an environment where everyone from the beer novice to the beer aficionado can feel at home.
Beers in the coolers are arranged by flavor profile rather than brand making it easy to peruse the refrigerated show cases – much like wine and there is always someone to ask for advice before you buy. One of the easiest ways to educate your own palate is to try some of the beers on tap before buying the bottles to take home.
“We’re trying to help the consumer navigate the beer aisles” says Golden. “Beer is by far the most complicated and complex alcoholic beverage – it can go from something as light as a pilsner to beers that are barrel aged with fruit or with cinnamon or have all kinds of things added to them. It can get really confusing.”
The atmosphere is warm, welcoming, casual and will definitely offer much to those looking for a place to open up laptops and start working – but prefer a glass of beer instead of coffee as they work. “In Europe you can go into a café and get a beer, enjoy it for 20 minutes and move on with your day – we encourage people to do the same.” We want it to be a gathering place for all kinds of people and reasons,” says Golden “and that’s why there’s a gigantic communal table in the middle of the room…. we want to encourage everyone to come and enjoy.”
Brand new ideas being transformed into brick and mortar restaurants – and all happening in a neighborhood near you. Truly an exciting time to be in the restaurant industry.