Most of your concepts are full service. Why did you choose fast casual for this restaurant?
Richards: We think dining is changing. There's been a shift, especially with certain external forces financially for the restaurant industry, to move in the direction of fast casual. Eric and I have been focused on what that means—where does that bring the industry? This is our response to that.
I feel like the dining room itself has a bit more of a dine-in vibe. People have been coming; they've been staying. It feels more like a full dining experience, but the actual business model is fast casual. We also have a large to-go component and delivery component that we're building into it.
What are some guest-favorite dishes, and how do they represent what you’re trying to do with your menu?
Richards: The Thai Chicken bowl is really flavorful, quick, and easy to eat. We find it to be appealing to everyone.
Marx: The TV Dinners like the macadamia-crusted fish sticks are pretty popular. They’re light and baked … reminds me of growing up. And our Den Mother, which is a vegan option, is really popular. It appeals to a vegan audience or anyone who wants a lighter salad or a bowl. Again, really flavorful with pomegranate, hummus, squash, cauliflower, and lentils.
Richards: The cabbage rolls, stuffed cabbage, is actually a very healthy option. It's stuffed with turkey and a bolognaise. Antoni, our other partner, is French-Polish, so that's a heritage item for him. The more multinational we get in our cuisine, the more we've discovered these familiar moments that are super healthy. Stuffed cabbage is like a meatloaf but for another community.
Marx: We're doing familiar food in a healthy way. We as a community and as a society are learning how to make better choices through food. We don't think that there’s any need to totally disregard these old concepts, recipes, or constructs. I think they’re great, but they might need to be redefined as society moves forward, concerning awareness of how our bodies work in reaction to food.
Tell me about a few of your design choices for the restaurant.
Marx: We were focused on creating a bright and airy space. We created this structure that hangs from the ceiling and, in it, there's all of these live plants. It kind of envelopes you like a canopy of a tree. Everything has this organic form to it, but then is also really structured in this grid pattern. We've been working toward that play of organic and structure … that constant tug and pull between creativity and science.