Niche Food Group, a Midwest restaurant group from James Beard Award winning Chef Gerard Craft, names Ryan Hux as chief operating officer of Porano Pasta, the fast casual concept with highly customizable pasta bowls, grain bowls, salads, and Detroit-style pizzas, opening in Des Peres, MO this spring (13323 Manchester Rd). As a 15-year restaurant veteran, Hux has spent his career working with acclaimed national fast-casual brands, such as Shake Shack and Raising Cane’s. Hux is Porano’s first leadership hire, and he will bring his industry experience to support strategic growth initiatives for Porano Pasta. Craft announced plans to reintroduce Porano Pasta in the spring of 2023. The lauded concept operated in downtown St. Louis from 2016 to 2018, and Craft plans to reignite the concept with new learnings and leadership from Hux.
Craft states, “We are bringing back Porano with expansion in mind. Ryan’s extensive experience opening fast-casual restaurants and his people-focused leadership style make him the perfect fit for what we’re hoping to accomplish.”
Before joining the Niche Food Group team, Hux worked for Shake Shack for 10 years under the Union Square Hospitality Group and restaurateur Danny Meyer. While there, he saw the restaurant group expand from 12 total locations to become a publicly traded company with over 400 restaurants and played a strategic role in opening all three Shake Shack locations in St. Louis. With this experience, he brings a unique perspective on offering quality food at a high volume. As COO, Hux will use his knowledge in operational efficiency to establish the concept. A longtime fan of Niche Food Group’s restaurants, Hux’s ability to lead people within the fast-casual realm and spearhead a restaurant opening will serve in developing the Porano brand.
“Funny enough, when Porano closed its original location a few years ago, I told Gerard that I would be ready to help him reopen it when he was ready. Fast forward five years and here we are,” says Hux. “Niche Food Group’s core values as a restaurant group are based on the idea of building a legacy by extending hospitality to everyone and being able to bring this vision to a fast-casual concept is truly a privilege.”
Before starting his career in the restaurant industry, Hux studied music education. Like in music, he enjoys the performance aspect of working in hospitality and loves being on a team of people from diverse backgrounds to provide best-in-class hospitality for restaurant goers.
Niche Food Group plans to open the first new location of Porano in Des Peres in spring of 2024 with plans for a total of three locations in the coming years.