A new lunch and take-out focused restaurant opening in Greenwich Village plans to only serve its meals in one form — a jar. Ancolie, to open this fall at 58 West 8th St., won't be using the mason jars that have become the Pinterest-friendly way to bring lunch to work. Owner and chef Chloe Vichot designed custom jars for the restaurant, and she has already raised more than double her $20,000 goal on Kickstarter to help fund the manufacturing. They're bigger, stackable, sealable, washable, heatable, and based on extensive research on what would make the best food container, she says. "Everybody was getting crazy last year about bringing their lunch in a mason jar," she says. "But you can’t eat out if directly. We really designed [this jar] so that it’s wide enough to eat directly out of."
Vichot initially started the project because she loves the restaurant business and was done with the financial industry, where she worked for a decade. She wanted a casual and lunch-focused spot after never finding the warm, quick options that she ate while growing up in France. The idea of using jars only came into play when she looked at the amount of waste that comes with takeout. "I was a little bit shocked by the amount of trash that comes with a regular sandwich compared to what I got in France growing up," she says. Besides serving meals only in jars, Ancolie will not offer plastic bags, and people who want to buy coffee with a disposable cup will be charged extra. "A lot of people are tired of wasting packaging and throwing away trash with their lunch," Vichot says. "People are trying to make a difference."
Ancolie will offer warm dishes like lasagna, chicken tikka with zucchini, and beef short rib shepherd pie behind the counter, while cold dishes like salads poached salmon salad and pesto pasta salad will be available from a fridge in front. Sides include tabouleh and lentils and carrots, and dessert and breakfast options include chocolate cake and chia pudding. People can keep the jars to reuse themselves, but diners who bring back the jars will receive a free meal after returning ten jars. Tentative prices start at $6 for breakfast and sides and go up to $14 for salads and entrees. The space will offer 12 seats at a communal table, but most of the focus will be on to-go.
Vichot admits that using glass jars instead of disposable packaging costs extra. She found that compostable containers cost about 40 cents a piece, whereas the glass jars cost at least $1 each. And because they're custom made, the glass jars have a high upfront cost since they must be purchased in bulk. But Vichot hopes people will be willing to pay an extra buck or so for both green mantra and the experience of eating in glass. Besides the eco-friendliness, Vichot says eating out of glass instead of cardboard is a way to slow down and have a more pleasant experience at lunch time. "It's like drinking coffee out of china," she says. "It's much nicer."
Ancolie is still raising money through Kickstarter to help cover jar manufacturing and restaurant opening costs; awards include jars, meals, and a lunch box. The restaurant is expected to open in September.