The Flatiron Craftbar space that chef Tom Colicchio left due to a major rent hike will soon instead be home to the first East Coast location of Danny Meyer-backed fast-casual chain Tender Greens.
News came out Wednesday that the LA-based company offering entrees, soups, and salads had signed a lease for its first NYC location — a move that comes about two years after Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group signed on as a minority investor.
Thursday, the chain announced that they’d be moving into the former Craftbar space at 900 Broadway as early as this winter. Each location of the restaurant is run by a chef with fine dining experience, and here, an alum of acclaimed San Diego institution Lodge at Torrey Pines named Peter Balistreri will be overseeing the kitchen.
Specialties of the chain include a marinated steak, fried chicken, and a vegan salad that they call “happy.” Dishes here will cost between $12 and $15. Balistreri will also be cooking up specials, which have previously been dishes like a potato gnocchi with pork and sage and tagliatelle with prawns and lemon-caper sauce.
Tender Greens is known as a lunch and salad-heavy chain, but the company advertises itself as a “seasonal” and “chef-inspired” restaurant that’s “fine casual” instead of fast food, with an emphasis on fine dining backgrounds. Meyer has talked about being “blown away” by the restaurant while visiting California with his family.
The set-up to order food in LA locations is essentially a hot foods line akin to the prepared foods section of an upscale grocery store or a dorm cafeteria, according to West Coast Eater editors. It is kind of a blend between Sweetgreen and Dig Inn, two chains that will likely be Tender Greens’ biggest competitors as it starts out in NYC.
Newer outposts of the chain tend to focus on the design of the space as much as the food. In New York, they’ve hired architectural designers Carpenter and Mason, a Brooklyn company that’s also worked on Seamore’s and Van Leeuwen. It’s a huge space. When Craftbar lived in it, more than 150 people could fit in the restaurant, not including a private dining room.
The chain currently has 24 locations, all in California. When Meyer’s investment was first announced, news came out that the company wanted as many as 15 outposts in NYC. No word yet on how aggressively they plan to expand, but with competitors Sweetgreen and Dig Inn also on a growth rampage, New York will like soon be awash with “chef-inspired” fast-casual lunch fare.