Repurposing Private Dining Rooms
In Park Slope, also in Brooklyn, Olmsted chef and owner Greg Baxtrom has turned his private dining room into the Olmsted Trading Post. He now stocks around 120 items, including several he served at his restaurant, such as house-cured lox and breads and cookies from his pastry chef Alex Grunert (the sourdough sauerkraut loaves sell out fast), in addition to such new stay-at-home novelties as mushroom-growing kits.

“There’s no end in sight to reopen,” says Baxtrom. “I don’t see Olmsted back this year, or Maison Yaki [his Japanese skewer restaurant]. And I don’t think anyone is going to be looking for a private dining room anytime soon.”

If they are, he says, he will consider expanding his market or bakery to another nearby storefront; he fears more will become available in the near future. Still, he says, it’s no small thing to manage these places: “Chefs like weird new challenges. But this is a lot. It’s not just the cooking, getting the product—you run out of containers for your hot sauce. Running a general store is exhausting.”

Demand for French Butter
In Chicago, Café Cancale Marche is a just-opened neighborhood French market that’s taken over the dining room at Café Cancale in Chicago’s Wicker Park. As of Wednesday, the place offers seafood such as shrimp, halibut, and oyster-shucking kits; such pantry items as rose vinegar, canned tuna, and truffled Dijon mustard; and martini kits from its sister bar, the Violet Hour. 

“Café Cancale is easily adaptable to this model because so much of what we already present can be a la carte. People always ask us about our spices, salts, sauces,” says Paul Kahan, chef and partner of One Off Hospitality. “We use a lot of cool ingredients not readily available to consumers, such as Coquelicot spice from La Boîte, and Beillevaire Butter from Brittany. The market allows us to get to that next logical step of offering ready-to-pick-up product to the public.”

A Dedicated Instagram Account
San Francisco coffee chain Sightglass opened up its first Los Angeles location, a 12,000-square-foot roastery and cafe, on March 14, promptly faced a mandated shutdown, and then reopened as Sightglass Provisions at the end of April. Culinary director Brett Cooper oversees inventory such as artichokes from local farmers, brined chickens, poultry, and vegetable stock, and bagels and cinnamon rolls from pastry chef Jillian Bartolome.

The chain plans to continue with the market model, even after it returns to serving dine-in guests. Its commitment extends to creating a dedicated Instagram account to the place.

“We’ve been really happy to offer produce to people that has literally just been harvested,” says Cooper. “It’s especially important to connect people with the small, local places we work with who need our help.”

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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