By Monica Burton via Eater
Breakfast is undeniably good business, and as chefs and restaurateurs have caught on, so too has the all-day restaurant. Unlike the familiar all-day diner, which itself has seen something of a revival in recent years, and its close cousin, the newly trendy luncheonette, today’s casual, multi-hyphenate spaces offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a range of cuisines. They’re often helmed by chefs from the world of high-end dinner service. And they are cropping up in America’s major cities — especially New York and Los Angeles.
As formal fine dining takes a backseat to more casual fare, the all-day destination makes sense. Continuous dining lets restaurateurs tap into the same mores that are driving diners into fast-casual restaurants, without having to give up on the idea of a comfortable, full-service experience. And with an all-day restaurant, operators can maximize profits while serving casual, and often less pricey, food. “There’s this mentality as a business owner that every day that we have the ability to be open and every hour is a blessing, so we want to take advantage of everything we can do,” notes Dan Salls, chef at Chicago all-day Mexican restaurant Quiote.
It has become clear to many in the industry that diner preferences are changing. “In order to stay relevant and keep guests coming back, you have to be able to provide a diverse range of experiences,” says Camille Becerra, chef at New York’s a.m.-to-p.m. restaurant De Maria. Fewer people are required to spend their days inside an office, and for many, restaurants and cafes are meeting and work spaces as well. What’s more, the all-day format gives restaurants the opportunity to become fixtures in their communities at all times. Becerra asks, “Why can’t your go-to spot accommodate you for breakfast, dinner, and drinks?”
There’s no end in sight for the rise in all-day dining projects from fine-dining chefs and industry vets. The Alinea Group, titans of the Chicago fine dining scene, teased potential plans for an all-day restaurant in a space they bought last year. During a recent Reddit AMA, partner Nick Kokonas wrote, “For a long time we’ve wanted to do a venue that combines a few great experiences in one place — primarily food and music. That’s our intention in that location... and serving breakfast, too.”
Sqirl visionary Jessica Koslow’s next Los Angeles project will be an all-day Israeli restaurant, called Tel. NYC’s Perla is closing, and will re-emerge as the day-to-night Fairfax. A new restaurant from the Littleneck crew in New York will soon add dinner to existing breakfast and lunch service, as will Bay Area chef Preeti Mistry’s Navi Kitchen in Emeryville, California, completing these restaurants’ transformations to round-the-clock destinations. Chef Jason Vincent’s follow up to essential Chicago restaurant Giant, City Mouse, launches with brunch first, but will necessarily be an all-day restaurant given its location at Chicago’s Ace Hotel.
Below, how some of this year’s new all-day restaurants are splitting their focus across all three meals of the day:
Location: Los Angeles Opened: January 2017 Key Players: Sara Kramer, Sarah Hymanson
The 45-seat Kismet opened with a Middle Eastern-meets-California menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the goal of becoming a fixture in its Los Feliz neighborhood, says Sara Kramer, the co-chef and co-owner. “I love a place that you can always depend on, that you can stop in any time of day and know that you’re getting a quality experience and product,” she says. “The slower moments when restaurants might normally be closed really allow us to foster a more community-oriented, slower-paced vibe with our customers.”
Location: Chicago Opened: February 2017 Key Players: Dan Salls
Quiote chef Dan Salls got his start with lunch. Before Quiote, Salls had the first cook-on-board food truck in Chicago, the Salsa Truck, and opened a lunch counter, the Garage. When he found the space for Quiote, though, he felt it warranted more than just lunch service. “We’re on a very high-traffic street. We have access to incredible coffee and lots of great resources in Chicago, so opening up the cafe and going into all day seemed like a no brainer,” he says. The Logan Square restaurant now comprises a basement mezcal bar, a street-food-inspired lunch, and a dinner service with composed modern Mexican plates.
Location: New York City Opened: February, dinner launched May 2017 Key Players: Danny Meyer, Carmen Quagliata, Daniel Alvarez, Justin Rosengarten, Sam Lipp
The eagerly awaited casual arm of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe, Daily Provisions launched with breakfast and lunch in February. Adding dinner was always part of the plan, and in May, the tiny cafe extended its hours to 9 p.m. In its early days of evening service, transition between lunch and dinner wasn’t completely seamless, says director of operations Sam Lipp. “We’re continuing to try to work on ways to make sure people know about all the great stuff we have an offer without making it feel like we’re hitting you over the head with signage everywhere,” he says.
But, ultimately, Lipp thinks casual counter service is where dining is headed. “To be able to get food that is prepared with as much thought and as much care for the ingredients and the techniques as a fine dining, full-service restaurant at a lesser cost and in much less time — you’ve really got a formula there that’s built for the modern human.”
Location: Los Angeles Opened: March 2017 Key Players: Raphael Lunetta
The “modern neighborhood diner,” as the Lunetta All Day website puts it, is a departure for its chef, who helmed fine-dining restaurant JiRaffe for 18 years before closing that Santa Monica landmark in 2015. Here Raphael Lunetta offers pastries and coffee at breakfast alongside an “AM” menu, and in the evening, guests can select from a “PM” menu and a full bar. According to Eater LA, Lunetta All Day was the precursor to a more formal sit-down dinner restaurant, Lunetta, now open next door.
Location: San Francisco Opened: May 2017 Key Players: Daniel Patterson, Matt Brimer
Daniel Patterson opened a second location of casual-but-sophisticated restaurant Alta CA in the Minnesota Street Project, which offers affordable and sustainable art space, with the idea that it would fit in seamlessly in the historic Dogpatch neighborhood. And although the first Alta on Market Street is only open for dinner, being open all day was a natural fit for the community-focused second location. “It gives more opportunity to connect with people in different ways,” he says, and more opportunities to do business.
The goal is for the “casual fine-dining” restaurant to become a place for people to frequent at all hours, as it cycles through coffee and pastries for breakfast, soup, salads, and sandwiches for lunch, and various small plates for dinner, plus sparkling wine cocktails on tap. So far, Alta seems to be fitting into the Mission Street Project community, and with the all-day format, the airy, 45-seat dining room gets busier as it transitions through the three meal services. “You have to create the right culture for it first, and it fits really well.” Patterson says. “The first interest has to be connecting with people.”
Location: Philadelphia Opened: June 2017 Key Players: Branden McRill, Daniel Eddy, and Patrick Cappiello
The team behind New York’s Rebelle just opened an all-day restaurant in the FMC Tower, which bills itself as Philadelphia’s first “vertical neighborhood.” Walnut Street Café, their first project outside of New York, is meant “to be as many things to as many people as it possibly can,” Patrick Cappiello, co-owner and head of the 120-bottle wine program, told Philly.com. The 90-seat restaurant opens at 8 a.m. with breakfast and a dedicated pastry counter, before transitioning to lunch and dinner service, finally becoming a cocktail bar, complete with frozen margarita machine, in the evenings.