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Frederik de Pue goes for hat trick with latest venture

Thursday - 1/23/2014, 8:07am  ET

Following in the footsteps of several D.C. restaurant industry colleagues, chef Frederik de Pue wants to take more than one bite at the apple with his new concept, Menu MBK.

The MBK stands for "Market, BistroBar and Kitchen," and De Pue is planning to offer all three when he opens later this month in the former Azur space, 405 Eighth St. NW. The market is expected to open Thursday with the restaurant to follow.

The market will activate the street level, which often looked empty at Azur because people preferred to sit on one of the two levels upstairs where more of the restaurant action was, De Pue said. The market will feature fresh produce, cheese and charcuterie along with grab-and-go meals from his catering operation, which is also located in the space.

The restaurant on the floors above will offer a more casual menu of bar bites (the BistroBar) as well as a more formal chef's counter (Menu Kitchen) where the chef will offer a fixed-price dinner menu.

Dividing restaurant spaces into more than one concept has become de rigeur in the D.C. region as restaurateurs look for revenue streams that supplement their dinner operations. A bunch of others have made a go of it, mostly with success:

  • District Commons/Burger Tap & Shake: This combination in Foggy Bottom from Passion Food Hospitality has a shared kitchen that churns out burgers for the fast-casual BTS all day and night as well as upscale casual business lunches and food for the lively bar and dinner crowd at District Commons.
  • Woodward Table and WTF (Woodward Takeout Food): Chef Jeff Buben turned part of his large restaurant space at 15th and H streets NW into a super-fast sandwich joint; meanwhile, next door, diners have the choice of lunch or dinner from the Vidalia chef's Southern-inspired, modern American menu.
  • Kapnos/G: This 7,000 square foot spot from celebrity chef Mike Isabella combines a Greek restaurant in Kapnos with G, a sub shop by day and small, tasting-menu-only restaurant at night. Isabella said opening G made it so he didn't have to worry about the lack of sit-down lunch business at Kapnos in the relatively residential area.
  • Eamonn's/PX/TNT: The folks behind Restaurant Eve and a handful of other Northern Virginia restaurants are big fans of the dual concept. They paired Eamonn's, a Dublin-style fish-and-chips house, with a cocktail bar at two different locations: Old Town Alexandria and Columbia Pike. Now, Eat Good Food Group, the parent company, is changing out the Eamonn's on Columbia Pike for another one of its concepts, Society Fair, to see if that brings in more revenue at that location. Says EGFG partner Meshelle Armstrong: "I prefer doing it this way. It allows us to try out concepts."
  • Iota Club & Cafe: A few years ago, the owners of Iota turned the restaurant half of their concert venue into a coffee shop and restaurant. Now the space has daytime traffic from brunch-goers, those seeking lunch and coffee drinkers on their laptops. The spot recently added a third facet with its "back bar," which serves beer in the back alley at night when the venue turns into cover charge only.

Who else do you see capitalizing on the dual-concept concept? Do you think they work? Let us know in the comments.

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