Cornerstone Restaurant Group (CRG), a national leader in the restaurant space, looks beyond traditional borders in restaurant dining to where the customer is consuming today. Widely considered a trailblazer in the delivery space in Chicago, CRG is embracing new opportunities and new technologies in the months ahead. Led by freshly minted President Josh Zadikoff, CRG is pleased to announce exciting initiatives this summer, from a virtual restaurant space to retail dining to food halls.
EMBRACING RETAIL: CRATE & BARREL’S FIRST RESTAURANT
CRG has partnered with global home furnishings retailer, Crate & Barrel, to open their first full-service restaurant, The Table at Crate, featuring CRG partner, Chef Bill Kim, at the helm of its modern menu. The new restaurant will be located at one of their largest stores in Oak Brook, IL, and is planned to open this July. The restaurant will feature indoor and outdoor seating on two levels and over 100 seats. Unique features will include social and shopping integrations, beyond what restaurants have offered before, as well as fun aspects like a shopping bag valet in restaurant.
CRG embraced a new virtual restaurant space, Kitchen United, to expand the delivery footprint of its urbanbelly brand. The virtual restaurant provider based out of Los Angeles opened its second location in Chicago earlier this year. Kitchen United’s “kitchen centers” are facilities that can house 10-20 restaurants with commercial kitchens optimized specifically for the catering, delivery and takeout marketplace – offering CRG a value-driven, low-risk opportunity to expand their delivery range and reach more customers faster. With this move, the brand expanded to Chicago’s River North and Streeterville neighborhoods.
EXPANDING TO FOOD HALLS
Chef Bill Kim was recently announced as an incoming chef at the first Time Out Market in Chicago. The 50,000 square-foot, three-level Chicago food hall will feature 18 restaurants, three bars and a demo kitchen. Kim was hand-selected by Time Out editors, including other well-regarded Chicago chefs, such as Brian Fisher of Entente and Thai Dang of HaiSous. His location within the food hall will serve familiar favorites and new items, both to the tune of his boldly flavored brand.
Additionally, May wrapped up urbanbelly’s three-month-long pop-up at the popular lunch destination, Revival Food Hall. As one the first and most popular food halls in Chicago, urbanbelly was much loved by the Loop workers and residents, providing a successful run for CRG and expanding delivery further by offering a new pick-up location those three months.
ACCOMMODATING ALL GUESTS
Kim’s fast-casual urbanbelly continues to reinvent itself with craveable one-of-a-kind favorites that easily accommodate dietary restrictions, from dairy-free and gluten-free substitutions that don’t sacrifice flavor to an affordable kid’s menu. Kim’s kids menu helps to introduce younger guests to chef-driven Asian cuisine, something that many restaurants stray away from and opt to offer only American classics for kids. Kim’s creativity in the kitchen is also apparent in his seasonal specials – a new product which is sure to be a hit among both kids and ice cream-loving adults this summer is the launch of matcha soft serve, a tea-based ice cream, available on its own or with a choice of soy caramel and chocolate crunch or PB&J style.
A large piece of CRG is their growing ventures with Jump Higher, overseeing all of the Michael Jordan-brand restaurants. The group is currently planning an international expansion to the Asian market, targeting opening the first Michael Jordan’s Steak House in Asia. Michael Jordan is of course a global phenomenon and figure, and research has informed them to bring the brand to Asia where he holds a large fanbase.
DUAL CONCEPT RESTAURANTS
Another concept within the Jordan-brand restaurants is SolToro, a Mexican restaurant located in Uncasville, Connecticut. SolToro is a brand that allows for flexibility – any additional locations of the restaurant have the choice for it to be a fast-casual taco bar or a full-service restaurant, depending on which the operators believe will be more popular with the guests of that market. Cornerstone is actively seeking development partners outside of the Connecticut area to expand the brand to new markets.
Cornerstone Restaurant Group and affiliate Jump Higher, L.L.C., led by restaurateurs David Zadikoff and Josh Zadikoff, in partnership with Michael Jordan, oversee all Michael Jordan-brand restaurants, including Michael Jordan’s Steak House (Chicago, Connecticut, New York, Portland), Michael Jordan’s Restaurant in Oak Brook, Michael Jordan’s 23.sportcafe (Connecticut), and SolToro Restaurant (Connecticut). Additionally, Cornerstone’s growing Asian ventures with Chef Bill Kim include urbanbelly in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, with plans for more to come. In 2019, Cornerstone will partner with retailer Crate & Barrel to open a full-service restaurant in its Oakbrook Center location, with Kim leading the menu development. Cornerstone also manages operations for ENO Wine Room (Chicago, San Francisco). For more information, visit their website.