Off the chain: New York's boutique chain restaurants
The Pump Energy Food on Pine Street.
Fast food doesn’t simply mean a quick stop under the Golden Arches. New York City has no shortage of boutique chains that can give you tasty, healthier fare in a matter of minutes. Just don’t call them fast food.The Pump Energy Food
Adam Eskin was such a loyal customer that in 2006 he led a group of investors to buy the chain. “I have always tried to live healthy and what I eat is important,” he said. Four locations still have the original menu, but the two newest locations, at Pine and Pearl streets, and Madison Avenue and 40th Street, allow customers to create their own dishes. They pick a base — a wrap, salad or brown rice — then choose a protein, vegetables and other toppings. Prices are between $7 and $9. A new midtown location is set to open soon.
Kolache MamaEnergy Kitchen
The newcomer of the bunch, Kolache Mama, offers Central European-style yeast rolls in 25 varieties. Meat lovers should try The Dorian, made of corned beef, mushrooms, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese; veggie options include spinach, feta and olive; and sweet choices include baked apple or chocolate ganache fillings. Two kolaches and a drink are $8. There is one location outside the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown, but at least two more are planned for this year, with one announced at 35th Street and Park Avenue.
Founder and owner Anthony Leone has created a restaurant where nothing is more than 500 calories. “We take the thinking out of health,” he said. Some of the best-selling items include the $8 Bison Cheesesteak Wrap and the $5 Energy Breakfast Sandwich. By the end of 2010, Leone hopes to expand from nine to 26 locations. ‘Wichcraft
’Wichcraft looks to offer fine dining between two pieces of bread. Everything is made by hand, with local, seasonal ingredients. “Nothing served in our restaurant is made in a factory,” President Jeffrey Zurofsky said. Innovative sandwiches cost less than $10 and can be made into a salad for the same price. ’Wichcraft has 11 locations, some stalls and some full restaurants. A dinner menu is available at the 20th Street location. Maoz Vegetarian
Launched in Amsterdam, this Middle Eastern spot has four locations in New York. A complementary salad bar offers toppings and sauces to spice up your falafel. “The average meal is around $7.50,” said Yair Marinov, U.S. chief operations officer. “Hummus is our most popular add-on,” he said, “which is healthy because chickpeas have a lot of vitamins.”
The food here is defined by the belief that “better sells better,” meaning that all ingredients are always under scrutiny. You can choose your own combinations or go with a 60-day menu specialty such as the Jamaican Jerk Cobb. Co-founder Tony Shure recommended the po’boy salad with panko-fried chicken. Most salads cost about $8. There are four stores in New York, with another one in Times Square set to open soon.