The retailer's first restaurant, The Table, opened earlier this year.

By Jelisa Castrodale
September 17, 2019
Crate and Barrel

Earlier this summer, The Table at Crate opened inside Crate & Barrel's Oakbrook, Illinois store, becoming the retailer's first-ever full-service restaurant. And although C&B has only been serving its modern-casual fare for (almost) three months, the Illinois-based company is already eyeing the interiors of more than a dozen of its other stores as it decides where and when its next restaurants will open.

“'[The Table] was a win right out of the gate,” Crate & Barrel CEO Neela Montgomery beamed on Monday. "It was profitable in the second month.” During an appearance at Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit in Toronto, Montgomery said that they could expand The Crate concept to between 10 to 15 of its "top" locations. (She did not provide a timeline, or share which markets might get their own in-store Crates; Food & Wine has reached out to Crate & Barrel for additional information.) 

James Beard nominee Bill Kim is the executive chef of The Table at Crate, and his Cornerstone Restaurant group is the operator of the restaurant. As Kim designed the menu, he focused on fresh vegetables, on local farmers, and on creating the kind of experience that would be satisfying without being overwhelming.

"People want to experience the art of dining,” Kim told Food & Wine in July. “[Diners] are looking to be pleasantly full. No doggy bag. We don’t want our guests to feel like they have to be wheeled out after their meal.” (Although Crate & Barrel would undoubtedly design a sleek, modern cart for pushing their overstuffed customers out of the store.)

Crate and Barrel

The Table at Crate serves lunch, dinner, and a $30-per-person Afternoon Tea Tower. The current menu features a number of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, including a smashed avocado, pickled red onion and pumpkins seed tartine; a shrimp poke bowl served with edamame, avocado, and cauliflower rice; and deep-dish cauliflower lasagna. It also serves antibiotic-free chicken, sustainably sourced salmon, and its breads are supplied by Chicago's own Publican Quality Breads, whose head baker Greg Wade recently took home the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Baker.

Although The Table is a new concept for Crate & Barrel, a number of other retailers have dining options inside their stores. In 2016, Barnes & Noble opened its first Barnes & Noble Kitchen in its Edina, Minnesota location; there are now five Kitchens scattered from Eastchester, New York to Folsom, California. (And that's definitely not the place to use a taco as a bookmark.)

RH—formerly known as Restoration Hardware—has restaurants in its Chicago, New York, Nashville, Toronto, West Palm Beach, and Yountville (Calif.) locations. And of course the high-dollar retailer describes them not as restaurants but as "world-class hospitality offerings." Very on-brand, RH.

And in July, Lululemon opened a massive 20,000 square foot location in Chicago, which included its first foray into in-store dining. According to CNBC, Fuel, which serves up power bowls, acai-berry smoothies, bone broth, and kombucha on tap. Say it with us: very on-brand, Lulu.

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