One of the Biggest Names in Vegan Cuisine to Open Food Hall in Providence
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
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Matthew Kenney, PHOTO: Kenney
Matthew Kenney -- one of the biggest names in vegan cuisine in America -- is opening a food hall in Providence this year. He has opened 17 restaurants across the world and has 15 more set to open, but this is his first food hall.
In an interview with GoLocal on Monday night, Kenney said he has been wanting to open a food hall and thinks Providence is a great city to launch the concept.
“I have been thinking about this since visiting food halls in Madrid ten or so years ago and love Eataly, they are great food experiences,” said Kenney.
“We think there is a lot of interest in a plant-based lifestyle,” said Kenney whose official title is CEO of MKC, but has become a leading evangelist and creative force in the commercialization of plant-based eating.
Location and Logistics
The food hall in Providence will be called Plant City and is now being built out at the former location of the former Barnsider’s Mile & A Quarter Restaurant.
The 10,000-square-foot space will be able to accommodate roughly 225 seats between its upper and lower levels, as well as a large outdoor patio.
A portion of the lower level hosts Plant City’s retail component, which includes a curated selection of both perishable and non-perishable products, fermented nut cheeses, plant-based desserts, boutique packaged goods, cookbooks, and to-go foods and juices.
Plant City will feature two of Kenney’s restaurant concepts inside the food hall — Double Zero and Bar Verde. Kenney's restaurants are located across the world -- internationally, in Argentina, Bahrain, and Australia; in the U.S., in Los Angeles and New York City.
“Plant City will seamlessly integrate our restaurant concepts into a collective format under one roof,” says Kenney. “You could say it’s a reinterpretation of food halls like Eataly – but founded on our highly-refined approach to plant-based cuisine.”
Kenney said he expects Plant City to open in early June -- a target open date is June 10.
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Double Zero Pizza, PHOTO: Instagram
Providence is the Destination
The addition of Kenney is a reversal of the trend where some Rhode Island food stars have left for bigger plays in Boston. Matt Jennings closed up the Providence-based Farmstead in 2014 and left for Boston. He opened the Townsman in Boston, but it closed less than four years later.
Kenney has won awards from Food & Wine and received two James Beard nominations. His entrance into the market comes on the heels of a proposed Providence-based food hall unraveling.
Floundering Food Hall
Over the past ten days, a GoLocal investigation unveiled the financial dispute between Eat Drink RI’s founder David Dadekian and his former employee Katie Kleyla have split and questions about the usage of nearly $100,000 that was crowdsourced for use towards the proposed West Park Food Hall in Providence have emerged.
Kleyla has called on Dadekian to disclose the use of more than $100,000 that had been raised on Kickstarter that she says is unaccounted for -- and which Dadekian said went partially to pay for her salary, which was not a stated used of funds for the Kickstarter.
READ GoLocal's Coverage
$400K in Grants & Crowdfunding - Questions Emerge About Central Market & West Park Food Hall
Organizer Calls for Documentation of $100K Fundraised by Dadekian for West Park Food Hall
$35K of Crowdsourcing for West Park Food Hall Spent on Salary — Landlord Says He Never Had Agreement
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Pumpkin Roasted in Almond Oil. Markut Lime Leaf. Roasted Grapes. Pepitas. PHOTO: Instagram
Kenney New England Roots, Providence Focused
“Having grown up in New England, I love coming back to the area, so it’s especially exciting to expand our brand into Providence,” says Kenney, who grew up in Maine.
“I think this concept is better suited for Providence than Boston — it is the right size for this city,” said Kenney, who said he is in Providence regularly as his partner, Charlotte MacKinnon, is a Barrington native.
“The city already boasts a reputation for its dynamic food culture and robust dining scene – yet the plant-based market is still very much untapped, despite the demand for it,” he added in a statement to GoLocal.
Hiring in Rhode Island
Kenney says he believes there are a lot of people in the hospitality industry that are interested in a plant-based, healthy culture. "We had a job fair and the response was tremendous and we are getting hit via social media and email all the time from folks looking for a different experience -- one with a culture of creativity," said Kenney.
Kenney believes the location will be a boon. Wexford is slated to be completed in this year and the $21.9 million pedestrian bridge is nearing completion. The bridge connects the South Water street area with the Jewelry District.