For many restaurants, it began out of necessity. There were supply-chain issues at grocery stores, but restaurants saw a rapid drop in business and were often overstocked. Some restaurants began operating as boutique markets and grocery stores. They offered then-hard-to-get essentials like toilet paper and milk, alongside artisan offerings like fine cheeses and meats as well as gourmet prepared meals, whole wheat flour, cocktail kits and more. While many restaurants phased out their “market” operations as the state reopened, others found a business model they plan on sticking with going forward. Here are some restaurant markets to check out.
Grass & Bone
Located a block away from the Mystic River Bascule Bridge, Grass & Bone is a little bit of everything — restaurant, butcher shop and market. Customers dine outside, while inside whole chickens spin in a rotisserie, farm-fresh meat sits in a display case, and both basic and specialty ingredients and prepared meals fill the coolers. Online orders placed by 7 p.m. can be picked up the following day at Grass & Bone or Stone Acres Farms in Stonington. On select days orders will be delivered to Old Lyme, Watch Hill (Rhode Island) and Fishers Island (New York). We stopped by one evening to browse and walked out with Jamaican beef patties, everything bagels, a sourdough cinnamon bun, a blondie, and beef fat chocolate chip cookies. One glance at the rest of the offerings and you’ll quickly realize that’s just the tip of a delicious iceberg.
24 E. Main St., 860-245-4814, grassandbonect.com
Before COVID-19 hit, Atticus Bookstore Cafe had established itself as a breadmaking trendsetter that is leading efforts to support Connecticut’s grain economy. It’s also a wonderful place for breakfast or lunch. Now you can order a variety of market items for curbside or delivery in the New Haven area. These include the restaurant’s sourdough and whole-grain breads and Connecticut-grown-and-milled flour to make your own bread, as well as a variety of prepared meals, pastries and other supplies, from beer and wine to produce including strawberries and mushrooms. The cafe will open a dedicated market space in the East Rock neighborhood at the former Romeo & Cesare’s market. There’s also a new Bread Club subscription service. Members receive a weekly delivery of fresh loaves.
1082 Chapel St., 475-241-6950, atticusmarket.com
The talented team behind The Essex, Coco Club and Los Charros Cantina launched this restaurant market in the early days of the shutdown and the owners plan to continue it indefinitely. The market offers so many different prepared foods and innovatively packed supplies it’s hard to summarize. Offerings include lobster rolls, pizza, family-friendly catering trays of assorted food styles, from Italian to Mexican, and 16-ounce cocktails. There are also supplies like flour, local dairy, produce boxes from Hunts Brook Farm in Waterford, and kits consisting of choice cuts of pre-seasoned meats ready to be thrown on the grill.
30 Main St., 860-237-4189, theessexmarket.com
The Redding Roadhouse
“Where all roads meet … in the middle of nowhere” is the slogan at The Redding Roadhouse. Now all your grocery needs can be fulfilled in the middle of nowhere as well. Pickup is Tuesday-Saturday from 4-6 p.m., and the Roadhouse has you covered. All the staples are there in the fresh produce department and there are plenty of cheeses to go along with pepperoni, salami and sopressata. The butcher counter is stocked with burgers and chicken, bacon and sausage, lamb and pork chops, New York strip and filet mignon. Beverages are available too, with a good selection of bourbon and whiskey to go along with an ample wine list.
406 Redding Road, 203-938-3388, thereddingroadhouse.com
And coming soon …
Provisions on State
Tavern on State took the Connecticut restaurant scene by storm in its first year … and then the storm took it back. Co-owner/chef Emily Mingrone and co-owner Shane McGowan started selling meats, prepared foods and even toilet paper, in addition to the Tavern takeout menu, in the early days of the shutdown. They were forced to switch gears from their original plans to open a second restaurant, instead opting to create something more useful for their East Rock neighborhood. Mingrone’s background is in butchery, so the idea for Provisions on State — tentatively scheduled to open Sept. 1 three doors down from Tavern — is to take in whole animals and provide both customers and other restaurants with different cuts of meat, burger blends and more. In addition to a butcher shop, Provisions will have specialty sandwiches, produce and possibly a retail section with cocktail books and tools (McGowan’s expertise), cookbooks and utensils.
981 State St., 475-202-6883, tavernonstate.com