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St. Louis Chef Gerard Craft Announces New Fast-Casual Concept

Porano Pasta & Gelato will open in downtown St. Louis this summer.

Greg Rannells/courtesy Craft

Prolific St. Louis, Missouri chef Gerard Craft is opening another restaurant, joining the slew of other Beard-nominated chefs to go fast-casual. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Craft, who also operates the Italian restaurant Pastaria and the fine-dining Niche, will open Porano Pasta & Gelato in downtown St. Louis, borrowing ideas from both Chipotle Mexican Grill and his causal sit-down restaurant Pastaria. According to the Post-Dispatch, Porano will offer guests build-your-own pasta and salad bowls, with optional add-ons for protein (brisket, pork meatballs) and the diner's choice of sauces. (Gluten-free pasta, farro, and bread bases will also be available.)

Porano will set up shop later this summer in downtown's new Mercantile Exchange district, and Craft does not reveal whether he has grander expansion plans in mind. But Craft has long been working toward making dining more "accessible": In a 2013 interview with Eater, Craft described his inspiration for Pastaria as both kid- and adult-friendly, creating a place where "people could bring their families and the parents didn't have to suffer crappy food."

Of course, Craft isn't the only acclaimed chef going the fast-casual route: Most notably, Jose Andres and Joshua Skenes are among those jostling for a place in the fast-casual market. More information about Porano Pasta & Gelato as it becomes available.