A Silicon Valley millionaire is on a mission to feed Americans healthy, locally-grown food — and not just the ones who can afford to do all their shopping at Whole Foods. Venture capitalist and entrepreneur Kimbal Musk, brother to Elon Musk and current board member at both Tesla and SpaceX, is expanding his Boulder, Colorado-based “urban casual” restaurant Next Door in a major way: Musk intends to have 50 locations by 2020, he announced this morning in a post on Medium, working towards his goal of “bringing Real Food to everyone.”
Musk, who went to culinary school at the International Culinary Center (neé French Culinary Institute) in NYC, co-founded his first restaurant, the Kitchen, in Boulder in 2004. On the menu: “garden-to-table” fare like $17 mushroom toast. Wanting to make his food more approachable to everyone, Musk later opened a more casual, lower-priced concept right next door, aptly called Next Door.
Next Door currently has three locations across the Denver area, with a fourth on the way, and for its massive expansion Musk will initially be focusing on “America’s Heartland” — aka the Midwest. A Memphis outpost is slated to open early this year.
What, precisely, is “urban casual”? Musk defines it as “a new approach to dining out that is faster, more fun and affordable to the average American,” writing that Next Door “embraces the future of Postmates, UberEATS, and other food delivery services so that you can have incredible real food delivered to your home with the touch of a button.” Much of the menu clocks in under $10, from organic kale chips and chicken-quinoa soup to build-your-own dry-aged beef burgers, and the existing locations source nearly half of their food from farms within driving distance.
Musk also recently debuted another, even lower-priced restaurant concept: Called Kitchenette, it currently has just one location in Memphis and offers locally sourced grab-and-go fare, most of it priced around $5 or less. For now, though, he’s focusing his efforts on expanding Next Door: "We want to replace all the T.G.I. Friday's, Applebee's — at a price point that is arguably even lower than those guys," Musk told Eater last summer. "We still serve burgers, salads and so forth, but it's local. It's healthy. And it's inexpensive."