Think Small

‘Micro-Restaurant’ Atera May Not Scale, But Will Find a Way to Expand

Lightner, at right.
Lightner, at right. Photo: Dina Ávila

We’re no strangers to looking at the long-term stability issues of pop-up restaurants, and now Quartz (via Atlantic Cities) takes a look at the phenomenon of small, intimate chef counters like those at Brooklyn Fare, Blanca, and Ko. Because these “micro-restaurants” have high food costs and are centered on single chefs, they aren’t so scalable, and the risk is enormous.

Atera’s ten cooks turn out 800 plates a night for 32 guests, including a risotto painstakingly assembled from thousands of fresh garlic seeds. “That’s our idea of luxury,” says Matt Lightner, “because it takes a lot of work to peel all that garlic.”

Each of Lightner’s 27 courses have a dozen or more individual components, so nightly service seems something of a mise en place suicide mission. The hit restaurant will likely have another chapter, though, even if it can’t be duplicated. “We’re going in the reverse direction of Momofuku,” says owner Jodi Richard. “We’re starting with Atera. But we want to build other things that help us continue its creativity.”

The (Not So Great) Economics of Micro Restaurants
[Atlantic Cities]
Earlier: Gastronomics: How Pop-ups Went Boom, and Why They Should Go Bust

‘Micro-Restaurant’ Atera May Not Scale, But Will Find a Way to