A new restaurant with a menu inspired by the street food of Southeast Asia will open within the next few months in Downtown Boston. Grainmaker will arrive at 91 Summer St. with rice bowls, salads, and banh mi, along with plenty of catchy tag lines.
The menu revolves around three core elements: Grainmaker’s warm bowls, salads, and street signatures. The pre-set menu allows customers to choose a protein and select one of five different combinations. Protein options include chicken, lemongrass steak, kale and pork meatballs, tofu, and vegetables.
Chris Freeman is behind the restaurant; he has years of experience in the industry, first working in management at Burger King and later helping expand Boston’s own B.Good into Europe. A sense of community and potential for growth drew him to Boston, where he plans to open more Grainmaker locations once the flagship gets off the ground.
Grainmaker built its brand with the help of consumers: Freeman consulted potential diners in Boston on everything from the name and tag lines to the menu, which features Southeast Asian street food, centered around warm rice bowls, or as Freeman calls it, the humble grain.
To develop the menu, Freeman partnered with executive chef Doris Choi, based out of New York City, who brings to Grainmaker years of experience developing menus for restaurants worldwide.
“We kind of led it down a path where rice made sense,” Freeman said. “We really wanted to focus everything on the rice.”
The bowls have bases of jasmine rice, volcano rice, or cauliflower “rice.” Salads or rice noodles are also available. Meanwhile, the street signatures section of the menu features a banh mi, tacos, and noodles, and sides include items like sticky mango rice made with coconut milk and watermelon salsa with plantain chips. Grainmaker will also serve smoothies and beverages like Thai basil lemonade.
“Eventually, we’re in the works to get the beer and wine license,” Freeman said.
The entire Grainmaker menu will be dairy-free, and most dishes are free of gluten. Additionally, Freeman will partner with a number of local producers to source ingredients and to handle parts of the business like food waste.
“We wanted to do local everything, as much as we could,” Freeman said. “The first step is we’ll always look for a small business and local business. If there’s no one there, we’ll go with a local business, but they can be a large business.”
For example, Grainmaker partnered with a local potter who will produce more than 200 bowls for the restaurant, and the baguettes for the menu’s banh mi will come from Nick Robertson of Somerville Bread Company.
“He’s making the French baguettes for us every day, and we will not hold them past that day,” Freeman said. “It’s nicer to partner with someone like Nick who’s really passionate about what he’s doing.”
Additionally, Grainmaker will work with Boston Rescue Mission to eliminate food waste in the restaurant. “Our crew or someone from their place will come over and take the food that’s run out its lifeline, and they’ll serve it in their kitchen,” Freeman said.
That sense of community contributed to the draw for Freeman to open Grainmaker in the area.
“I think Boston just had a food scene that’s starting to grow,” Freeman said. “It’s a perfect time. There’s just so much stuff popping up.”
Freeman raised money to fund the startup of the flagship restaurant along with subsequent locations, with a goal of opening 10 locations in Greater Boston within the next three to four years.
The first location could open by the end of September or early October, and Grainmaker has already started hiring staff.
• Grainmaker [Official Site]