Follow Sage Restaurant Group every step of the way as it works to open Urban Farmer in Cleveland next April. The modern steakhouse is part of an $80-million hotel project.
Peter Karpinski, co-founder and c.o.o. of Sage Restaurant Group
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This transformation will be completed in April when the 481-room Westin hotel and the 220-seat Urban Farmer are scheduled to open. The restaurant, described as a modern steakhouse, will have another 45 seats available outside on a new patio being built and will feature several other touch points intended to distinguish it from the competition.
There will be a charcuterie station and dry aging room visible to the guest, a butchery program, a cheese cart delivering local and artisanal products through the restaurant and a canning room, or what Karpinski calls a working pantry. It will feature several tables surrounded by walls lined with house-canned fruits, vegetables and preserves—“anything and everything,” he says—that the chefs may wander in from the kitchen to grab during service.
Karpinski says it’s a steakhouse first, but the farm-to-table description certainly fits, too. The menu in Portland offers a glimpse of what Cleveland can expect: Most beef dishes are named after the farms they come from, like the 24-ounce Painted Hills porterhouse ($55), or the 14-ounce Highland Oak ribeye ($44). Some, like the 12-ounce Wagyu from Imperial Ranch in Nebraska, come with an $80 price tag, but Karpinski says there’s also one of the best burgers you’ll ever have for $14, served on a house-made English muffin with tomato jam. There’s plenty of pork, chicken and seafood to choose from, as well as sides like roasted foraged mushrooms and other vegetable and potato options.
The Urban Farmer in Portland also serves as the financial model for Cleveland, and the Sage team expects similar success here. In Portland, check averages are $77 for dinner, $21 for lunch and $17 for breakfast.
The restaurant will be part of the hotel, serving those three meals a day and providing room service, but its main entrance will be from the street. And the bulk of its business will come through those doors. Karpinski says roughly 80 percent of Sage Restaurant Group’s revenue comes not from hotel guests, but from the people living and working in the communities it serves. The separate, yet symbiotic relationship between divisions is what allows Sage to create independent, creative and profitable restaurants within its hotels. The secret corporate sauce pushes average yearly revenues at each concept to approximately $4 million, compared to a more typical hotel restaurant at less than a quarter of that, he says. Locals make up the difference.
Karpinski has been coming to Cleveland since before the deal was even consummated, a dozen or so times, he estimates. He’s gotten to know—and like—the gritty Rust-Belt city, and he’s bullish on its ongoing renaissance that already includes new additions like a casino and convention center. He believes this modern steakhouse is a perfect fit, not far from Browns Stadium, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the new convention center.
He’s been overseeing this project from the start and estimates 75 percent of the work is already done, but there’s still a lot left. Most pressing is finding an executive chef, and then will come menu development, more hiring, training and marketing the restaurant. The heavy lifting is done on the actual building, as plans, permits and demolition are in the books, but the construction team now races to finish the exterior before the weather turns.
Come along for the ride as Karpinksi and Sage allow us an inside look at what goes into creating one of their restaurants. Follow the series online at www.restaurant-hospitality.com/urban-farmer-undercover. Next up: On the ground in Cleveland/Sage Restaurant Group reveals what farm to table means as a team of execs spends two days in Cleveland on research and development.