Why Crate & Barrel’s Restaurant Concept Has National Potential | FSR magazine

Crate & Barrel has always been at home in the kitchen, but now it’s pushing into foodservice with the help of a seasoned chef.

Crate & Barrel is synonymous with nicely appointed kitchens and perfectly set tables. It makes sense, then, that the brand would push into the restaurant space with the Table at Crate, a full-service, chef-driven, all-day concept that opened inside its Oak Brook, Illinois, location in July.

A joint effort from the longtime purveyor of housewares, Chicago-based Cornerstone Restaurant Group (crg), and CRG partner and chef Bill Kim, the restaurant runs on cross-industry collaboration. Crate & Barrel has been in retail since 1962, but 2019’s Table at Crate is its first venture into the foodservice industry. Similarly, since its inception in 1993, CRG has achieved success within the restaurant sphere, backing Kim’s Urbanbelly, ENO Wine Bar, and the Michael Jordan–brand concepts, yet steering clear of the retail category until now. This is also the first retail-restaurant combo that Kim has helmed.


The Table at Crate operates thanks to a symbiotic relationship between these parties, with each bringing its own set of skills to the table—figuratively and literally. The restaurant’s namesake is a 13-foot maple table set to inspire convivial group dining.

The result is a seamless combination of retail and fine dining. The space is fully furnished with Crate & Barrel goods, visually melding the restaurant experience into the shopping one. The flavors are inspired by the way Kim and his wife, Yvonne Cadiz (both are loyal Crate & Barrel customers) cook in their home kitchen. The lunch-and-dinner menu is augmented by afternoon tea offerings and a coffee and pastry bar to service all-day shoppers or guests who visit in between meals.

Thanks to the new success of the Table at Crate’s first location, the brand announced its plan to open up to 15 additional full-service restaurants in its top stores in the future. Crate & Barrel CEO Neela Montgomery and Kim discuss the Oak Brook location ahead of what could be a nationwide expansion.

What can those involved gain from this collaboration? What are the takeaways from both the retail and restaurant sides?

Neela Montgomery: Food and beverage is a natural extension of the Crate & Barrel brand. Our customers share our passion for entertaining, and we created the Table at Crate to provide them with an immersive brand experience that goes beyond traditional shopping touchpoints. We created an inviting place for our customers, existing and new, to experience this location as a lifestyle destination.