RedWether Collaborative, created through a partnership between Atlanta chef Kevin Gillespie’s Red Beard Restaurants and innovative hospitality developers Meriwether Companies, aims to take the current food hall trend to the next level. The group has identified sites in Kansas City, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, for their first locations, with Kansas City’s Crossroads neighborhood scheduled to open in mid-2018.
In 2013, Gillespie opened Gunshow with the goal of creating the next generation of restaurants, where there were no longer walls between the chefs and the guests and providing a fun, interactive experience for both. With this successful experiment in full swing, he turned his attention to another long-standing goal: to help other chefs open their own restaurants but in a less risky way. Through RedWether Collaborative and the contributions of his partners at Meriwether, Gillespie hopes to create a new type of multi-restaurant experience where the tenants are chefs specially chosen for their entrepreneurial desires and capacity for future success.
“I have been wanting to help chefs try a new concept or open their first restaurant, and I finally have the right partner to do this,” says Gillespie. “As a restaurateur, I think mostly about food and service. Meriwether thinks about the setting and the overall experiences. Together, we envision a curated, micro-restaurant environment where aspiring entrepreneurs get to take the next step toward their dreams with RedWether as a support structure behind them. It’s a unique hybrid of restaurant and incubator.”
Meriwether partner Garrett Simon says, “Kevin has a way of looking at the traditional way of doing things and coming up with a better idea. We celebrate innovative thinking and consider him our spiritual leader. We can fill gaps for each other to create exciting spaces for consumers and our chef tenants. We looked all over the country and fell in love with Kansas City and Nashville; they are perfect for our first locations.”
Adds Gillespie regarding current and future sites, “We see talent and food culture all over the country, not just in the major cities. That’s why we were drawn to Kansas City and Nashville initially. There is so much there, and we want to be a part of the exciting food culture that already exists. The cool thing about RedWether is that each site will be a homegrown experience filled by locals. It will be completely different in each city.”
The RedWether Collaborative partners will choose six to eight concepts for each location. In addition to the chef and cuisine, they consider the ways the dishes will complement and contrast with each other to enhance the total experience for the guests. RedWether controls service and the bars inside the space, giving the chef tenants the ability to focus on their food without the burden of a lot of paperwork or the need to access large sums of money.
“We want to give our chefs a path to the future and groom the next generation of restaurateurs,” says Gillespie. “Our operating goal is to strengthen the tenants for the time they are with us. We can all benefit from learning, and we plan to make this educational for all involved. We want to ensure that a RedWether concept goes from Point A to Point B while they are with us, leaving stronger than when they started. We hope to create a culture of mentoring—a true collaborative.”
For consumers, RedWether’s restaurant properties will offer an ever-changing environment in which to try new things while ultimately adding to the city’s restaurant scene. The company’s first location is slated to open in Kansas City in mid-2018. RedWether has signed a letter of intent for its second location in Nashville’s Germantown Union mixed-use development. RedWether is currently considering markets throughout the United States for future development.