Young and Hungry

THINKfoodGROUP’s Rob Wilder Discusses the Minibar’s Future

Judging by all the haters out there (BTW, my wife's got you in her sights, bettyjoan!), the highlight of Anthony Bourdain's recent No Reservations episode on D.C. was his visit to Jose Andres' minibar inside Cafe Atlantico. And why not? Andres plays the role of mad genius well, and the minibar is his laboratory.

THINKfoodGROUP, the company over the minibar and the rest of Andres' mini-empire, has been talking about revamping the experimental food theater for a long time. I caught up with TFG's CEO Rob Wilder this afternoon, and he said that's still the plan. So where are they at in the process?

They're still "in the brainstorming stage," says Wilder. The idea is not only to "to reinvent the minibar to make it a bit larger," but also "to reinvent the whole experience from when you walk in the door to when you have your last after-dinner drink." Wilder says the company has been talking about enlarging the 6-seat minibar into something between 18 and 24 seats.

The principals are also discussing a plan to use the space for a THINKfoodTANK, a sort of test kitchen for Andres and his culinary team where they can work on menu creation and host events for visiting chefs, winemakers, and the like. Instead of hiding his experiments inside Jaleo's kitchens, or wherever Andres and his chefs meet, the THINKfoodTANK would put their genius on public display.

But if such a vision came to fruition, would there still be room for Cafe Atlantico at the same address?

"If the Cafe Atlantico concept is one that doesn't fit in this building," says Wilder, "then maybe we'd find another home for it."

Whatever they decide, Wilder said it could become reality within 14-18 months.

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