American Eat Co. & Market’s opening weekend was spectacular. So spectacular that the food hall’s restaurants needed to close Monday to catch their breath.
Over last weekend — Friday through Sunday — the just-opened indoor food court with six restaurants, a coffee shop, bar, butcher shop/market and ice creamery served 5,100 customers.
That was nearly double the number American Eat Co. had anticipated would show up on opening weekend.
On Saturday alone, more than 1,800 people passed through the doors at 1439 S. Fourth Ave. to tuck into sliders and fries from The Bite, tacos and street food from Avenues Chicano Hood Eats or slices from Upper Crust Pizza. The restaurant turned over seven times, meaning it filled up to its 240-seat capacity.
The numbers blew away American Eat Co. co-owner Jesus Bonillas.
“It was like almost double and doubling. And Friday threw us out of the water. We did not expect that,” he said, noting that some of the interest was driven by media coverage, but most came from people who shared videos and photos of their experiences on social media.
“It’s real-time feeds on social media,” said Bonillas who with his partners operates the Market Bar and Dumb Fish poke restaurant inside American Eat Co. “All that does is build more momentum and people get excited and want to come and see it. People don’t fully understand it until they walk through the door.”
By the end of the weekend, most of the restaurants had run out of fresh meat, seafood and vegetables — suppliers don’t usually deliver on weekends — so Bonillas and the restaurant owners huddled Sunday and decided not to open on Monday.
“It was a learning curve,” he said. “We had a meeting with all the owners. We hired six or eight more people. We need full-time prep cooks all day so that they can continue to provide food for line cooks. It’s a little nuts.”
American Eat Co. was more than a year in the making by the time it opened April 3. The food court is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.