Ensemble, a food hall only selling items for contactless pickup and delivery, is scheduled to open Wednesday at 4856 Cordell Ave. in Bethesda.
Ensemble is the latest concept by Salis Holdings, a Washington, D.C., company that operates multiple restaurants including Ted’s Bulletin, Federalist Pig and Sidekick Bakery. It also owns the future restaurant Honeymoon Chicken.
At Ensemble, customers can order items from four separate menus for each restaurant using a mobile application.
Federalist Pig, a barbecue restaurant, includes offerings on its Ensemble menu such as a pulled pork sandwich ($13.50) and a brisket sandwich ($15.89). It has sharable entrees such as smokey chicken wings ($7).
The Ted’s Bulletin offerings include a cheeseburger ($15.29) and a crab cake sandwich ($16.29), as well as all-day breakfast items such as French toast ($11.99) and chopped brisket hash ($14.89).
Honeymoon Chicken’s menu includes both a fried and spicy chicken sandwich, for $13.49 and $13.95. It also has a shareable hot honey cauliflower dish for $6.50, in which the cauliflower is fried and tossed in the restaurant’s “signature hot honey.”
The Sidekick Bakery menu features a selection of tarts and cookies, each for $4.
Nick Salis, the senior vice president of operations for Salis Holdings, said in an interview on March 20 that the idea for Ensemble came from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fact that pickup and delivery have become such popular dining options.
Salis said Ensemble consolidates many of Salis Holdings’ restaurants under one roof by letting people order food for pickup and delivery from a central point.
“The dilemma when you’re sitting at home is, ‘Well, I want ribs from Federalist Pig and I want a breakfast burrito from Ted’s Bulletin and we have to order from separate places.’ Well, we’re here to solve that problem,” he said.
“When you’re stuck at home and you think about the experience of cuisine and the ordering process, we really wanted to fill a gap in that.”
When a customer orders food through the app, an employee enters the customer’s contact information into a database, Salis explained. He said the food will be ready in about 15 minutes. Customers are notified on the app that their order is ready.
When customers come into the restaurant, they retrieve their order from a locker by placing their phone under a scanner outside the lockers. The scanner then reads a code that the customer received from the app, and the locker containing their meal opens.
Salis said the contactless experience is ideal for the pandemic, when customers don’t want to interact with employees. Alternatively, Ensemble delivers within a three-mile radius, he said.
All of the food is made in house, in a kitchen where an executive chef from each of Salis Holdings’ brands is working, he said.
Salis explained that different parts of the kitchen are designated for preparing different foods from each of the brands. Then, all items in a particular order are packaged on a table in the center of the kitchen.
“Let’s say you’re ordering ribs from Federalist Pig and French toast from Ted’s [and] a crispy chicken sandwich from Honeymoon. It’ll all come in [to the table], [we’ll] package the order here and then go to the lockers for guests to pick up,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org