I just don’t understand — I can’t stop eating Urban Cookhouse, but it’s never crowded inside. As Park Road Shopping Center becomes inundated with hot new restaurants (hello, Shake Shack), it’s time for Urban Cookhouse to play offense.
At first glance, Urban Cookhouse seems completely forgettable. The urban chic interior is predictable. The “farm-to-table” messaging is boring. And the menu is your fairly straightforward fast-casual stuff.
But here’s the thing — the food and service are really good.
Urban Cookhouse’s food is healthy and fresh, and the portions are the perfect size.
My favorite dish is their lime-marinated steak served with rice, a garden salad and a signature warm orange roll. The steak is topped with onions and peppers. When I’m looking to mix it up, I go with their buffalo chicken wrap and broccoli salad as the side. I order a draft Juicy Jay to drink.
My wife orders the local mix salad with grilled chicken — applewood bacon, corn, hard-boiled egg, red onion, cheddar and our honey mustard vinaigrette. She orders a draft Captain Jack to drink.
Dishes cost about $10.
I love that they cook on the big green egg and you can taste the difference in the meat.
Most often, I’m at Urban Cookhouse with my 3-year-old son (he loves it there) and 1-year-old daughter. The Urban Cookhouse staff absolutely understand children and are always upbeat and accommodating. The service is excellent.
And as if that’s not enough, Urban Cookhouse has brought our table a free half-baked cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup the last dozen or so times we’ve been there as a family (yes, I go there a lot).
Urban Cookhouse has the hard stuff done — great food and great service — but they’ve got to start marketing aggressively to find their niche as Park Road Shopping Center restaurant options have now ballooned to 17 different desirable concepts.
In Park Road Shopping Center, you’ll find Amelie’s, Bruegger’s, Burton’s, Cantina 1511, Charlotte Cafe, CO, Chopt, Dot Dot Dot, Flour Shop, The Flying Biscuit, Subway, Juice Bar, Rocksalt, Sir Edmond Halley’s, Midwood Smokehouse — and now Shake Shack two doors down.
Oh, and Cava is coming in a few months.
And this doesn’t include Montford and Parktowne Shopping Center (across the street), both of which have a bunch of restaurant options.
Since Urban Cookhouse has the food and service to back it up, it’s all about driving new customers into the door. I’d be aggressively advertising the brand, expanding the kids eat free deal from Mondays to every day over the summer and doing free item giveaways (similar to Chick-Fil-A) with heavy promotion.
You have to spend money to make money, especially when you’ve got a killer product. Urban Cookhouse shouldn’t be a hidden gem, but it is.