Dual-identity restaurants: one thing by day, another by night

The restaurant business is adapting to consumer habits, to tourists’ customs and also to the tastes of new consumers, fine-tuning their culinary offering and the concept of the establishment according to the time of day.

Is a customer looking for the same thing at lunchtime as in the evening? Probably not. This is what a large number of restaurateurs must have concluded when they decided to split their culinary and conceptual offering according to the time of day. There are options for every taste: a simple change of menu, different tableware, different lighting, another style and even a different name for the business.
The book Culinary Action! (Planeta Gastro. 2017) by Joxe Mari Aizega and Marta Fernández Guadaño, reveals some real-life examples of restaurants that have implemented this concept, having attended the seminars organised by the Basque Culinary Center over the last two years. But there are many other variations of the ‘dual-identity’ concept in the rest of the country. Here we take a look at some of the possibilities and differences between them.

Opening hours to suit every taste

The key to the successful operation of some of these businesses lies in the changing eating habits of their clients, who are now looking for open-all-day kitchens; at the same time, establishments located in tourist areas that have adapted to the different eating times of foreign visitors are also enjoying success.

One of the restaurants that since 2009 has been adapting to its customers by changing its concept according to the time of day is Abastos 2.0 (in the food market of Santiago de Compostela), owned by Marcos Cerqueiro and Iago Pazos. In this tiny establishment of just 28 square metres, the bar serves as a shared table. The offering varies according to the time of day: snacks, lunch, early dinner, dinner or private sessions. Prices range between 30 and 50 euros. Indeed, the flexible times are one of the keys to its success. Santiago de Compostela is a city that attracts a lot of tourists and yet its range of restaurants is fairly classic, so a place like that offered by Cerqueiro and Pazos stands out very quickly.

Haute cuisine also mutates from morning to night. Numerous restaurants are offering a lunchtime menu to suit the busy routine of business executives, while at night concentrating on a culinary offering more focused on sybaritic enjoyment. An example is Kena, belonging to Luis Arévalo (Diego de León, 11. Madrid), whose Nikkei culinary offering comes in two different formats. People looking for top quality but fast service can opt for the 35 euro lunchtime menu served at the bar. For businesspeople, Kena offers an executive menu from Tuesday to Friday (lunchtime only, from 13:30 to 16:00): a gourmet concept aimed at lunches with a more professional approach, fewer courses and swifter service.

At night, with the 70-euro Omakase menu, the chef himself decides what to serve depending on what’s available at the market.

On 27 November, Javier Muñoz-Calero, the executive chef at NuBel restaurant, took part in the Madrid Hospitality Forum on kitchen management. This is an important factor for this establishment, which adjusts its offering according to the time of day. The restaurant, housed in the Nouvel Building of the Reina Sofía National Art Museum, offers a bistro concept at midday with more affordable prices for tourists and even businesspeople working in the area. At night, the establishment turns into a gourmet haven with a more exclusive menu

Another example of different gastronomic options is Brasserie Narciso (Almagro, 32. Madrid). It has a main menu, a breakfast menu, a cocktail menu and a snacks menu. Open all day (from 8 am to 2 am) in classic European style, this is a concept you might easily find in London, Paris or Brussels. Top quality cooking in a vibrant setting.

A way of being different

As well as the purely practical aspect (changes in customer habits and tourists’ customs), some businesses also aim to surprise their customers with changing concepts so they can visit at both lunchtime and dinnertime yet have the feeling of visiting two completely different spaces. For the most open-minded consumers, this is a very attractive option.

Muta (Ponzano, 10. Madrid) was one of the pioneers in Spain in playing with different concepts within the same premises. Opened in summer 2014 by Javier Bonet, also known for his famous Sala de Despiece, Muta has taken on five different guises during its first 15 months of life: Muta Norte, Muta Equilibrio, Muta Brasil, Muta Balear and Smoking Club, the name it currently operates under. This could be the genesis of other concepts that might even mutate during the same day.

Casa Bonay, run by Estanis Carenzo and Pablo Giudice, the creators of the Bestiario Group, opened in 2016 within the Hotel Casa Bonay in Barcelona. The multi-concept space created for the occasion offers two options, one at lunchtime and another in the evening. At lunchtime it is the modern Vietnamese tavern, Têt (20-25 euros). And at night it turns into Elephant Crocodile Monkey, a restaurant serving contemporary cuisine (40-45 euros).

According to Marta Fernández Guadaño, ‘in the evenings, intimate lighting replaces the natural daylight and enhances the change in atmosphere, menu and concept.’

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