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curtis-stone-picnic-society.jpg Photo courtesy of Clay Larsen/ Photo courtesy of Wonho Frank Lee
Celebrity chef Curtis Stone's picnic menu includes a classic lobster roll.

Curtis Stone opens picnic-themed popup, Picnic Society, designed for the pandemic era of dining

Picnic Society will have a four-month residency in Los Angeles and offer pre-made picnic packages with baskets stuffed with charcuterie, sandwiches, and more

As indoor dining restrictions remain in place throughout most of the country, operators have had to get creative with solutions for enticing customers again. Michelin-starred chef Curtis Stone opened picnic-themed restaurant Picnic Society by Gwen on September 14 for a four-month residency at Los Angeles’ mostly outdoor lifestyle center The Grove. The restaurant — which will be opening in the space formerly occupied by Dominique Ansel Bakery — is an offshoot of Stone’s butcher shop/restaurant Gwen in Hollywood and is both a full-service restaurant and a to-go market.

The grab-and-go menu features European-style salads, sandwiches, cheeses, and charcuterie for an average check of $12, which customers can order à la carte or choose a “one-stop shop” picnic package that comes with pre-made baskets of food, small tables, blankets, and cutlery for customers to sit al fresco on the restaurant’s covered outdoor patio or second-floor terrace, The Grove’s expansive lawn, or wherever they happen to prefer picnicking.

The sit-down dining menu includes continental classics like steak frites, grilled lobster, salad niçoise, burgers and cured meats for an average entrée price of $24. The desserts are mostly portable jarred creations, so they can also be taken on a picnic outing.

The pop-up picnic-themed restaurant was inspired by the picnic societies of the 19th century, and Stone envisioned the restaurant as a (temporary) solution for diners looking for some socially distant food experiences.

Courtesy of CarusoThe Grove_Courtesy of Caruso.jpg

The Grove in Los Angeles

“During these past few months, there’s certainly been a shift to and preference for marketplaces and takeout models and Picnic Society by Gwen addresses that with its picnic concept,” Stone said. “Things have changed in recent months, including the way we can enjoy food in a social setting. Seeing all the new behaviors of communities grappling with this change, and with dining al fresco currently being the safest option, I wanted to create a way for guests to do so at ease without compromising the experience.”

The space itself is conducive to social distancing and encourages diners to sit wherever they want and create their own space, as opposed to being confined to a typical dining room layout. But even with these social distancing encouragements, all Picnic Society staff will be wearing masks, face shields and gloves and following all city and state procedures.

Stone declined to comment on whether he would extend their four-month stay at The Grove or find a more permanent home for his al fresco concept.

“I’m always looking for ways to expand our offerings and service the community,” he said. “For now, I’m hoping Picnic Society by Gwen inspires people to gather in responsible ways with delicious food and great company.”

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi


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