After years of developing fine-dining restaurants with a farm-to-table philosophy, chef Bradley Ogden is rolling out a series of decidedly more casual concepts with the same emphasis on ingredients.

Ogden, a James Beard Award–winning chef, is known as one of the founders of the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, the multiconcept operator of white-tablecloth restaurants like One Market in San Francisco and the Lark Creek Inn in the San Francisco Bay area. Separately, Ogden later opened the high-end restaurant Bradley Ogden at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas strip, which closed last year after a decade-long run.

Now, Ogden said his goal is to apply his vision for farm-to-fork dining to more accessible concepts. “It’s the trend. It’s what’s been happening over the last eight to 10 years,” he said. “There’s a whole opportunity in the arena of fast casual where chefs can be more of a presence.”

To kick off his vision, Ogden opened a fast-casual concept in Houston called Funky Chicken in December, featuring fried and roasted chicken, pot pies and buttermilk biscuits.

In late March, Ogden plans to open a second restaurant called Bradley’s Fine Diner, or BFD, in Houston, with elevated comfort food. Though considered a full-service concept, BFD will have every-day prices with a wood-burning grill and a great beer and wine selection, according to Ogden. A second location of BFD is scheduled to open Ogden’s home market of Menlo Park, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay area, in June.

Funky Chicken features all-natural, organic and humanely raised chicken (Photo credit: The Epicurean Publicist)Next up, in July, will come Ogden’s Pour Society, an upscale version of an American pub, also in Houston.

All three concepts are designed to grow, Ogden said, and all will be operated by the Menlo Park-based company Bradley Ogden Hospitality, which was created in 2012 by Ogden in partnership with his son Bryan Ogden, along with operations specialist Tony Angotti, a former food-and-beverage director for the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Bryan Ogden is a chef in his own right, having worked at Bradley Ogden, the restaurant, and as co-founder of Munch Bar at Caesars Palace, which he is still involved with separately.

Funky Chicken is the new company’s jumping off point. “It gives me an opportunity to showcase my approach and philosophy to a broader audience,” said Bradley Ogden.

The chicken used is all-natural, organic and humanely raised. Whole, half and quartered chicken pieces are available, along with “Funky Fingers,” or breaded tenders, served with housemade ranch dressing.

Guests order at a counter, and their food is delivered to the tables (Photo credit: The Epicurean Publicist)The menu also includes sandwiches, salads and sides, such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or roasted Brussels sprouts. Vegetarians can choose a Gardein chicken substitute.

The average check is about $10, without alcohol. The 70-seat restaurant is in the process of getting its beer and wine license.

Guests order at a counter, and their food is delivered to the tables. The company predicts takeout business will be strong, and guests can order family-style meals to feed up to “a small army.” An $80 package, for example, includes two whole chickens, 12 Funky Fingers, a large order of gravy, six large sides and 12 biscuits.

It has only been a few weeks, but so far Funky Chicken has exceeded expectations, according to Bradley Ogden.

The respective menus at BFD and Pour Society are still evolving, but the price point will fall more in casual dining territory, ranging from $8 to $18 at lunch and under $25 at dinner, except for a few more premium dishes, like a special fish or lamb chops, which might be priced higher.

Several other ideas are also in the works. The Ogdens are talking about a cooking school for kids, and Bradley Ogden Hospitality will also offer consulting services.

“It’s a start-up,” said Ogden. “Our goal is to expand and grow.”

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout