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Chef behind shuttered fast-casual concept plans to reopen it in 2024

Gerard Craft, James Beard Award-winning chef and owner of Niche Food Group, said the group has plans to reopen Porano in Des Peres in 2024.
Credit: Greg Rannells

ST. LOUIS — Porano Pasta, a popular fast-casual restaurant that shuttered in 2018, has plans to make a comeback next year.

Gerard Craft, James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef and owner of Niche Food Group, said the group has plans to reintroduce Porano to the St. Louis area in 2024.  Porano's first location has yet to be identified, but the group plans for it to be in Des Peres.

Porano Pasta opened in downtown St. Louis in 2016 and ran for two years before closing. Craft said at the time that the location had lost a lot of business in its last year due to the nearby convention center.

Craft said Niche Food Group has honed its knowledge of fast-casual operations in recent years, now with seven concepts across St. Louis and a restaurant in Nashville, as well as vendor operations CityPark stadium. He plans to use lessons from those projects to reignite the Porano concept.

“Guests loved Porano,” Craft said in a Thursday news release. “We still get comments to this day that people miss Porano and their go-to order. It’s something that I myself crave consistently. It has always been a thought to bring it back. We’ve grown and learned a lot over the past five years, and we feel that we now have the systems and operations in place as a restaurant group to execute Porano to its full potential.”

The food group said it has plans to open a total of three Porano locations in the coming years.

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