After a swanky New Years Eve celebration, Mina Test Kitchen will temporarily pull the plug on its constantly rotating restaurant incubator in the Marina. It debuted a year and a half ago as a blank canvas for chef Michael Mina and his team to test out new ideas for restaurants in a short-term capacity, starting with a Mediterranean menu and ending with Mi Almita on December 31.
This is not the end of the road for the test kitchen, however. Mina says he aims to reopen with a new test kitchen idea in four months, when the dust has settled on his restaurant group’s glut of new projects. Those include several spinoffs of test kitchen concepts, including International Smoke with Ayesha Curry, Cal Mare in Los Angeles, and an upcoming restaurant with Hugo Ortega. Others, like Nana Lu’s (a spinoff of the Little Italy concept) have opened in smaller venues, as part of Mina’s Honolulu food hall, The Street.
“Frankly, we don’t have the time for it right now,” Mina told Eater. “And, we don’t have our next one lined up. The magic of it has been that we’ve done it the right way every time: We took our time, researched, and had great chef partners with great chemistry.” Mina says there are four or five concepts on the table, but that they’re waiting for all the right pieces to come together before launching another pseudo-restaurant.
In the meantime, there will be some very short-term pop-ups, possibly including Diane Mina’s Bloody Mary bar for a week or two. “The MINA Test Kitchen is an incredible place and experience for us — having the opportunity to not only test dishes, but entire concepts is a luxury most chefs don’t have,” said Mina, who added that they’re committed to the test kitchen format and have no plans to turn the space into a static restaurant.
Stay tuned for news on pop-ups, and future concepts.