Melting Pot Restaurants Inc. will launch not one, but two new restaurant concepts next year.
Both are partnerships between Mark and Bob Johnston, the Tampa brothers who control the 142-store fondue restaurant chain, and Clearwater chef Chris Ponte of the popular Cafe Ponte.
It’s an expanded role for Ponte, who has been a consultant developing the fare for GrillSmith, the Johnstons’ sit-down casual dining chain that opens its sixth Tampa Bay location in Westfield Brandon Town Center on Tuesday.
Both new concepts â€” which are being groomed as Melting Pot’s third and fourth brands for future franchising â€” will be a fast-casual setup similar to Panera Bread that caters to more sophisticated tastes at a value price. Both are designed to get a third of their business from takeout. The average ticket would be $5 to $15, about $10 less than GrillSmith, which has a full bar and table service.