Say Hello to the Revamped Next Door Kitchen

Next Door American Eatery evolved from The Kitchen, the super-high-quality, sustainability-minded Pearl Street restaurant that helped put Boulder on the culinary map. And its looking to be the next…Applebee’s?

“I see Next Door as this generation’s Applebee’s, Chili’s or TGI Friday’s,” says Don Degnan, CEO of The Kitchen Restaurant Group. “It’s much different because of how we source the food, but it serves that purpose in people’s lives. It’s at a similar price point, it’s fast. We’re kind of that gathering place today.”

If you hit Next Door at, well, pretty much any time of day, you see that it is that sort of gathering place. Since it opened in the summer of 2011, the restaurant has developed its own identity outside of being an extension of The Kitchen. Yes, it shares that same obsessive micro-farm-to-table sourcing ethos, but its affordability and quick, comfortable atmosphere attract a broader range of eaters.

There are now 11 Next Doors around the country — seven are in Colorado — so the team decided it was time for a refresh to make it appeal to even more people. This involves not just a makeover for the Boulder restaurant and new catering offerings for events and meetings, but also the most significant menu change since it opened. After all, the way we eat is evolving (Keto! Paleo! Vegan! Gluten-free!), and so is technology. Food delivery apps have changed the game, and Next Door, which has its own app, has seen a large increase in to-go and takeaway orders.

“It’s moving so fast,” Degnan says of technology and its impact on the restaurant business. “It’s about asking, ‘What gets you out of the house today?’ We still want to get out and feel connected to people. We’re adding the technology, but we’re also doubling down on creating a great gathering place for people.”

Next Door Boulder’s remodel focused on energy and centering it on the food, drink, and, of course, the diners. Bright red patio chairs pop; a new bar highlights their progressing craft cocktail program; wood paneling and new tables add warmth; and the simple, sleek lighting brings the energy to the table, where it belongs.

As for the menu additions, Next Door will be doing what it’s been doing since the beginning — vegetable-forward, gluten-free-friendly, clean food — but pushed to next-level deliciousness and closer to its goal of achieving zero-waste restaurant status. New dishes are still being taste-tested, but the revised menu should launch in Boulder in late spring. (Don’t worry: the beet burger, roasted veggie bowl, chicken bites, and many other current favorites, aren’t going anywhere.)

“We’re building the menu based on how people eat,” Degnan says. “In Colorado people are active, we’re outside, we care about what we put in our bodies. It’s food you can trust. We have really clean food — and we try not to be preachy about it.”

Potential new menu items include a bun-less keto burger with two patties, a fried egg, cheddar, bacon and avocado; a paleo bowl of chicken, avocado and cauliflower rice; sheet tray nachos (so every chip gets the perfect amount of toppings); crispy cauliflower with dipping sauces; Baja shrimp tacos; and a Mediterranean burger made with a 50/50 cremini mushroom and beef blend and topped with olive tapenade, roasted red peppers, and feta.

Something for everyone, all served in a casual, comfortable environment. It does sound like an Applebee’s, except this gathering place’s commitment to whole, unprocessed foods, inclusive eating and earth-friendliness goes beyond the typical chains. This new version of Next Door fits into everyone’s lives.