The 50 Coolest New Businesses In America
Year after year, cities across America continue to surprise us with new, innovative, and downright awesome businesses.
This year we've already brought you the coolest new businesses in Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco, and now we've gone nationwide, finding the hottest restaurants, boutiques, startups, and everything in between across the U.S.
There's a corner store with a bike-through window, a mobile shop that sells vintage clothing from a 1960s trailer, America's first pizza museum, and a Chinese restaurant that serves dumplings that look like Pac-Man characters.
Some of the businesses are based in brick and mortar stores, while others—like food trucks and mobile shops—sell their wares on wheels. We've also included several online-only businesses.
From San Francisco to New York (and everywhere in between), we've found the coolest new businesses in America that opened or expanded within the last year and a half. Email MNisen@if we left off your favorite.
What it is: An inventive new restaurant from former Lazy Ox chef Josef Centeno.
Why it's cool: The restaurant is named for, but is definitely not limited to, one of the chef's wildly popular and signature creations, the baco, described as a "hybrid taco-gyro thing" with fillings like pork belly, beef carnitas, and oxtail hash. Other dishes include Caesar-style Brussels sprouts, sauteed peaches, and coffee-charred rib eye.
What it is: Bacon-centric food truck.
Why it's cool: Bacon Bacon comes in the form of a food truck and a brick-and-mortar restaurant. And both serve, yep—you guessed it—all things bacon.
The Bacon Bacon Truck rolls around San Francisco distributing six bacon-friendly sandwiches, including a pork meatball banh mi and grilled cheese, as well as french fries and root beer. Bacon Bacon also sells a bacon bouquet and chocolate-covered bacon.
What it is: A new brand of mustache wax.
Why it's cool: The man known as Jeremiah Newton, who also sports an impressive face full of hair, started Bearded Bastard to help soften the burliest of beards and tame the unruliest of mustaches. Products so far include the Woodsman mustache wax and Woodsman beard oil, but the new Austin-based company is developing many new man-inspired oils and tonics, which will be available soon.
What it is: An iPhone case and tracker system.
Why it's cool: A product of Treehouse Labs, BiKN turns your iPhone into a tracker for all the things that are important to you—pets, keys, bags, or anything really. The tracker is mostly run out of an app, but it is based on your use of the protective iPhone case and the BiKN tags. The case tracks your things even when your phone’s battery dies and the color-coded BiKN tags attach to the things you want to track.
Brightside Boutique & Tattoo
What it is: A fashion boutique and tattoo art studio.
Why it's cool: Passersby recognize Brightside by its sunny, yellow shopfront. Named Baltimore's best boutique in Baltimore Magazine, Brightside sells edgy, fashion-forward clothing, shoes, and accessories. Partners Christie Griffiths and Kike (Kee-Kay) Castillo run the operation together, with Griffiths focusing on the fashion and Castillo on the tats.
What it is: A cool new bike company in Brooklyn.
Why it's cool: Brooklyn Cruiser believes in elegant, simple, and affordable bicycles. "We don't believe in cutting corners in our design or offering inferior bikes and charging a fortune for better components," says their website. They sell three-speed men's and women's cruiser-style bicycles, along with bike accessories like different seats, handlebar grips, and reflectors.
The Catbird Seat
What it is: An exclusive restaurant with a menu that changes every night.
Why it’s cool: Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson opened The Catbird Seat so that "we could cook what we wanted to cook, and cook it ourselves." The menu each night varies based on what's fresh, both in terms of ingredients and inspiration. Selections in the past have included pressed duck, hot chicken skin, porcini and parmesan Oreos, and bourbon balls.
What it is: A startup that provides analytics for Pinterest.
Why it's cool: Images drive the web, and smart businesses need to take advantage of visual platforms like Pinterest to connect with their customers. Curalate allows companies to actually measure the impact they're having on Pinterest using image recognition algorithms.
What it is: Fully customizable, high quality Neapolitan-style pizza.
Why it's cool: From the owner of the incredibly popular Umami Burger chain, 800 Degrees is an entirely new take on the pizza restaurant. It's almost closer to a sandwich shop, where customers add a series of optional toppings like Fra' Mani salami, an egg, or truffle cheese. Or pick one of the pre-made pies and see it baked and ready within minutes.
What it is: Modern American cuisine with molecular gastronomy flourishes.
Why it's cool: Opened by an alum of the highly regarded LaCroix and Blackfish in Philadelphia's Queen's Village neighborhood, Ela is regarded as one of the best new restaurants in Philadelphia.
Chef Jason Cichonski produces innovative dishes like diver scallop "noodles" with shiitake-marsala sauce and pickled golden raisins.
What it is: A micro-restaurant named one of the best in Chicago.
Why it’s cool: EL has only one seating a night at a communal table. Dining here is an interactive experience, with each of the dishes explained by the chef and his small staff. If the idea of eating with 16 or so strangers makes you nervous, the food might convince you otherwise. Recent inventive dishes include "cherries" (pictured; which are made from sea grapes, katsuobushi and umeboshi) and "French Fries and Ice Cream" (potato with leeks and vanilla).
What it is: A classic donut shop with some outrageous flavor combinations.
Why it's cool: Federal Donuts is known for its unique and outrageous flavors like spicy peanut butter and jelly, maple bacon, and white chocolate pretzel. Their classic cake donuts are simple and are covered in either strawberry-, vanilla spice-, or Turkish mocha-flavored sugar. They also serve a mean fried chicken. The shop comes from Michael Solomonov, who cooks at the modern Israeli restaurant Zahav, one of the best restaurants in the city.
What it is: A dynamic, full-service creative firm focused on developing brands within the entertainment and hospitality industries.
Why it’s cool: 50 Eggs has worked on some really cool projects. It owns and operates the award-winning restaurant Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. It has been commissioned to create a new visual identity and uniform for the Miami Heat and has developed a Hall of Fame book commemorating NBA legend and executive Pat Riley. And the company has designed merchandise artwork and logos for musician Tim McGraw.
50 Eggs' reputation has garnered international recognition, with job seekers enlisting the aid of viral online videos to get the company’s attention.
Freeman's Sporting Club and F.S.C. Barber
What it is: Barber shop/clothing store combo.
Why it's cool: The first F.S.C. store outside of New York devotes 70 percent of its space to an old-fashioned barber shop. The space also houses a Freemans Sporting Club shop, which sells menswear and bespoke suit services. The store pays homage "to the days when the highest level of care and customer service was de rigueur," according to the company's website.
What it is: A curated online marketplace for local and vintage furniture.
Why it’s cool: Anyone who's had a bad experience with Craigslist can see where the idea came from. Furnishly makes the process of finding and buying great furniture from individuals and a variety of partner stores easier and more reliable.
Gangs of San Francisco
What it is: A designer shop honoring San Francisco's history.
Why it's cool: The one-man operation, run by Laureano Faedi, relies on San Francisco's vibrant past for design inspiration. Faedi's shirts and sweatshirts feature scenes highlighting everything from Playland at the Beach to the area's minor league baseball scene. The shop, Faedi's first, was created from recycled wood and old whiskey and wine cases.
What it is: A website that sends three new fitted dress shirts to men every month or few months.
Why it's cool: Hall&Madden is attempting to provide a cheaper, more convenient alternative for male professionals shopping for shirts. The high-quality shirts cost around $50 (including shipping), are hand-picked by the company's stylists, and are sent every one, two, three, or four months.
Hop Sing Laundromat
What it is: High-end cocktail bar.
Why it's cool: After months of changing dates, Hop Sing Laundromat opened in July and was one of the most hyped openings in Philadelphia in a while. Despite some very specific rules, a strict no-photo policy and a dress code, it's one of the hottest bars in the city. The bar serves quirky artisanal cocktails like the Nevermore, a mixture of Vietnamese coffee, Ambler gin, Patron Citrónge, and a float of cream. All cocktails cost just $10, despite the fact that the bar has the most expensive well liquor in America.
JoJo & Sofia
What it is: An online platform that makes spending and earning money safer and more fun.
Why it's cool: Kurrenci is an online platform that is partnering up with local, national, and global e-commerce sites to make money more valuable, safer and more convenient by using “kurrenci,” almost like points, as money. You can use it to buy things, give gifts, and donate to charity.
What it is: Madame Zuzu’s is a 1930s-style Chinese tea house which opened in mid-September 2012.
Why it’s cool: Zuzu’s was started by Billy Corgan, frontman of the Smashing Pumpkins. Patrons who visited the tea house for its grand opening on September 13th were able to meet Corgan and hear him play some acoustic sets.
What it is: A French bakery on the Upper East Side.
Why it's cool: Maison Kayser, marked in New York by the orange bicycle that sits out front, is an import from Paris with some incredible baguettes and pastries. The patisserie is divided into two sections: the over-the-counter bakery area serving fresh pastries and breads, and the seating-only cafe where you can order a cafe au lait with your pain au chocolat.
What it is: The first North American outlet of a popular Parisian clothing boutique and music label.
Why it's cool:Located at the NoMad hotel and modeled after Paris's seventh arrondissemont, the boutique carries its own namesake fashion line, as well as designs from designers like Michael Vivien and Andre Saraiva. The music label has released albums from popular electronic artists like Hot Chip and Digitialism.
Matthew Marks Gallery
What it is: The first L.A. outpost of an iconic New York gallery, located in West Hollywood.
Why it's cool: Matthew Marks Gallery has been a Chelsea stalwart for many years, but the L.A. outpost is very distinct, with an exterior designed by Ellsworth Kelly, one of the gallery's well-known artists. Recently, Jasper Johns debuted a well-received series of works at this gallery.
What it is: A mobile vintage shop. You can also buy online.
Why it's cool: Merry May sells quality, vintage items—clothing for men and women and home goods—from their 1961 Shasta Airflyte travel trailer. Each piece of clothing they sell has a story behind it.
What it is: A restaurant for the adventurous eater.
Why it’s so cool: Renowned chef Jose Andres’ newly re-opened and redesigned restaurant operates with a tasting menu-only format. Originally a six-seat bar tucked in the corner of the second floor of his restaurant Café Atlántico, minibar made its grand debut on November 7th as a unique, singular space. The Spanish inspired bite-sized dishes blur the line between science and cuisine with molecular gastronomy.
What it is: A cool outdoor bar and restaurant practically underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge.
Why it's cool: Morgan's pier looks like an old wharf with a modern twist. The bar throws cool parties that are reminiscent of backyard cookouts; one of the cool events is guest chef happy hour night, when local chefs take over the kitchen and cook their own cuisine.
What it is: A new, more casual restaurant from Michelin three-star chef Daniel Humm.
Why it's cool: NoMad lets people experience Daniel Humm's food without paying the steeper prices at his flagship 11 Madison Park, which is considered one of the best restaurants in the city. One of the most popular dishes is the roast chicken for two stuffed with brioche, foie gras, and truffles.
On nice days, you can eat a five-course meal outdoors at the hotel's extremely popular rooftop bar.
Nostra Style House Phoenix
What it is: A contemporary women's clothing store in downtown Phoenix.
Why it's cool: Nostra Style House "offers a unique selection of contemporary women's clothing that inspires the aesthetic of every fashionista," says their Facebook page.
Their clothing is fun, frilly, and feminine, and shopping here feels like you're browsing a fashionable friend's closet.
What it is: A contemporary American restaurant in Dallas's Design District.
Why it's cool: Oak is regarded as one of the city's best new restaurants. Chef Jason Maddy has impressed diners with modern and carefully-plated dishes like Moroccan octopus with pork jowls and Wagyu beef cheek with spaetzle. Almost all of the furniture comes from the restaurant's own neighborhood, Dallas's increasingly trendy Design District.
What it is: A seafood restaurant and oyster bar.
Why it's cool: Chef Ford Fry focuses on seasonal dishes with the freshest ingredients available. The seafood is high-quality and sustainable from the country's best suppliers. The Optimist also serves beach-food classics like hush puppies and lobster rolls, which you can order with an extensive selection of wines and beers.
What it is: An eclectic bakery in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood.
They opened their first storefront in May which offers their full selection of goods, including salted chocolate chip cookies and jelly donut muffins.
Paradise 4 Paws
What it is: A 24/7 pet hotel option that lets you pick up and drop off your pet at the airport.
Why it's cool: The ultimate in convenience. In addition to providing particularly luxurious accommodations for your pet, Paradise 4 Paws will send a chauffeur to drop you off at the airport, park your car, then pick you up at baggage claim when you return, before bringing you back to their site so that you can pick up your pet.
What it is: A sandwich shop with refined takes on Italian classics.
Why it's cool: Already massively acclaimed for their fine-dining restaurant Torrisi Italian Specialties, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone opened Parm so they could showcase some of the simpler food they grew up with. Some of the classic sandwiches include chicken and eggplant parm, elevated by the best techniques and ingredients, and daily specials like fried chicken cacciatore.
The Patterson House
What it is: A speakeasy-style bar for hand-crafted cocktails.
Why it’s cool: At The Patterson House, mixologists create handcrafted classic cocktails with all different kinds of spirits, house-made syrups and bitters, and eight different types of twice-filtered ice. The bar also offers the barrel-aged Solera Manhattan, which includes Jim Beam Rye, Corsair Spiced Rum, Carpano Antica Vermouth and Angostura bitters, aged in two different used Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey barrels. The result is a unique flavor combination of rich dried fruits, vanilla, spice and a smoky finish.
What it is: The nation's first pizza museum.
Why it's cool: Pizza Brain was started by Brian Dwyer, a pizza lover with such a large collection of pizza paraphernalia that he was able to fill a whole store—and it's now America's first pizza museum. Located in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood, Pizza Brain officially has the world's largest collection of pizza memorabilia, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Pizza Brain is also a pizzeria, and a really good one at that.
What it is: A bespoke suit service now available in 12 major cities.
Why it's cool: Already a hit in Silicon Valley, Proper Suit takes the hassle and pretentiousness out of great custom-made suits.
Once you've been measured by one of the company's tailors, all you need to do is send a photo or explanation of what you're looking for and the team will get to work.
What it is: A creative, high-end Chinese restaurant in Manhattan's West Village neighborhood.
Why it's cool: RedFarm brings you innovative, Chinese dishes presented in a very whimsical, playful manner. Check out, for example, the Pac-Man ghost dumplings with the sesame seed eyes. The restaurant is a collaboration between dim sum master chef Joe Ng, who is Chinese by birth, and restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld, who is Chinese by calling.
What it is: An upscale resort with dining, shopping, and casino games.
Why it's cool: The elegant, contemporary Revel resort in Atlantic City is a vacation all by itself. Right on the water, guests can visit the thrilling Ultra Lounge and casino for poker or slot machines. The Revel is home to the Amada, a Spanish tapas-style restaurant. The resort also features regular concerts by popular musicians, like Kanye West.
What is is: A spirited new restaurant in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Why it's cool: NOLA's fine cuisine makes itself known at SoBou, which stands for South of Bourbon Street. The restaurant offers a menu of classic Cajun-style New Orleans dishes with a Latin twist, such as shrimp and tasso pinchos.
What it is: An app that allows people to find and reserve parking spots in Chicago.
Why it’s cool: Parking in Chicago can be, well, difficult. SpotHero allows users to view rates, get deals and reserve spots wherever they might be headed in Chicago. Users can just flash their phone at a partner garage and park. The app also takes some of the agitation out of parking at giant events.
What it is: A permanent pop-up retail shop in Chelsea whose merchandise is always different.
Why it's cool: The Chelsea shop has changing exhibits that are meant to provoke and inspire. Formerly known as A Startup Store, the vendors tell their stories through the products they sell. For example, last February the theme was "love," bringing vendors selling non-traditional Valentine's Day items such as glittered Toms shoes and Jambox speakers, plus an in-store photo booth.
What it is: A restaurant serving unfussy tavern-inspired food.
Why it’s cool: Sunshine Tavern is meant to be a warm gathering place for family, friends and everyone in between. The Tavern is home to vintage Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong video games, and a 14-foot shuffleboard table. Sunshine Tavern is a former machine-shop-turned-restaurant, with a comfortable yet edgy open kitchen and a bar made from reclaimed bowling lanes. Chef Jenn Louis offers tavern-inspired food with fine, seasonal ingredients, which pairs well with the bar's twists on classic cocktails.
What it is: A waterfront restaurant named Boston's best new arrival by Boston Magazine.
Why it's cool: The newest restaurant from celebrated chef Jody Adams is on the ground floor of Boston's Atlantic Wharf, and has already received a nomination for a James Beard Award. Specialties include spicy lamb-sausage flatbreads, grilled and fried squid salad with beans, olives, and vinegar peppers, and whole roasted trout.
What it is: A new high-end restaurant in Houston.
Why it's cool: The menu often changes based on what's available from the suppliers, meaning the ingredients and dishes are always fresh. The product of chef Chris Shepherd, Underbelly is called "The Story of Houston Food," and offers dishes as diverse as the cultures and neighborhoods represented in Houston.
What it is: A new specialty boutique in New York's NoLita neighborhood.
Why it's cool: Warm carries a wide selection of art, clothing, accessories, and gifts curated by husband and wife team Winnie Beattie and Rob Magnotta. The eclectic boutique includes chic Parisian labels, but is also inspired by surf culture. They sell some very unique accessories made out of things found in nature, like antlers, driftwood, and sections of tree trunk.
The Wet Whistle
What it is: A corner store that goes above and beyond for East Austin residents.
Why it's cool: Wet Whistle isn't your typical corner grocery. In addition to staples, the store has great espresso, farmers market produce, vegan snacks and aguas frescas. The store knows its hip clientele: it even has a bike-through window for people looking for groceries or coffee on the go.
What it is: A full-service apparel manufacturing facility near Austin.
Why it's cool: White Star can put together single garments for one person, or a run of several hundred for a local designer. It serves as a sort of incubator for designers, with studio space and staff available to help move from sales sample to final production.
Wilson & Wilson
What it is: Private speakeasy in the library of Bourbon and Branch.
Why it's cool: Wilson & Wilson takes exclusive to a whole new level. Would-be patrons have to reserve a spot online and are escorted into the speakeasy through a series of password-protected hallways. Only 28 patrons can visit at a time. Drinks are served as a $40 tasting menu that includes the aperitif, the main drink, and the digestif.
What it is: A comprehensive, independent video game store in L.A.'s Koreatown.
Why it's cool: A comparative rarity in the world of video games, World 8 is independent of the large chains. It offers a huge variety of recently released games, as well as classics from older systems, and a variety of hardware and collectibles. They also host a variety of tournaments and events.