Upscale Diner and a Wine Bar Opening in Crossroads Late Spring

The Small Axe will serve classic diner-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners.(Rendering by Helix)

Two new culinary concepts by Howard Hanna, the former co-owner and chef at The Rieger, are scheduled to open late this spring in the Crossroads as part of the City Club apartment development.

Small Axe, an upscale diner-style restaurant, is planned for the corner of 20th and Main. it will feature breakfast, lunch and dinner, and include a rooftop and street level patio, according to a press release.

A wine bar and café called Afi is in the works for 1989 Main St. It will feature natural, sustainable wines and a menu that includes international cuisine from North America, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The establishments are being opened by Manaia Collective a new restaurant group from Hanna. The new venture at City Club was first announced in late 2020. In the meantime, The Rieger did not reopen after closing because of the Covid pandemic.

Afi will serve sustainable, natural wines with international cuisine. (Rendering by Helix)

Hanna is partnering with Kyle Gardner, who co-founded The Rieger and Manifesto with him, on the new venture at City Club.

Both see Small Axe and Afti as an opportunity to re-imagine the structure, pay, work environment, and sustainability of the restaurant industry, according to the release.

“Cooking and hospitality are my passions, but so much about the kitchen culture I
grew up in was inequitable and unhealthy,” Hanna said in a statement. “I’m really glad to see the industry making positive changes now.

“The pandemic really felt like a hard reset in my life, and I’m excited for this opportunity to do things differently and better moving forward.”

Gardner said Manaia Collective believes in improving the work environment for restaurant workers.

Small Axe will be located at 20th and Main and feature a street-level and rooftop patio. (Rendering by Helix)

“We believe that every hospitality worker has the right to a living wage, healthcare, benefits, and work/life balance, along with a safe and healthy work environment,” he said in a statement.

One of the key features at Manaia will be a worker owned cooperative, where employees have the option to share ownership in the business, and participate in the daily
business decisions, according to the release.

“Our vision is to have a group of empowered people work together towards a goal of
sustainability,” Gardner said in a statement.

The atmosphere planned for Small Axe was described as “bright and buzzy, lively and upbeat, and a great meeting place.”

Afi, which also will feature a rooftop and street-level patio, will feature open-fire cooking in a hearth oven. The release describes the menu as an approach to food with a “deep respect and quest for learning.”

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