Vapiano, a fast-casual Italian-food chain from Germany, is set to open this November at 1221 Brickell Ave. Already huge in Europe, the chain boasts 45 locations in Germany alone. And there are 11 Vapianos in the States.
The concept is fresh fast food served in an upscale environment with cafeteria-style service. Diners choose pizza, pasta, panini, or salad and then visit the respective section of the restaurant, where the food is made to order while patrons watch. This allows guests to interact with the person cooking the food, and gives customers the chance to make special (or strange) requests.
What sets this place apart? One unique aspect is the payment method, which involves each diner receiving an RFID "chip card," which gets swiped at each station as the customer orders food. After the meal, patrons give the card to the cashier, who is strategically placed near the door to thwart dine-and-dashers.
As for the food, all pasta and pizza dough is made fresh daily in the restaurant's designated "manifattura" area. Herbs are grown at each table, and many locations grow all of their herbs in-house. Prices are reasonable; a quick glance at the menu from Florida's Vapiano location in Fort Myers reveals entrée prices ranging from $10 to $12.
Vapiano will definitely be a welcome addition to this culinary-bare stretch of Brickell Avenue. Let's hope they'll include a full bar; Brickellians definitely like to drink.