pizza from the former porano photo by carmen troesser

Niche Food Group to reopen Porano Pasta in Des Peres in spring 2024

Niche Food Group will revive its fast-service Porano Pasta concept in a new, as-yet unconfirmed location in Des Peres in March 2024. 

Although Porano’s original run downtown lasted only around a year and a half, Gerard Craft said the restaurant had its share of successes and remains much missed. “We get more comments to our group about bringing back Porano than we do about bringing back our original flagship, Niche,” he said. “A lot of people still remember their order very well.”

Those customers Craft cites who still remember their orders to the letter will be pleased to know that the new Porano will offer more or less the same menu as the original iteration, including customizable bowls, signature bowls and Detroit pizza. As with the original Porano, the new restaurant will offer online ordering and pickup.

Craft said that the idea to bring Porano back has always been there “on the back burner,” and that Niche had learned a lot from the restaurant’s original iteration. “There was a lot we didn't understand I think about fast food at the time,” he said. “I don't think we totally understood what was important to our customers.” Craft said working on projects like the food hall at City Foundry STL and the City Flavor program at St. Louis City SC’s CityPark stadium over the past few years has helped him gain valuable insights into the systems and processes that make fast-service concepts work more efficiently. Craft is confident these behind the scenes tweaks will be instrumental to Porano’s success in its new location. “We're smarter, we're wiser, we know how to execute differently,” he said.  

Porano’s original location at 634 Washington Ave. in downtown St. Louis closed in July 2018. Hi-Pointe Drive-In eventually opened in that space. At the end of 2016, Sauce named Porano Pasta No. 6 on our list of Best New Restaurants for that year. Meera Nagarajan hailed Porano as “the fast-casual restaurant we have been waiting for,” giving customers seemingly limitless combinations of proteins, toppings and sauces and combining healthy eating with comfort food like the Detroit pizza.

Niche Food Group owner Gerard Craft made the announcement on the latest episode of Josh Allen’s Baked-In Podcast. Craft said he had “leaked” the news while discussing the importance of failure. “Failure is the No. 3 value out of our five values in our company,” he said. “We look at failure as equity and capital – these are things that we have that nobody else owns … Our company is constantly looking back and saying, ‘Why didn’t that pan out? Could we do that better?’”