Byte, a new restaurant opening Wednesday in the Warehouse District, has nearly as many sides as the dice with its board games. More than just a geeky bar, the lunch spot, coffee shop and late-night hangout offers a diverse menu and a model based on a living wage for its employees.
Travis Shaw and Mark Lowman, Byte’s owners and resident geek-chefs, have split the former Insomnia Nightclub space on 1st Avenue, located across the street from the Fine Line Music Café, into two areas: a minimalist café space in the front and a poster-clad, chaotically colorful backroom with a bar and board games. Members of just about any fandom will be at home at the reference-laden Byte, from “Fallout” wastelanders to “Doctor Who” Whovians.
Shaw and Lowman, two former hotel cooks, based the restaurant concept on vacation time and a $15 minimum wage for all their employees. Byte balances that with conventional ingredients on the menu, which doesn’t feature a single item over $10.
Just as the restaurant pays homage to dozens of shows, movies and comics, the menu offers a similarly diverse array of choices, all mixed and mingled. A Philly cheese steak sandwich ($9.50) could come with a tabbouleh salad on the side. Diners can get guacamole with their chips served alongside a Korean BBQ wrap ($9.25) or a rice bowl with paneer tikka masala ($8.25).
Rather than table service, the casual concept has counter service. A simple coffee operation will be available in the front in the morning.
On the bar side, the approximately 100-seat restaurant has local craft beers and wine. Behind the bar, Byte has a selection of available board games, such as “Settlers of Catan” or “Dirty Words,” though diners can bring their own to play.
Byte officially opens March 1 at 319 1st Ave. N. It will be open 7 a.m. for coffee and pastries and will begin to offer the full menu starting at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday. The restaurant will be open until 1 a.m. during the week and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sunday.