Haymarket Bistro will offer a broad variety of foods including pizza. | Courtesy of Atria Senior Living

Downtown Louisville is getting a new restaurant, but it will do more than serve food to hungry patrons.

Louisville-based Atria Senior Living is moving its employee cafe from the eighth floor to the first floor of its building at 300 E. Market St. With the move, the cafe, called Haymarket Bistro, will open up to the public, said Ronda Watson, Atria’s senior vice president of culinary and engage life.

The first-floor version of Haymarket Bistro will act as a training facility for staff who work in one of Atria’s more than 180 senior living communities and as a research and development facility for new recipes. Opening Haymarket Bistro to downtown employees will allow the company to gather information about what potential future residents enjoy, Watson said.

“If you were living with us, is this the taste of the product that you want?” she said.

Each day, Atria serves some 22,000 senior citizens living at its facilities across North America, and high-quality food is important to residents, Watson said, adding that the company places heavy emphasis on making dishes from scratch using regionally sourced ingredients.

“We want to make sure the quality we put out there is restaurant-like or resort-like,” Watson said. “We have a pretty demanding clientele, so we want to make sure we meet their expectations.”

Ronda Watson | Courtesy of Atria Senior Living

The new Haymarket Bistro will allow Atria to test recipes on the general public before it appears on menus at its senior living facilities. “We are going to be able to do so much more” in the new space, Watson said.

The first-floor space will have a full kitchen, something the current Haymarket Bistro lacks. Staff instead works with induction burners and other mobile equipment.

The new Haymarket is expected to open in the next two to three weeks, she said, with hours of operation likely starting out at 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

The menu is still in the works, but it will include dishes such as a salmon salad with kale, quinoa, walnuts and white raisins with apple cider vinegar dressing; egg whites with spinach; and grilled cheese with tomato soup. Watson said Haymarket Bistro will serve healthy foods but also offer some warm comfort foods.

Menu items will rotate throughout the year as regionally grown ingredients go in and out of season. Prices aren’t set, but a soup and sandwich will cost around $10, with more substantial entrees running about $12, she said.

“We know we need to stay competitive,” Watson said. “We want to make it convenient for folks and be able to serve a fresh convenient product.”

Through Haymarket Bistro, Atria also has a catering arm that provides food for events hosted internally as well as larger off-site events such as the Louisville Ballet’s Raise the Barre fundraiser and events for Louisville’s Legal Aid Society.