MIDTOWN — Food kiosks serving dumplings, international empanadas and milkshakes will soon be gracing the Times Square plazas, as part of a pilot program debuting this fall.
Construction is set to begin Friday on the first of four custom-built kiosks, which will be scattered across the soon-to-be-permanent plazas on Broadway between 42nd and 47th streets.
SoHo-favorite Salume will be the first to open, serving a selection of their authentic panini, which will be zipped in every hour from their West Broadway shop in a “very cute and efficient electric bike” and then toasted to order, owner Michele Colombo, said.
Colombo, who hails from Milan, said the key to quality is simple: freshly-sliced ingredients, a 1:2 ratio of bread to filling and a vow never to press the bread.
“Ours are the real Italian Panini,” said Colombo, whose sandwiches will sell for $8 to $10 in front of the Marriott Marquis.
Food truck favorite Rickshaw Dumplings is planning a brightly colored kiosk, slightly larger than a food truck, that will offer six varieties of their famous dumplings as well as soup, salad and spring rolls, founder David Weber said.
“I think what’s really different about it is the diverse makeup of the square,” said Weber, who offered a preview sampling of his fare at the Times Square Visitors Center Thursday.
While many of the eateries are still working to finalize hours, Weber said he's hoping to serve until midnight to catch the post-theater crowd.
Ariel Barbouth and his wife, Leni Mendez, another selected team, will offer what they describe as “inspired hand-held foods” from countries around the world.
Their Nuchas menu will include a selection of international empanadas made from all-natural ingredients for $3, including an Argentinian-style ground beef in white dough and slow-braised short ribs in rosemary dough, all hand-baked on premises.
For breakfast, they’ll serve “medialuna,” Argentinian-style sweet croissants, and an Icelandic version of the coffee roll.
“We figure that in New York, people want something different,” said Barbouth, who plans to stay open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Snack Box, another newcomer, is planning to operate out of a kiosk fashioned from a recycled shipping container.
Owner Jonathan Morr described the concept as a cross between an espresso bar and a hot dog stand, with a wide selection of pastries for breakfast and New York street food classics, including gourmet pretzels and all-beef hot dogs.
He’ll also be serving $5 milkshakes, in flavors like toasted marshmallow, burnt butter, strawberry black pepper and salted caramel.
Attorney Bruce Goldner, who was on the committee that selected the winners, said the team was looking for choices that went above and beyond the typical street food and the national chains that dominate the square.
Tompkins said the pilot is part of a larger effort by the Alliance to make the square more appealing, both to tourists and workers passing through everyday.
Those who got a peek at the new designs Thursday said they loved the idea of adding food service to the plazas.
“I think the idea is amazing. You’ve got a lot of empty space out there in the Middle of Times Square,” said Carol H., who declined to give her last name. She gave the Rickshaw Dumplings she tasted a big thumbs-up.
Yea-Kyung Chung, 27, a student at NYU, also raved about the idea, as she munched on the offerings.
“It will be a great memory for the people in the square,” she said.
All four new food kiosks are expected to be up and running by the end of September.