NYC Department of Parks and Recreation: RFP For Mobile Food Vendors City Wide

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has released a Request for Proposals for the sale of specialty foods from mobile units at various locations city wide.  Concessionaires are to apply for a single term, which is to last five years.  The concession is to be operated pursuant to a permit issued by Parks; no leasehold or other proprietary right is offered.

The deadline for proposal has been set as May 11th at 3:00PM.  Follow up interviews are scheduled for the week of June 8th.  In order to apply, vendors should submit a detailed operation plan for the entire Permitted Premises.  This plan includes, among other details, hours of operation, menu and prices, plans to install energy efficient appliances, and any plans to use “Green Seal” or environmentally friendly products or devices, staffing plans, safety and security plans, programming plans, mechanisms to measure customer satisfaction, maintenance, snow, rubbish removal, and cleaning schedules.

All applying vendors must comply with the necessary DOHMH regulations for mobile food vending.  The Parks department has opened up over 50 locations to be bid on.  For the complete list of regulations, details, and proposal requirements, click here.

Opportunities: CohnReznick Presents 2015 Hospitality Webinar Series

8c1d533d77cb811b09c0b47c64360fa9

CohnReznick LLP, one of the top accounting, tax, and advisory firms in the United States, will hold the second session in their Hospitality Webinar Series on May 21st titled The Technology Landscape: Understanding What You Need and What Works. This webinar will cover the past, present and future of hospitality industry technology and identify the best platforms based on a company’s technological need. The webinar will be moderated by Christopher Mahon, Partner at CohenReznick and will feature James McGhee, Partner at Results Thru Strategy. Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.39.44 PM

The series goal is to present webinars focused on the financial and operational issues that face hospitality companies. Other upcoming topics for the series include Public Relations and Social Media Strategies, The ABCs of Lending: The Finance Market for Restaurants, Both Big and Small and Legal Issues for the Hospitality Industry.

CohnReznick, headquartered in New York, offers specialized services for middle market, Fortune 1000 companies, private equity and financial services firms, government contractors, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations. Founded in 1919, they have over 300 partners, 2700 plus employees and bring in an annual revenue of more than $500 million dollars.

To register for this webinar, please click here

Trending Now: Chef’s Table Netflix Debut

netflix_web_logo

Netflix’s newest original programming Chef’s Table debuts today and will showcase six notable chefs, giving viewers a look into their daily lives and their creative process. The series, produced by David Gelb, director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, devotes an episode to each chef:

  • Ben Shewry – Attica, Australia
  • Magnus Nilsson – Fäviken, Sweden
  • Francis Mallmann – El Restaurante Patagonia Sur, Argentina
  • Niki Nakayama – N/Naka Restaurant, Los Angeles
  • Dan Barber – Blue Hill Restaurant, New York
  • Massimo Bottura – Osteria Francescana, Italy

Each episode is shot in the style of Jiro Dreams of Sushi but follows food from all over the world as Gelb wanted to show the “Planet Earth of Food”. Each chef chosen is very different from one another in hopes that seeing these chef’s stories will make viewers notice and change their perspective of the food currently in their lives.

Chef’s Table will premiere April 26 on Netflix. Watch the trailer below :

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Recalled for Listeria

Just days after the massive recall of every single Blue Bell Ice Cream product on shelves throughout the country, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is doing the exact same thing.  After a random sampling done by Nebraska Department of Agriculture found contamination, the company has opted to recall every ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and ice cream sandwich in every flavor.

Listeria is a significant concern for manufacturers, as the infections can be fatal for young children, frail or older people, and those with weak immune systems.  In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths.  As such, Jeni’s has voluntarily recalled everything it sells: “Out of an abundance of caution, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is taking this voluntary precautionary measure in order to ensure complete consumer safety,” noted CEO John Lowe.

The company is working with 10 top scientists, third-party labs in Columbus and throughout Ohio, four people with the FDA, and three people from the Ohio Department of Agriculture to help test and sample the products.  Results from these tests thus far indicate the presence of Listeria in the Jeni’s production kitchen.

Now, Lowe notes, they are focusing on “eradicating it” from the production facility–which will be tested and retested after the sterilization.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, Listeria outbreaks are going through a rash of occurrences–Sabra, Blue Bell, and now Jeni’s all in a single month.  To read more, click here.

Openings: Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.23.31 AMTomorrow, the much-anticipated Dominique Ansel Kitchen will open its doors to the West Village. The Cronut king has taken the industry by storm developing hybrid desserts and he plans to take things to the next level with his newest endeavor. Dominique Ansel Kitchen will be the first of its kind bringing bakery retail together with restaurant service. According to their newly launched website 70% of the menu will be made to order.

Dominique Ansel names time as an ingredient, placing importance on the care and process that goes into each pastry. The bakery vows to offer the “best and most genuine versions of pastries…at the perfect time for you to eat it”. Menu speculation includes chocolate mousse, baba au rhum, beignets, mille-feuille and very buttery lemon tarts that are all prepared a la minute with a one to two minute prep time. Additionally, the bakery will offer savory options including garlic bread croissants and béchamel filled squid ink toasts.

Ansel announced earlier this month that 26-year-old Karys Logue would be his Executive Chef overseeing both Dominique Ansel Kitchen as well as the original Dominique Ansel Bakery. Logue first crossed paths with Ansel when they worked together at Daniel and since she has perfected her skills as sous chef at Café Boulud as well as executive pastry chef at Sepia and Tessa.

Dominique Ansel Kitchen, 137 Seventh Avenue South (10th Street), 212-242-5111, dominiqueanselkitchen.com

Maple, the Momofuku-backed Delivery Service, Launches Today

Back in November, we posted about the news that Momofuku emperor David Chang had signed on to develop menus for a new, upscale food delivery app called Maple.  The major difference between Maple and its competitors like Caviar and Seamless is that Maple is going to produce all of the food itself, rather than sourcing from restaurants.

Maple has built a commissay kitchen in Brooklyn, which will, over time, feed into a network of delivery-kitchen hubs across the city.  Think Pret A Manger’s model without retail storefronts being replaced by a delivery application.  Maple has secured $26 million in funding to date–a portion of which has come from David Chang himself.

Today, the app is launching its service below Chambers Street with a mouthwatering menu.  In the kitchen is Soa Davies, a six-year veteran of Le Bernardin.  The operation is starting small with just three options, but plans to expand as the service grows.  Chang notes that America is somewhat behind with this trend, as there are “entire cultures… [that] base their food on deliverable lunches… Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India.  This is relatively new to us.”

To read more, click here.

Enterprise Insight: Launch Strategy

In this month’s Retail Spotlight, we discussed a single-product concept and how it is successfully operating in the city despite high rents and intense competition. In this month’s Enterprise Insight, we will discuss the strategy of launching and growing a single-product enterprise with specific case studies.

The benefits of launching a simple-product specialty shop are obvious: lower costs, less (slightly) to worry about, and a way to stand out in NYC’s crowded food landscape. But getting it done isn’t so obvious. Based on the most successful examples we’ve come across, the most effective path is participation in the NYC market scene.

The New York City food market scene started to simmer in 2011. That’s when the team behind Brooklyn Flea, which had been incubating some food vendors, launched Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. Since then, Smorgasburg has expanded to Dumbo and to a permanent facility, Berg’n, in Crown Heights. Across the river, UrbanSpace had transplanted from the UK and started the Grand Central Terminal and Union Square holiday markets around 2003. In 2008, UrbanSpace went food-forward with Mad. Sq. Eats just off of Madison Square Park.

These markets have become proving grounds for concepts looking to test the sharky NYC restaurant waters.

Take, for example, Dough, the wildly popular doughnut shop in the Flatiron district. Dough started in Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg long before launching a brick and mortar shop. Dough simmered in Smorgasburg, building a reputation, testing recipes, and earning real revenue. Then, this past fall, the company opened their first shop with lines around the block.

Likewise, Melissa Weller started selling bagels in Smorgasburg in 2013. Weller had been kneading and baking for the likes of Thomas Keller and Roberta’s before starting her own company, East River Bread, and selling at the market. Now, Weller has been tapped to team up with Major Food Group to bake those bagels for their next concept, Sadelle’s.

Entrepreneurs eager to start their foodservice business in a market have plenty of homework to do in advance. The most successful concepts have done their market research and crunched their numbers. The markets do not allow overlap between concepts, and each market has a different rental agreement. For example, the all-indoor Gotham West Market charges market-rate rents, while at Berg’n, vendors pay a percentage of their overall profits.

The biggest barriers to entry in the foodservice business are capital and exposure. Focusing on one product allows you to keep capital costs down and increases your chances of getting into a market such as Smorgasburg, which increases your exposure.

Big Gains for Organic Food

In 2014, US sales of organic food increased by 11%, to reach a total of $35.9 billion.  The Organic Trade Association, which released the survey, also noted that organic foods accounted for 5% of total foods sales.  Produce, which accounts for 36% of organic food sales rose $13 billion–a 12% increase over 2013.

Regionally, the rise was unilateral;  while the West Coast and Northeast purchase nearly 90% of their groceries from organic sources, the increase in sales was seen everywhere.  “We really moved beyond… the old assumptions about organic being niche and having sort of a cultural blanket over it,” said chief executive of the OTA, Laura Batcha.  “O.T.A.’s consumer survey has… found that organic doesn’t have any demographic… regional or partisan boundaries.”

Batcha noted also that the growth was “striking” because of major shortages in supply–less than 1% of farm acreage in the US is devoted to organic agriculture.  What was once the domain of specialty retailers like Whole Foods, organic foods have now gone mainstream: Walmart started offering organic products in 2013, and eight of ten parents claim to buy organic products.

In New York City, the rise is most apparent with the expansion of concepts such as Organic Avenue and Digg Inn.  Organic Avenue raised almost $10 million in 2012, and closed another round in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.

To read more, click here.

Rebelle Launches on Lower East Side

The chef of Paris’ revolutionary Spring, Daniel Eddy, has returned to the States to open Rebelle with Pearl & Ash’s uber-successful wine director, Patrick Cappiello.  The duo see the bistronomy trend that bubbled up in the Parisian restaurant scene as the major inspiration for Rebelle–particularly given Eddy’s involvement in Spring, which helped usher in the movement in Paris.

The pair have opened a restaurant that pairs serious food with a casual setting–exploring French classics in a modern way.  For example, beet bourguignonne made with salt-baked beets in place of beef, and leek vinaigrette with soft-boiled egg, Dijon, and leek ash.  Cappiello is running the wine program with gusto; the list has 1,500 French and American labels.  Per Se and Guy Savoy alum Jessica Yang is running the pastry department and churning out grand finales such as rhubard, lemongrass, and vanilla in various textures.

Brooklyn-based hOmE, which is responsible for many of the austere, beautiful dining rooms around town such as Mast Brothers, Black Seed, and Telepan Local, designed the space with an emphasis on marble, custom textiles, and simplicity.  The dining room features a chef’s counter overlooking the open kitchen, and a bar with a separate snack menu and cocktails from master mixologist, Eben Klemm.

Rebelle is now open.  To read more, click here.

Seafood sees Big Opportunity with Fast Casual

Fast casual has crossed many boundaries in the past few years–from burritos to pizza–and seafood might be next.  Chicago-based research firm Technomic has released a report noting that seafood consumption is on the rise; nearly three-fourths of consumers who ordered more seafood entrees over the past two years said they did so to eat more healthfully, the report says.

Consumers see seafood as healthier than beef, pork, and poultry, and as in line with vegetarian and vegan meals.  Half of respondents indicated that these meals–pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan–are as satisfying as meals with meat.  Sixty-two percent of consumers surveyed have a beef, pork, or poultry-free meal at least once a week, and 69% have a seafood entree at lease once every 90 days.  Furthermore, about half of the respondents said they would like restaurants to offer a wider variety of seafood, vegetarian, or vegan entrees.

“Health will continue to drive the seafood and vegetarian menu mix, and it can be leveraged both to spur interest in these options and to benefit the concept as a whole, by broadening appeal, reducing the ‘veto vote’ and creating a health halo,” said Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights for Technomic. “These options also provide a point of differentiation that younger consumers look for as inventive, yet satisfying vegetarian and seafood items featuring on-trend ingredients to create a contemporary, unique and better-for-you positioning,” she added.

While chains such as Pret A Manger, Au Bon Pain, and Panera Bread have introduced items with shrimp or lobster in the past year, only 6% of seafood entrees on US menus are found in fast-casual restaurants.

“Currently, seafood is mostly the province of casual-dining chains, and with few limited-service brands able to approach the size of Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s, the white space in between those segments leaves plenty of room for young fast-casual restaurants to develop quickly in urban, affluent areas,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president for Technomic. “Securing a supply of fresh fish and managing price points are certainly challenges for limited-service seafood brands, but this type of cuisine lets new chains leverage many attributes people love about fast casual, including perceptions of greater ingredient quality, bold flavors and customization.”

To read more, click here.