7/26: The Four Seasons Auctions Off Its Entire Iconic Interior

fourseasons5.0.jpgDetails were released yesterday about the much-anticipated auction of the furniture and smallwares formerly used at the Four Seasons Park Avenue, and there are certainly more than a few New Yorkers out there already reaching for their pocketbooks.

The auction will be held by Wright Auctions, a Chicago-based company specializing in mid-century design. It will take place on-site on July 26th. The restaurant has long been iconic for it’s interior design and aesthetic; in fact, the architectural fittings and detailing have been landmarked (and as such are among the only items not available for sale). According to Richard Wright, founder and president of Wright Auctions, “[we] have always held a particular focus on modern architecture and design, and this interior so perfectly captures the modern spirit in heroic and elegant fashion.”

There will soon be a catalogue available of the full auction list, but New York collectors can already look forward to the Grill Room’s famous banquettes, the custom tulip tables, and bespoke small wares ranging from wine coolers to pots and pans.

To read more, click here.


Chobani CEO Offers Full Time Employees an Unprecedented Bonus

On Tuesday Morning, 2,000 full time Chobani employees received the surprise of a lifetime: shares worth 10% of the company, a bonus which could mean up to a million dollars for some employees when the company is sold or goes public. According to CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, the goal is to pass along the wealth he could not have accumulated without the help of his employees.

The distribution of shares was based on tenure, with the employees who had been with Chobani longest receiving the largest distribution. Since Chobani’s current valuation, as estimated by TPG capital, is $3 – $5 billion, the average value of each employee’s distribution is $150,000. The shares come directly from Mr. Ulukaya, who is still the majority stakeholder. If employees leave or retire before Chobani is bought or goes public, they can hold onto the shares or sell them back to the company.

The move has obviously already generated a lot of press, particularly as it touches on the hot button topic of the wealth gap in America, much discussed this election cycle. Mr. Ulukaya himself has not made the connection explicit – focusing instead on his appreciation for his employees, and their crucial role in bringing the company where it is today.

To read more, click here.

Street Vendors Protest Limited Number of Permits

13087313_10153582577593519_8831297411753637903_n.0.jpgThere are few things more closely associated with New York City than the smell of roasted peanuts and the ubiquitous carts selling shwarma, hot dogs, or decidedly-not-cold-brew iced coffee. There are around 20,000 street vendors in NYC, but the city only hands out 5,000 permits a year for a cost of $300 each – meaning many sellers are operating illegally or renting permits at much higher rates. On Tuesday, hundreds of vendors gathered at city hall to protest the cap on permits, originally issued in the 80’s in an effort to clean up the city streets. According to the protestors, that cap is no longer necessary, and puts a huge hurdle in the way of those who just want to legally work.

Some argue that the cap is still necessary, as the health department already struggles to keep up with monitoring the number of vendors with permits. Others view the vendors as “unsanitary and unsightly,” and worry that more permits will create dangerous street congestion and sanitation issues. Arguably, the increased revenue from adding more permits could help offset the added costs of inspections and enforcement, but the problem is a sticky one.

To read more, click here.

Grand Banks Boat Returns Next Tuesday

1451064622024.jpegFew things say warm weather is coming like outdoor dining. Or, even better, outdoor dining by the water. Or, if you really want to up the ante, dining on the water. Of course, the options for the latter are limited, but next Tuesday Grand Banks will return to Tribeca’s pier 25 with not just drinks but their full food menu as well.

Grand Banks is a seasonal restaurant located on a historic fishing schooner. They opened in 2014 to quick success, with lines occasionally extending down the pier to grab a seat for lobster rolls, fried oysters and the full bar menu. This year they are accepting reservations, so anyone headed out for an adventurous first-date meal need not worry to much about being stranded on the pier. There’s also a selection of new dishes, including friend Montauk blowfish tails and pan roasted oysters with bacon and ramps.

Click here for more information, or to make a reservation.

Highlights from the North American Restaurant and Foodservice 2016 Outlook

There’s good news to be had in the 2016 restaurant data so far, but there’s also a lot of data to sift through. You can read the full report here, or see some key take-aways below:

  • Employment levels and disposable income are high, riding positive tailwinds from the end of last year. The number of restaurants per-capita has also decreased steadily from a peak in 2013, meaning there is less supply to meet the growing demand.
  • A decline in oil prices is good news for restaurants’ bottom lines, but has affected the industry unevenly, creating more competition for major chains from smaller players.
  • Guest priorities include lower prices, improved healthy menu options, and a focus on food safety.
  • Quick-service-restaurants are focusing more on discounting, but guests are still most likely to use coupons and deals from restaurants they already visit frequently.
  • Most consumers support wage increases throughout the service industry, and would be willing to pay a premium toward such increases.
  • Tipping is still a controversial topic, with 65% of survey respondents saying they do not support replacing gratuity with a service charge.
  • Online and mobile ordering is the most important technological priority to restaurant guests.

Parks Department Issues Request for Specialty Mobile Food Units

See below for the full Request for Proposals.

In accordance with Section 1-13 of the Concession Rules of the City of New York, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) issued, as of April 20, 2016, a Request for Proposals for the sale of specialty food from mobile food units at various locations citywide.
All proposals submitted in response to this RFP must be submitted no later than Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 3:00 pm.
Hard copies of the RFP can be obtained, at no cost, commencing on April 20, 2016 through May 31, 2016, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays, at the Revenue Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which is located at 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 407, New York, NY 10065.
The RFP is also available for download, commencing on April 20, 2016 through May 31, 2016, on the Parks’ website.  To download the RFP, visit www.nyc.gov/parks/businessopportunities, click on the link for “Concessions Opportunities at Parks” and, after logging in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFP’s description.
For more information or to request to receive a copy of the RFP by mail, prospective proposers may contact Santiago Zindel, Project Manager, at (212) 360-3407 or at santiago.zindel@parks.nyc.gov.

Is Canned Cold Brew Coffee’s Fourth Wave?

Stumptown-Nitro-Cold-Brew-Canned-Coffee.jpgAccording to Todd Carmichael, founder of coffee chain and industry leader La Colombe, we’re about to witness the fourth wave of coffee consumption in America – and it will be bigger than any of the waves that came before. What are those waves, exactly, and what could possibly dwarf them?

Think of coffee’s first wave as the everyman brew – the reason people get nostalgic for diner drip and Folgers still has enough momentum to surpass all sales expectations. The second wave coincided with the growing popularity of espresso drinks, and the expansion of Starbucks. The third wave (and, we admit, our favorite so far) represented the growing popularity of small roasters treating coffee beans as real ingredients instead of a commodity. Many of the small roasters that represented this trend, like Intelligentsia and Blue Bottle, have since been bought out by larger players, but there are still newcomers who continue to expand coffee horizons with superior quality and innovative ideas. Enter the fourth wave, as Carmichael calls it – bottled (or canned) cold brew.

If your mind goes immediately to the current industry standard in ready to drink coffee – Starbucks bottled frappuccinos – you’re not alone. But Carmichael believes there is a huge opportunity gap between current levels of consumption and the possible market. “They’ve been working for 20 years to get it to $2 billion. Then you look to Mexico, which isn’t really a coffee-drinking country, and their [ready-to-drink] coffee is at $4.7 billion.” Carmichael is working on bridging that gap, with a variety of flavors introduced through channels ranging from local convenience stores to whole foods. One thing is for sure – he’s excited, and who can blame him? Great coffee in a can sounds like a win-win.

To read more, click here.

The Unexpected Problem With Tablet Ordering

Okay, we admit it, this may not seem like a problem to guests ordering food at a fast casual chain; but to restaurant owners who are considering switching from human servers to tablet ordering (that is, placing tablets at tables or the front of the dining area where guests can click through their order rather than speaking to a server), there’s new evidence to consider. According to a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, guests are actually less likely to indulge in decadent food and treats when they order from a tablet instead of a person. And while this could be good news for restaurants gearing toward the health conscious (like Sweetgreen, which already handles the majority of it’s ordering through a mobile app rather than face-to-face sales), it bodes less well for establishments like bakeries, pizza places or fast food chains.

The findings are interesting because they contradict an assumption many have, that guests are more likely to indulge if they don’t feel they can be judged by a server. Instead, the research suggests guests don’t feel judged at all – they feel encouraged to treat themselves, and are less likely to control ordering impulses when speaking than clicking a button.

There are certainly other reasons to shy away from tablet ordering, especially when hospitality is the backbone of your business. But for those considering the benefits, this research is one more factor to weigh in.

To read more, click here.

Postmates Moves Into Speedy Delivery (Your Move, Uber)

blog_header-pop@2x.jpgOn Monday, Uber announced that it would be canceling Instant Delivery – the lunch-only, 10-minute curbside delivery feature in New York . The tricky logistics of the service had largely been offloaded to featured restaurants, who estimated how many of a given meal would sell each day and sent the prepackaged lunches to Uber’s midtown office to be picked up and driven or biked around the city. Even so, the delivery company admitted they may have overreached a bit, and have cancelled the service to focus on the core of the UberEats business.

Whether by coincidence or an impressively quick strategic move, Postmates has now stepped up to the ultra-fast delivery plate, rolling out their 15-minute delivery service (called Postmates Pop) in NYC at 11 am today. The service has been available for almost a year in San Francisco, and Postmates has said that it will work exactly the same way in New York (although only from 34th Street to Battery Park). To begin, you can order through the service from Fuku, Harry and Ida’s and S’MAC. It’s unclear how they’ll clear the hurdles that brought down Uber Instant, but we’re pretty sure contenders will keep stepping up until at least one nails it.

To read more, click here.

5/16: Master the Basics of Restaurant Accounting

Thinking of adding COO or CFO to your title? On May 16th, our very own Tara Berman, CPA, MBA, and Managing Partner at TaraPaige Group, will be joining the collaborative learning community Journee to teach the basics of restaurant accounting and controls. The class will provide participants with an accounting foundation that their restaurants can stand on, including all the tools to implement systems and procedures that can contribute to long-term financial success.

Tickets are free for Journee members, who also get access to a shared workspace and unlimited classes throughout the year.

To learn more and register, click here.