New Twists on Eating Local


Erik Andrus explains The Vermont Sail Freight Project in their Kickstarter video

Erik Andrus explains The Vermont Sail Freight Project in their Kickstarter video

The eating of eating locally grown food continues to gain steam with new variations on water, land and sea, and novel ones at that.  Road warriors weary of the all too prevalent chain restaurants in airports and on interstate highways, will be delighted to hear that airports across the country are turning to leading hometown chefs for new eateries on the casual side. As reported in the New York Times,  at LAX airport, Michael Voltaggio of Ink and Ink Sack is opening an upscale sandwich shop and Suzanne Goin of the highly regarded Lucques will open a high end deli next month. Chicago’s Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill), Houston’s Bryan Caswell (Reef) and Denver’s Justin Cucci (Root Down) also have new dining spots on tap with extensive menu items to go.  Approaching local from a sustainable transportation model, Vermont farmer Erik Andrus launched the Vermont Sail Freight Project , a low tech approach to both food and energy,that features a 39 foot sailing barge, Ceres, that plies the Hudson River with produce from 30 new England farms. Produce is destined for sale in port towns from Hudson to Yonkers – farmers markets, dinners and parties. In an earlier post on the new phenomenon of the “hobby farmer’ we wrote about urbanites having their own chicken coops for fresh eggs. In the latest twist, a company started a business called “rent a chicken”. For $350 customers can rent a pair of egg laying hens, a supply of food, coop and water dish for a several month period to try it out. All the rewards of backyard chickens for much less responsibility. Sounds like an intriguing idea, but what do you do when you travel? How about a new business idea, hen sitters!?

Next Step in Farm to Table

Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica photo:

Hotels That Farm: Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica

Fairmont Hotels has its rooftop beehives, more hotels and restaurants their herb and vegetable gardens and buy local, and spas their herb gardens to use in treatments. It’s all part of the rapidly growing farm-to-table movement you’ve read about. Consumers, too, are doing their thing with urban chicken farming, gardening and beekeeping  proliferating across the country. In fact, this has raised issues for municipalities who are relooking zoning. The consumer phenomenon is called the “hobby farmer”, you could say a logical next step in the farm-to-table movement that has fueled a growth in farmers’ markets, community sponsored agriculture and young people going back to the land. To reach out to the market segment of “foodies”, the passionate about farm to table, and would be young farmers, there’s an intriguing new website and magazine  — Modern Farmer. Out since April, it already has a global following in Europe and Australia. I can see why. There are highly original, fascinating articles not covered by any other publication. Former President Bill Clinton contributed an article about the work his foundation is doing with farmers globally, and his memories of helping on his uncle’s farm in Alabama. Categories include food, travel, plants and animals and culture among others. Other articles have included everything from Hotels that Farm and  Farmers’ Market Etiquette to the Boston Design Center getting a 55K square foot rooftop garden, and probably more than you’d ever want to know about goats (a “hot” menu item now….the new lamb?).

Reprinted from

Hotels Accelerate Innovation in F & B

Four Seasons Food Truck

Four Seasons Food Truck

kwe blog four seasons food truck 2

Over the years, first at my alma mater Hilton International and later
representing hotels and resorts, I frequently heard hotel GMs complain that
guests were bringing in pizza and fried chicken from the outside to their guest
rooms. This was particularly true in the off-season at resorts when the bargain
crowd moved in. Now, hotels have decided if you can’t fight them, join them.

As reported in the New York Times, the Amway Grand Plaza
hotel has created its own pizza delivery service .Convenient ‘grab-and-go’
restaurants with selections of sandwiches, salads and beverages  are
becoming more commonplace. The Westin Diplomat is one of several Westins that
created their own take on the concept with restaurants called ‘Ingredients, Some
Assembly Required’ in their lobbies. In some, but not all cases, these are in
addition to traditional room service offerings. For guests it’s a money/time
saving choice. For the hotels, it’s a way to capture some additional revenue
that would have otherwise gone elsewhere

With the high cost of running a food and beverage operation, hotels are looking
for more ways to capture revenue both in volume and by increasing the average
cover. In the luxury end, culinary experiences are increasingly more common which
offer the added benefit of reinforcing luxury branding. We’re also seeing
more hotels developing dedicated websites to highlight themselves as food
destinations. And, in one of the more exciting innovations, Four Seasons Hotels
has launched a food truck that is traveling to a number of its West Coast properties.

Young Foodies, your Devoted Customers-to-Be

Mikey Robins, 15, is the youngest champion of the Food Network's "Chopped".

Mikey Robins, 15, is the youngest champion of the Food Network’s “Chopped”.

More on millennials marketing. Remember you read it here first – teenagers and offspring of affluent parents will be a food focused generation. All of the signs are there. Teens favoriting the Food Network and other foodie shows, then trying out what they see in the kitchen. Even toddlers have become adventurous eaters and think nothing of eating sushi, sashimi and “Babe-a-ccinos” (a coffee free cappuccino).  We are, indeed, a food obsessed population. Look not only at the proliferation of cooking schools, growth of culinary tourism, tourist board food and wine festivals, but social networking sites, blogs, and review sites. Youngsters are eager to join their parents in cooking classes at the pricier resorts around the world. I have a 13 year old niece whose best friend gave her a ring that was inscribed with the words “kale” in honor of her obsession with the dark green leafy vegetable. Where does this come from? Their parents’ foodie culture.

Now we’re seeing exhibits honoring the world’s leading chefs: early next year will be an exhibit of the drawings and diagrams of master Spanish chef Ferran Adrià at the Drawing Center in New York.  And then there’s the Food Hotel which we’ve written about before. What does this all mean to marketers? Capturing the imagination and interest of these young foodies can create indelible memories that can translate into a devoted customer-to-be.


Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President and Chief Strategist

Buying Local Accelerates Well Beyond Food

kwe blog csaBuying local is taking on new, exciting permutations, going well beyond food and beverage with farm to table restaurant menus and shares in food coops. Shops are finding it an effective strategy to set them apart from the big box retailers, not only offering distinctive merchandise, but also, a chance to tout their support for local businesses and jobs. There’s even a specific URL to promote buying local, and one I just came across in South Florida ( ) Even here, though, department stores are realizing the benefits of featuring local as in designers and foodstuffs. On a recent trip to Paris, I noticed in Galeries Lafayette’s shoe department , one of the largest in the world, the grouping of French designers in what was “prime real estate” — the center of the floor.  And now we have the latest twist, C.S.A.s (Community Supported Agriculture) have turned  to community based art. 

For a set price ranging from $50 to $500, you can buy a monthly “package” of art, pre- selected, and all from local artists. The program started four years ago in Minnesota and has now spread to other cities, from Pittsburgh and Miami to Brooklyn, Lincoln, Neb. and Fargo. Money from the shares pays the artists who are usually chosen by a jury to produce a small work in an edition of 50 or however many shares have been sold. It’s a way to support local artists in the short term and introduce potential new buyers to artists who will hopefully buy larger works. It’s a surprise which artists will be featured in a delivery. The C.S.A programs have taken off with different themes — in Philadelphia it’s folk art and contemporary; in Michigan, art and food; in Pittsburgh there’s also a performing arts version which features plays, concerts and other events. Next up? Art and design in Brooklyn. All of this buying local phenomenon can only be helped by the new trend with the nation’s largest newspapers taken back by local owners who are more in touch with their community and will be more dependent on them to make the papers a success.

Site Search Tags:

Signature Amenities Go Far

Warby Parker sunglasses, an amenity from STND Air

Warby Parker sunglasses, an amenity from STND Air


Departures magazine this summer wrote about “status symbol” freebies and signature amenities which reminded me of how an amenity  can go far in building a brand, adding value, and generating press and word of mouth. The best amenities relate to the brand’s image and are something you can consume and are useful, as opposed to my least favorite amenity in the whole world – the paperweight. I also think it’s preferable not to have the logo prominent because then it can smack of an advertisement, lessening its value. One of the better ones I’ve read about in the same article is the Warby Parker sunglasses Andre Balazs gave all passengers last summer on his STND Air charter. Aman Resorts has their own leather luggage tags which have become collector items, another good one. Beauty salons who got the message include Kenneth Salon, a favorite of Park Avenue socialites, that serves tea sandwiches every afternoon and I remember a tony salon in Madrid that comes around with silver platters of  toast with olive oil, tomato, and the prized jamon Serrano. It’s surprising more top restaurants don’t give diners a takeaway – like New York’s The Modern, who I remember gave me a lemon pound cake as a parting gift. On the other hand, last year in Paris I had a martini at the signature bar of one of the city’s iconic hotels, paid the equivalent of about $50 for the martini and was served the usual bar snacks. A missed opportunity for sure.

Blogpost by Karen Weiner Escalera, President and Chief Strategist

The Restaurant Industry’s Latest Social Media Trend

While cell phones can be an annoyance to fine dining connoisseurs, leading establishments are now encouraging Instagram users to snap shots mid-meal, tag the restaurant’s feed mid-meal, use a specific hash tag relating back to a topic or dish and even offer special perks to influencers with many followers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a new Chicago start up, Popular Pays, works with a dozen local restaurants to reward free food to influential Instagram users with 500-1,000+ followers. Fine dining restaurants even offer off-the menu perks for a mid-course photo shoot. Posh Italian Restaurant on NYC’s Upper East Side, dubbed 83 1/2, now offers a free attogato pop- a hazelnut-and-espresso ice pop that isn’t on the menu- to customers who post a photo from inside the restaurant and tag the manager’s feed.

Not only do these picture-crazy customers serve as “brand ambassadors”, they drive traffic to the restaurant’s own Instagram feed. Restaurants use instagram to showcase photos of mouth-watering signature dishes, inform users of specials, and share behind-the-scene glimpses of the kitchen.. This February, while Instagram announced its nearly 100 million monthly users, social media marketing platform MomentFeed released the first-ever “Best Instagram Practices for Restaurants”.

Blogpost by Becca Tash

Gold Shines in Marketing

The price of gold just registered its lowest point in two years, below $1300 an ounce. But it still has, and will always have the allure of wealth, sumptuousness, and the “wow” factor. No surprise, then, that with the readvent of conspicuous consumption that I wrote about last week, luxury products and services are once again getting on the bandwagon, using gold as a key ingredient to add cachet and generate “buzz”. Case in point, a new restaurant in Miami called Gold and Pepper which I just featured in my blog, , has 23 karat gold leaf in everything from ravioli and lobster salad to brownies.

Skin care line Orogold which put itself on the map with 24 karat gold infused moisturizers will soon introduce a 24K Gold Caviar Collection (from $3000) which will use anti-oxidant rich fish eggs as its other big selling point. They weave a story around Greek and Chinese history and the place of gold for its “luxuriousness and beautifying properties”. The list goes on — 51 Buckingham Gate in London has a 24 karat gold afternoon tea where, not only does the beverage pay homage to gold (Luxur pure gold 24 Brut champagne with gold flakes), but the pastries and even the jelly. Then of course there are over the top expensive cocktails and get this — 23 karat gold chocolate bacon. The moral of the story? When you want to add some cachet, gold is always a good bet even if it may not be such a good bet as an investment these days.

Mixologists – new marketing influencers

Marketers have long mined data from social networks for “influencers,” people whose favorable tweets and posts can boost product sales. Likewise, sprits companies are consulting the experts – focus groups of influential bartenders on their opinions, especially those spirits that are consumed as cocktails, not shots or neat. All the big liquor brands like Bacardi and Pernod Ricard are collaborating with bartenders in creating new spirits because at the end of the day, bartenders make the sale for them.

[ more... ]

Restaurateurs Move in on Museums

Cafe d'art, a museum restaurant, makes special cakes for each museum exhibit

Cafe d’Art, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

Leading restauranteurs in the US are finding new business opportunities in restaurants in museums. The concept isn’t new. Gourmet magazine featured a terrific article on the world’s best museum restaurants. These include everything from Nerua in the Guggenheim in Bilbao whose chef is a disciple of il Bulli and the Cafe Capaman at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris to the Cafe d’Art in Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo which makes cakes that tie in with museum exhibits.New York restaurant guru Danny Meyer has had his award winning Modern at the Museum of Modern Art for a number of years. Now, in the past two years the trend has accelerated as museums see these restaurants as an added service, generator of “buzz”,  and source of additional revenue. The Whitney recently opened Untitled, the New York Historical Society has a new eatery run by noted Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr and the hot Little Italy restaurant Torrisi Italian Specialties is said to be opening an eatery next to the downtown Whitney museum.The trend isn’t confined to Manhattan. At MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Montreal chefs Hugue Dufour and Srah Obraitis have opened the M.Wells Dinette where they serve up salt cod brandade and Black Forest Charlotte. Sounds like a “win win” for all.