OpenTable’s Open Kitchen Initiative and Eataly L.A.

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features OpenTable, LevelUp and FullContact, Clune Construction Company, Drop Bar and Lounge Sdn Bhd, Texas de Brazil Churrascaria and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

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OpenTable Launches Open Kitchen

OpenTable unveiled its “Open Kitchen”  initiative at SXSW 2018. The PSA-style campaign spotlights the need for the restaurant industry to make a shared commitment to put an end to an exclusionary, abusive culture and refocus on creating safe and respectful workplaces in restaurants. OpenTable collaborated with prominent restaurant owners, GMs, and chefs to release a public service announcement in which they advocate for professionalism, inclusiveness, and equality.

OpenTable launches “Open Kitchen” campaign at SXSW 2018

“No matter who you are or your role in a restaurant, whether you work in the kitchen or front of house, everyone deserves a safe seat at the table,” said Christa Quarles, CEO of OpenTable. “It’s on all of us – chefs, managers, restaurateurs, leaders, and more – to call out and stamp out inappropriate behavior and hold offending parties accountable. Together, we can bring about real change to ensure a positive and safe work environment for all.”

Quarles debuted the campaign and PSA video at her SXSW presentation entitled “Silicon Valley to Restaurants: The Path to Equality“. The PSA stars chefs and restaurateurs who have committed to Open Kitchens in their restaurants, including: Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen, Oakland), Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill, LA), Edward Lee (Succotash, DC), and Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza (State Bird Provisions, SF).

“We as an industry put a heavy emphasis on quality and service when it comes to our guests, yet great service begins within, in the way we interact with one another and treat our staff,” said Mary Sue Milliken, Chef and Restaurateur, Border Grill. “Moving forward, we must continually engage with our employees, lead by example, and emphasize respect and diversity to cultivate a healthy and more hospitable culture.”

To underscore a restaurant’s commitment, OpenTable has also released a ‘pledge poster’ that restaurateurs can display in the back of house asserting their restaurant to be one where everyone has a “safe seat at the table” and pledging to an Open Kitchen where they:

  • Uphold a zero-tolerance policy for harassment of any kind
  •  Treat one another with the same hospitality as they treat their guests
  • Listen to one another with care, compassion, and respect
  • Grow the team with a focus on diversity and inclusion
  • Cultivate a professional environment always

To commit to an Open Kitchen and learn more about the campaign,  click here. To read more of Quarles’ thoughts on this important topic, click here.

LevelUp Partners with FullContact 

LevelUp partnered with FullContact, an identity resolution provider, to power precision marketing programs by providing restaurateurs with a detailed understanding of their guests’ interests and social networks.

FullContact offers industry-leading customer intelligence, which LevelUp’s restaurant partners can now access as an added service through LevelUp’s new “LevelUp Labs” feature suite.  By matching a customer’s email address, FullContact provides operators deeper guest insight, including demographic information, company information, favorite sports teams, hobbies, and social network size and influence.  As a result, restaurants on the LevelUp platform can now better segment their digital marketing efforts to speak directly to their guests’ interests.

“We’re excited to add FullContact’s customer intelligence capabilities to our suite of services, giving our restaurant partners a way to create targeted and compelling digital marketing campaigns that will impact their bottom line,” said Theresa Dold, VP Agency Strategy. “We’re always looking for new ways to help our partners leverage cutting-edge technology, which is why we’re launching this as part of a new set of services we’re calling “LevelUp Labs,” available today in the LevelUp Hub.”

“LevelUp is a leader in customer engagement for the restaurant industry, and we are thrilled to layer on our customer intelligence to their robust suite of services,” said Jon Tallman, Director of Solutions Architecture at FullContact.  “For the first time, restaurant brands can now truly understand their customer and create a unique one-to-one relationship through this partnership.”

LevelUp partners can access FullContact and additional “LevelUp Labs” services in their dashboard. Today in “LevelUp Labs,” restaurants can list their menu across LevelUp’s Broadcast network, build digital advertising audiences from credit card transactors, and enrich their precision marketing efforts with FullContact.

LevelUp partners can leverage FullContact today to:

  • Identify top social influencers among their customers and invite them to engage in an influencer marketing program, which is increasingly a preferred marketing approach for leading consumer brands.
  • Grow their catering revenue by running a catering-specific campaign targeting guests in decision-making roles at nearby businesses.
  • Craft custom segmented digital marketing campaigns based on guests’ interests. For example, restaurants can run a campaign targeting fans of each team in upcoming March Madness brackets, or target foodies for an exclusive first look at their menu.
Clune Completes Eataly L.A.

Clune Construction Company completed construction on Eataly L.A., an Italian marketplace designed by Studios Architecture at the newly renovated Westfield Century City shopping mall in Los Angeles. This new location is Eataly’s first West Coast store, the fifth in the United States, and the 39th globally.

“Our team is excited to have played such a key role in creating Eataly’s first-ever West Coast location,” said Clune Construction Executive Managing Director, West Region President Bob Dahlstrom. “The project was very detailed and required precise coordination of many local construction trades, imported materials and client vendors directly from Italy. We would like to thank everyone who worked on the project and made it a success.”

Eataly L.A.

The project included the construction of an expansive, three-story, 67,000-square-foot space for the new Eataly L.A. To complete the intensive LEED project, Clune constructed four restaurants, multiple kitchens, nine take-away food counters, a cooking school, retail space, and two chilled wine storage rooms.

Clune installed two interconnected spiral staircases to link three floors within the marketplace. The company worked with an out-of-state manufacturer in Minnesota to fabricate the stairs, shipped them to Los Angeles in large pieces and then carefully installed them into the space with the use of a crane.

Eataly L.A.

Clune installed the in-house greywater system designed to recycle water, significantly reducing the amount of drinkable water the store uses for flushing toilets and watering plants by up to 33 percent. The project included the construction of a clean room designated for the on-site preparation of gelato and mozzarella. The team installed customized pasteurizers to replicate the authentic taste of gelato and mozzarella from Italy. Clune coordinated with Eataly’s kitchen experts to create these rooms, both of which adhere to state regulations.

“Helping Eataly come to life in Los Angeles was truly a special experience,” said Clune Managing Director, General Superintendent West Region Peter Bahruth. “I couldn’t be more impressed with the way our team was able to collaborate with inspectors, client vendors, and subcontractors on a tight deadline and deliver an incredible experience that we can all be proud of and enjoy.”

“We had a very good experience working with Clune, and we are very proud of the final product,” said Alex Saper, COO and Partner of Eataly USA.

Clune is also currently working with Eataly on Terra, a special project located on the third floor. 

Drop KL Drops in Kuala Lumpur

Drop Bar and Lounge Sdn Bhd (Drop KL) opened at The Terraces, TREC on 438 Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur.

“The American Association of Malaysia aims to bring a feeling of home away from home to our members, with our American Hospitality styled social events.  Drop KL does this by offering regional American cuisine, with a modern twist. So no matter where in America you come from, you’ll be sure to find a taste from home,” said Jill Nanne, President of AAM as she officiated the soft launch.

Drop KL is the latest Modern American casual dining restaurant and lounge to open in KL and offers customers the opportunity to Eat, Drink and Drop in TREC. Malaysians are invited to take “A Journey for the Senses” and taste Modern American slow-cooking methods, molecular beverages and international hospitality standards. Brainchild of Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and renowned music DJ Joel Lai, Certified Sommelier Alison Christ and Executive Chef Tim Jay, the trio helm Drop hospitality group with investments of US$850,000 pledged over the next three years in Malaysia.

There are three different dining and drinking atmospheres at Drop KL; the main Zen-inspired casual dining room with private booths and high tables, a luxe black marble bar and a tropical alfresco area with views over the Royal Selangor Golf Club and KLCC Tower. An expansive yet-to-be-revealed rooftop bar will launch later in the year as part of Drop KL’s phase two. The ambiance has been created by renowned architect and interior designer Tracey Stoute who worked under the late Zaha Hadid and Sir Norman Foster before setting up his own practice, the award-winning Hong Kong firm EightSixThree. The 3,000 sq.ft. Drop KL marks a first in Malaysia for the firm after laying down plans for Drop Hong Kong, Apple, BMW, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier and Zegna among other projects.

“In building a global brand such as Drop, we chose Malaysia as our first overseas outlet due to its location in the region as a hub for business and leisure travellers. We are also impressed by Malaysia’sdesire to raise hospitality and tourism standards and are eager to play a part in fulfilling that vision with our friendly and professional team,” said General Manager Alison Christ.

Executive Chef Tim Jay (TJay) presents the art of slow-food cooking and is influenced by European, Asian and Latin American heritage from North America, sourced from the freshest local ingredients from Asia Pacific.

“I’ve incorporated flavors from traditional dishes while I was growing up in the US”, said Chef TJay. “The menu is influenced from my travels to the Middle East and Asia with a little homage to my Italian roots.”

The Real Deal Mac and Cheese
The Real Deal Mac and Cheese

The menu features house-made flatbreads with toppings such as stewed rabbit, grilled artichokes and Taleggio cheese, or the blue cheese, miso smoked duck and goose foie gras version. Other highlights include The Real Deal Mac and Cheese – a creamy mainstay with five cheeses, Go Ask Alice – a rabbit stew served with roasted with red peppers in chickpea ‘Sope’ and the Creole Sweet Potato Pie – a medley of seafood  in sauce nantua and gratineed sweet potatoes and the Japanese Wagyu strip served with Yuzu pickles. All food served is pork-free.

Guests are invited to drop in for a taste of drinks originating from distilleries in all four corners of the globe. The Drop KL Aperitivo Hour from 5pm-8pm offers quality molecular beverages handcrafted by professional barman Tim Clark. For wine connoisseurs, Certified Sommelier Alison Christ has handpicked a selection of natural, biodynamic and organic wines to pair with your dinner. Before midnight, the main dining room transforms to serve chilled out tunes, fantastic voyages back to old school disco, or dancers breaking alongside Detroit deep house beats. Drop KL offers room for discovery and creativity as our music and entertainment component will be curated by founder Joel Lai himself, who has decades of experience as one of Asia’s best DJ’s and promoters of quality music.

One Texas de Brazil Churrascaria Inside Missouri

Texas de Brazil Churrascaria opens its first Missouri location  at the Saint Louis Galleria in the inner-ring suburb of Richmond Heights. The family-owned Brazilian-American steakhouse brand now has 57 restaurant locations in 20 states and seven countries worldwide.

Texas de Brazil celebrates its grand opening in the Saint Louis Galleria.

“We’re very happy to welcome guests to our new location in the bustling Saint Louis Galleria and the community of Richmond Heights,” says Salim Asrawi, Chief Operating Officer for the Brazilian-American steakhouse brand. “We look forward to treating visitors and locals alike to the authentic Brazilian churrasco and genuine service we are dedicated to providing every day,” he adds.

 The new 6,500 square-foot restaurant accommodates over 200 guests in an inviting environment that features an expansive salad area, an open grill kitchen, a feature table, wine cellar, an intimate lounge, and a private dining room for up to 35 guests. Guests are also treated to a continuous dining experience that showcases freshly-grilled meats on skewers carved tableside by costumed gauchos. At all Texas de Brazils, gauchos use the time-honored methods of grilling meats over charcoal, resulting in savory aroma and exceptional flavor.  Selections range from succulent Brazilian picanha (sirloin), lamb chops, leg of lamb, filet mignon, chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, and Parmesan-crusted pork loin, to Brazilian sausages and more

World’s Longest Cheeseboard

Wisconsin is making cheese history at SXSW by creating the world’s longest cheese board for attendees. The enormous cheese board, top photo, features more than two thousand pounds and 100 different varieties of cheese from brands across the state.

“We wanted to let SXSW attendees embark on the ultimate cheese journey of flavor, texture, style and variety while recharging, relaxing and connecting,” says Suzanne Fanning, VP of Marketing Communications at Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. “Wisconsin artisan cheesemakers possess a rare combination of rich heritage and incredible innovation, and we’re excited to share their many award-winning cheeses with the world at SXSW.”

The board is over 70 feet long and features some of Wisconsin’s finest cheeses from caved-aged cheddars to fresh, squeaky curds and includes hand-rubbed wheels, blue-veined cheddars, stinky limburger and the 2017 US Cheese Champion, Sartori Black Pepper BellaVitano®. Special events in the lounge include a morning hangover remedy featuring a Bloody Mary bar and afternoon happy hours with expert-inspired wine and cheese pairings.

Participating cheese companies from Wisconsin include Artisan Cheese Exchange, Arena Cheese, BelGioioso®, Carr Valley Cheese, Caves of Faribault, Cedar Grove Cheese, Chalet Cheese, Comstock Creamery, Cow Candy, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Decatur Dairy, Edelweiss Creamery, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Roth Cheese, Hook’s Cheese, LaClare Family Creamery, Maple Leaf Cheese, Marieke Gouda, Norseland Cheese, Odyssey Feta, Pine River Pre-Pack, Prairie Farms, Red Barn Family Farms, Roelli Cheese, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Sartori Cheese, Saxon™ Creamery, Schuman Cheese, Specialty Cheese, Swiss Valley, Uplands Cheese, V&V Supremo, Widmer’s Cheese, Winona Foods and Wisconsin Cheese Group. Meat provided by Columbus Foods.

The giant cheese board is built inside a wooden barn that was created with digital fabrication tool technology (basically a giant printer for wood) by urban design nonprofit Better Block.

Wisconsin cheesemakers stole the spotlight at the World Championship Cheese Contest, winning more awards than any other U.S. state or country. Five of the top 20 global cheese finalists in contention for World Champion were from Wisconsin. 

This year’s contest drew a record-breaking 3,402 entries, 15 percent more than the 2016 competition, in 120 categories from 26 countries and 32 U.S. states. Wisconsin captured 40.5 percent of all awards, winning 147 awards in total – five times more than its closest competitor, New York, with 26 awards, followed by Switzerland and The Netherlands with 19 awards each.

Wisconsin cheesemakers won 49 Best of Class Awards, 51 second place, and 47 third place awards. Wisconsin also swept 22 of the 120 competition classes: Traditional Waxed Cheddar, Sharp to Aged; Parmesan; Aged Asiago (over 6 months); Feta; Brick, Muenster; Havarti; Havarti, Flavored; Gouda, Mild; Smoked Gouda; Brie; Latin American Style Melting Cheeses; Paneer; Open Class: Semi-soft (Semi-hard) Cheeses; Open Class: Flavored Cheeses with Sweet or ‘Dessert’ Condiments; Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food; Cold Pack Cheese Spread; Spreadable Natural Cheeses, Flavored; Flavored Soft & Semi-soft (Semi-hard) Sheep’s Milk Cheeses; Lowfat Yogurt- Cow’s Milk; Flavored High Protein – Cow’s Milk; Open Class Shredded Cheese Blends, Flavored & Unflavored; Natural Snack Cheese.

Ten Wisconsin cheese companies won five or more total awards in the competition: Klondike Cheese Co. (12 awards), BelGioioso® Cheese Inc. (8 awards), Schuman Cheese (7 awards), Saxon™ Creamery (6 awards), Lactalis (6 awards), Sartori Cheese (5 awards), Carr Valley Cheese (5 awards), Emmi Roth USA(5 awards), Marieke® Gouda (5 awards), Yodelay Yogurt (5 awards).