LA star chefs re-imagine the drive-thru for the fine-dining set

Ten of L.A.’s most beloved restaurants will come together to serve diners—in a way that you’ve never experienced them before, designed with COVID precautions in mind.

In partnership with American Express® Gold Card, Resy is transforming the exterior of the Hollywood Palladium into a whimsical labyrinth, which you’ll drive through to visit each restaurant pop-up. Don’t worry about leaving your car; each dish will be handed to you at each local restaurant’s pit stop. -Resy

Restaurants have had to reinvent themselves during Covid, with fine dining hit particularly hard since its value prop comes largely from the atmosphere and experience it creates, which is very difficult to replicate under covid restrictions.

From Fast Company:

The restaurant industry has been pummeled by the pandemic, prompting a wave of creative new dining ideas across the country, from bars offering carry-0ut cocktail mixes to pizzerias transforming into produce stands. Now, 10 well-known Los Angeles chefs are joining forces in an ambitious new experiment.

On October 15 and 16, restaurant tech platform Resy is hosting a 10-course drive-through dinner at the Hollywood Palladium catered by these chefs that could be a model for bringing high-end restaurants back to life. “This could be done in any city,” says Mei Lin, chef and owner of Nightshade. “It would require organization and logistics, but it’s possible.”

The event, called the Resy Drive Thru, is sponsored by American Express. Diners will stay in their cars and move through a track made up of 10 stations, where they’ll be served one course prepared by each of the 10 restaurants.

Guests will be served food in single-use containers and given a tray to eat on, which is theirs to keep. Each car will have its own designated waiter who will guide them through the process. (All event personnel will wear gloves, masks, and face shields; they’ll also be tested for COVID-19 before they arrive at the event, and will have their temperature taken at the door.) The entire experience costs $95 per person, and can be purchased in groups of up to four in a single vehicle. There is room for 600 guests over two nights.

It was obvious from the start that it wasn’t possible to mimic the charm or elegance of a dining room, but this project prompts chefs to think outside the box.ng

The dining industry is currently being devastated by COVID-19, particularly restaurants that don’t have pandemic-friendly options, like outdoor seating or take-out and delivery. The sector has already lost $120 billion and is expected to reach $240 billion by the end of the year. More than six million jobs have been permanently cut.

Why it’s hot: Fine dining is all about having a special experience that rises above the typical and the common. It’s interesting to see how these fine dining restaurants are trying to achieve that proposition during covid, and how they make — and sell — a unique experience to potential guests.

Source: Fast Company

Tech-forward restaurant designs open-source take-out “airlock” to protect workers

The San Fransisco tech-forward restaurant Creator has made their new airlock system (for providing take-out orders during the coronavirus crisis) open source for any other businesses that need to protect their workers from the many possibly infected people coming to their locations.

Makezine:

The chamber is pressurized by a Sanyo Denki 24-volt 65CFM blower regulated by simple LM317 voltage regulator circuit. The conveyor belt feeds itself through a 5 gallon bucket of quaternary sanitizing solution. Customers can order through an intercom, and their takeaway bags are heat-sealed and labeled with a tamperproof sticker just to be extra super sanitary.

Fast Company:

“Retail workers are on the front lines, exposed to hundreds of strangers every day in enclosed spaces,” says Creator founder Alex Vardakostas. “If retail workers fall ill, they are in turn at risk of infecting delivery workers and customers. We can’t restart the economy until retail and restaurant workers are protected. They’re some of the most important people to keep virus-free.”

This falls directly in Creator’s wheelhouse, as they are known for being the first to automate the making of a fully prepared burger with the beautiful machine above. Fast-moving innovations like the airlock promote the restaurant brand as a function of doing good for their workers, which is of such concern with service workers right now, and gives customers more piece of mind as they look for safe places to procure food and have a sense of normalcy in these difficult times.

Fast Company:

The restaurant’s team has unusual engineering skills—when Creator opened in 2018, it became the first in the world to make fully prepared burgers with a robot that handles everything from slicing the bun and cooking the patty to chopping up onions and tomatoes. For customers in the current pandemic, there’s some added comfort in the fact that the process minimizes human contact; the machine even packages each burger itself. But the storefront still needs staff to get the food to customers waiting to pick it up, and last week, engineers and fabricators set to work on the new airlock-like window.

Why it’s hot:

1. The world needs fast-moving innovation right now, and there’s nothing like giving your innovation away for free to garner media recognition and positive public sentiment. The earned media from their design and their gesture will pique the interest of many, who will discover even cooler offerings coming out of the brand’s innovative approach — like a $6 gourmet burger in San Fransisco.

2. Making this design open-source may help other restaurants move quickly to implement solutions that work for them — but it mostly promotes the brand as being next-level, and getting it hyped in publications like Fast Company.

What IP do brands have that could function in a similar way, helping the public in a way that shows off their unique offerings or abilities (instead of donating money), while garnering positive sentiment and media attention?

Source: Fast Company, Makezine

Consumers Dine Out More Amid Job Growth

A recent study by Visa Business and Economic Insights shows that consumer spending on restaurants has accelerated in recent years, thanks in part to strong growth in the job market, among other things.

According to the study, there is a direct correlation between increase in restaurant spend (especially among Millennials) and increase in jobs. It’s interesting to note that this sales increase in the restaurant segment is outpacing the growth of the overall retail sales, which indicates that, when it comes to retail spending, Americans (and especially Millennials) prioritize social/entertainment options like eating out, versus traditional retail spends that are more personal by nature, like fashion/clothing or personal care.

eat out

Another interesting learning shows that restaurant spending increased around the same time that gas prices plummeted, freeing up funds for discretionary spending. Restaurant credit spending growth began to accelerate in early 2014, with lower-income households (those earning less than $50,000/year) leading the way –the consumer group that benefited the most from the lower gas prices.

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Why is this hot?

The correlation between economy/jobs and spending is well known, but the fact that eating out, a social activity by nature, is outpacing other retail categories, indicates a preference for bonding and connecting, over more individual rewards.

Cupcake Vineyards Partners With Share Our Strength

wine

Cupcake Vineyards is kicking off a promo with Share Our Strength to lend support to its No Kid Hungry initiative.
The northern California winemaker will donate $1 for each mobile visit to a dedicated microsite to support No Kid Hungry’s important mission. The effort runs through June at restaurant locations nationwide, including a selection of independent restaurants and regional chains. Marketing collateral in restaurants will encourage both patrons and employees to visit cupcake.nokidhungry.org via their mobile devices. For every visit to the site, Cupcake Vineyards will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry, up to the donation goal of $75,000.

Why It’s Hot

The campaign will be supported on Cupcake Vineyard’s social media platforms — including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest — with geo-targeted posts.

This is the brand’s first initiative with Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger organization.

Fighting hunger is a cause we can all feel passionate about and Cupcake Winery has created a campaign that should resonate well with their customers. Their target audience are Millennials, who do place a larger emphasis on affiliation with a cause than any other generation and also enjoy eating out more than any other age group. With the combination of feeling good by donating to a charity and enjoying a meal at a restaurant, these young adults should embrace this promotion. Cause marketing is very effective on social media and Cupcake Vineyards is hoping that this is a simple convenient way to support this iniative. No purchase of wine is even required. Cheers!

Scent-Diffusing App Let’s Patrons Smell The Food Before They Order

Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of the triple Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant Mugaritz wants to reinvent the idea of “Smell-O-Vision” and let his potential customers sample his dishes through sights as well as smell. He’s hoping to do this with the help of a smartphone attachment called Scentee.

Currently, Scentee is a small balloon-shaped device that attaches to the headphone jack of most smart phones. The Chef hopes to work with the company to create a new app that allows users looking through his menu to receive a burst of fragrance from the Scentee attachment.

The potential for this new feature could extend to other social sharing apps that have high food image related content like Instagram and Pinterest.

Read more here. 

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Scentee Attachment (Video)

Why It’s Hot

Food is a sensuous experience. Up until now, restaurants have only had the ability to lure in potential customers with extravagant item descriptions and high intensity food photography. With the introduction of the Scentee attachment, it seems as though visuals and appetizing text just isn’t enough – there’s a want to smell and add another dimension of desire to try a new dish. This is something that restaurants can use to their advantage when promoting new products, new menus and represent themselves as an innovator in the competitive market.