Today’s guest post is by George Christakos, owner of The Brooklyn Warehouse and winner of the 2009 CYBF Atlantic Canada Best Business Award.
Food is a very personal and subjective thing, and at The Brooklyn Warehouse we strive to create remarkable experiences for our customers that are centered around this connection to food. In order to create this unique experience we are continually researching how we can bring something new and notable to our guests.
Myself, my father Leo, and our head chef Graeme travel to big city food meccas to check out the local food scene and bring back new ideas for our market. We try to do it at least once a year, and these trips have really helped to define the style of our business. Our travels have included Montreal, Toronto, New York, Portland Maine, and just about every other city via the magic of the Internet!
Big cities have always inspired our vision for what The Brooklyn Warehouse should be. It is these big cities that are at the forefront of culinary advancement, where the cookbooks are coming from, where the magazine articles are coming from, where the big name chefs are putting up restaurants. Being able to immerse ourselves in these food meccas via the Internet, periodicals and on the ground food tours let’s us get into the pulse of a city and see what is happening there and why. This information is invaluable to understanding where our industry is heading and how we can stay relevant and innovative in our ever evolving trade.
By taking the time to walk the streets of a city, to ask the locals their recommendations, to sit and relax and immerse yourself in an establishment as a guest is a liberating experience. The research that we do on these trips encompasses everything from menu ideas, to graphic design, to uniforms, to attitude, to marketing ideas, and just about everything else you can imagine about the restaurant world. These trips usually last about 4 or 5 days but are the culmination of months of research and planning. In May we hit over 30 places in Brooklyn and Manhattan giving us a very good understanding of what the restaurant scene is about there and now.
What we learn on these food trips is filtered for our market and then applied either on the menu as new products, or revealed in a change in service attitude, or applied to the environment so that we create a richer atmosphere and experience for our customer.
Like a musician making an album, it is important to create something that relates to the listener, but that has not been done before. This is the approach that we take with our menus. Something we call comfortable change. Taking people out of their comfort zone by getting them to try new types of food that are akin to something that they know and love. This innovation speaks to the “young at heart”, and from day one or brand has resonated not with one particular demographic but more in terms of psychographics, it’s all about the attitude of mind.