Reservationships, Tampa dominationship, Permanent Bokations, and more...
Family Meal - Friday, May 12, 2023
First: A quick heads up that I’ve decided to go down to one day a week for the next couple of months and pause paid subscriptions during that time.
Nothing changes for the free subscribers among you!
My note to paying subscribers on the reasons is at bottom, if you’re interested. And if you’ve ever thought about sponsoring the restaurant newsletter read by all the most important people in the U.S. industry and the media that covers it… email@example.com.
Playing catchup this week…
Let’s get to it…
The Restaurantationships – God help us. Per a copywriter: “Reservationships grow on Resy.” Per Kristen Hawley in Expedite: “The new campaign is marketed as giving diners some sort of inside edge on restaurants and reservations. It’s also a way for Resy to build up its network of diners and hawk products like its payments feature, Resy Pay, while acting as some sort of hip reservations broker.”
We are not calling whatever this is a reservationship, but the media has certainly picked up on the, uh, guest intel(?) movement. Headline in CNBC: “Restaurants embrace premium reservations to target big spenders.” Wherein SevenRooms Chief Product Officer Allison Page tells reporter Amelia Lucas, “It’s making sure the restaurant is getting the right body in the doors, whether that’s customers that visit frequently or have a higher average spend per cover.”
“I don’t got the bright body, I got the right body. I don’t buy out the bar, I buy the night spot.” - Jay Z
And Eater’s Stephanie Ganz asks, “Do We Have to Subscribe to Restaurants, Too?” The answer is mostly a rumination on pandemic-era revenue diversification, but there’s a guest intel angle too: “Subscriptions are also an important way for brands to learn more about their customers. For marketing pros, data is king, and one way to collect it is through customers opting in. For $6.99 per month, P.F. Chang’s Platinum Rewards Program allows its members to jump to the head of the reservation line, accrue double the points on purchases compared to their unpaid Gold membership, and to participate in ‘insider panels…[to] help shape the future of P.F. Chang’s.’”
(NB: If you are Platinum P.F. and do not shout “More crab, less wrapper!” at every insider panel, we are enemies.)
And if you’re looking for your sweet spot in the competitive landscape somewhere above $6.99 per month, place yourself on a spectrum between P.F. Chang’s and Dominique Crenn’s restaurant group, which is now charging $5,800 per couple per year for access to reservations, “a seasonal gift box,” and “a dedicated Crenn Concierge service for any Crenn requests, and professional advice from Crenn leaders on wine, food and cocktails.”
So… How are those reservationships going for Resy? This was their greeting for me when I went to look at the big reservationships announcement:
Welcome to Resy! We know where you are! Go somewhere else!
Michelin Season – The 2023 guide is out in Florida, with the starred list remaining the same except for four new one-stars: Koya, Rocca, and Lilac in Tampa, and Tambourine Room in Miami. Official announcement here.
The Departed – “After a spate of bad reviews for Le Select, the stunningly designed French restaurant that debuted in January in River North, Boka Restaurant Group has parted ways with star chef Daniel Rose in an equally stunning move four months after opening.” Eater’s Ashok Selvam reports, “Chicago-based Boka announced the move via a news release and didn’t make co-founders Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm available to interview. Boka and Rose also collaborated on a restaurant in LA called Café Basque inside the Hoxton hotel. Critics reacted lukewarmly to Le Select, with Michael Nagrant dubbing the restaurant ‘Le Mid.’ Shortly after opening, opening chef de cuisine Jason Heiman departed.”
Tell PR – Eater sites are doing their sporadic “Want to write for Eater?” dance, which means now is the opportunity for restaurants to play the “Hey freelancer, want to write a story about me for Eater?” game. Good luck! (I see recent calls for contributors in Houston and Miami, but assume they’re lookin everywhere…).
And last but not least: For TV Fans – Heads up via Ashok Selvam again at Eater Chicago: “The Bear… will return for a 10-episode second season starting on Thursday, June 22 and streamable via Hulu.”
Guess they got everything done before the writer’s strike, and Season 2 is… wait for it… in the can.
I’m so sorry.
But that’s it for today!
I’ll see everyone back here on Friday for next Family Meal.
And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and send tips and/or a dedicated Crenn concierge service for any Crenn requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to sponsor this newsletter, send me a note! And if you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself!
P.S. - Here’s my note from Tuesday about pausing Family Meal’s paid side for a bit and going down to one day a week. Thanks so much to everyone who wrote in with kind words. I assure you all is well!
Today is an unusual Family Meal in that there is no news. Or, there is one bit of news:
I am pausing paid subscriptions and taking Family Meal to one day a week for the next two months.
I will do my best to put extra energy into my Twitter and Instagram, so if you’re looking for my endless wit throughout the week, please follow me there. And I’m hoping to get back to recording podcasts ASAP.
But for now, a pause.
If you’re curious, there are three main reasons:
The transition from the last several incredibly newsy years to what feels like a lull, contraction, and shift in restaurant media — some ways good! some ways meh — plus a movement toward recipes-recipes-recipes has made it hard to always find enough news to make two days a week work. I need to figure out what does work. And what’s good for you. I hate sending fluff.
Someone wrote to me recently to tell me I didn’t work hard enough on Family Meal and couldn’t hack it in the kitchen because I don’t have hustle. I definitely couldn’t hack it in the kitchen these days! But… I have a full time job that is not this newsletter. It requires some extra attention for the foreseeable future.
I have a creative project revolving around restaurants that I’m going to work on in whatever spare time I can find. More on that later… I hope!
TLDR: There is not enough (Family Meal style) news in the cycle lately, and there are not enough hours in the day.
That said, I will definitely see you here on Fridays — for free!
Thank you so much for supporting this newsletter until now. The best is yet to come.
(And if for some reason the money-to-value ratio doesn’t work out for your subscription after this break, I will make sure to make everyone whole. Don’t worry.)
Your friend in Hong Kong who talks to you about restaurants from time to time,