Case Studies

 

[CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT + INSTALLATION + MANAGEMENT / FINE DINING]

The Client: A luxury hotel and spa in Alexandria, Va.

The Directive: To install a fine-dining restaurant, an upscale casual cafe, and a butcher shop in order to distinguish the property as a destination for sophisticated travelers

The Work:

  • Designed both the restaurant and cafe kitchens, in conjunction with an architect design firm, along with the spaces for those two operations and the butcher shop
  • Hired, staffed, and trained all employees for the three operations
  • Researched, developed, and designed the dishes for the two restaurants, and selected the meats, cheeses, and other edibles for the butcher shop
  • Selected the vendors and purveyors who would supply the meats, produce, fish and seafood, herbs and spices, wine and beer, and spirits; chose all plates, flatware, glassware, tablecloths, and napkins
  • Managed the three operations

The Result: An immediate critical and commercial success, the property garnered attention from both local and national media, including The Washington Post, Food and Wine, and The Daily Meal. Among other honors, its pastry chef was recognized as a rising star by Star Chefs


[CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT + INSTALLATION + MANAGEMENT / UPSCALE FAST CASUAL]

The Client: Reagan National Airport

The Directive: To install an upscale but approachable restaurant in an empty space in the terminal of the nation’s airport

The Work:

  • Researched the history of dining at the airport through the years and conducted a study of the current national market in upscale casual
  • Developed recipes and designed dishes based in part on those findings
  • Hired an executive chef and kitchen team
  • Installed the menu and drilled them, over a period of weeks, to achieve consistency of execution
  • Managed the operation

The Result: The restaurant became, in short order, a popular destination for busy, sophisticated travelers


[CHEF VETTING + PLACEMENT]

The Client: A five-star hotel in Washington, D.C.

The Directive: To find the perfect fit for a new, luxury destination — a talented, name chef capable of drawing diners from far and wide, but one who also understands how to control the numbers and work within a team

The Work:

  • Reached out to our vast network of industry contacts, tapping sources from around the country for recommendations
  • Vetted candidates — screening, interviewing and, in conjuction with ownership, overseeing chef demonstrations
  • After six weeks, selected the best candidate and installed him in his post

The Result: The restaurant earned a spot on the city’s Best Restaurants list in its first year, as well as commendations from many national publications, including Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast, and Eater


[MENU REVISION + DISH RE-DEVELOPMENT + WINE PROGRAM REVAMP]

The Client: A Michelin-starred hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C.

The Directive: To transform a special occasion restaurant into a more exciting, playful, and relevant destination that will finally become part of the conversation

The Work:

  • Revamped the two tasting menus, renaming dishes, creating hooks, and withholding lengthy ingredient lists — all to create a document that encourages diners to engage more with their servers
  • Overhauled the wine book, making it a more approachable, engaging document by adding new categories, creating tasting notes that express the sommelier’s personality, and relegating hundreds of bottles to a private reserve list
  • Working with the executive chef, reconceived what had been technically excellent cuisine with an Old World, European bent and transforming it into dramatic, playful, interactive dining that is thoroughly contemporary and in the vanguard of American fine dining

The Result: Sales increased by 30% over the the year before


[SECRET SHOPPING + OPERATIONAL DIAGNOSTICS]

The Client: A mid-level neighborhood restaurant in Richmond, Va.

The Directive: To give a struggling, directionless restaurant a clear vision

The Work:

  • Conducted a thorough audit of operations
  • Undertook a multi-visit diagnostic of the restaurant in prime time to assess the menu, inadequacies on the line, issues in communication, and problems in execution and pacing
  • Met with owner, chef and staff to discuss the findings in the 20-page report, which emphasized tightening the menu’s focus and maximizing the particular talents of the kitchen crew

The Result: The restaurant, after a rocky first six months, has found its groove: it was recognized, late this year, by the city’s leading magazine as one of the Best Restaurants in the region


[TRIAGE + RESCUE]

The Client: A cafe and community fixture in a Maryland suburb

The Directive: To save a beloved institution from going under

The Work:

  • Tapping our vast network of connections, negotiated deals with a new bakery and a coffee roaster, reducing food costs and making it feasible for the all-day operation to continue to be open for breakfast
  • Revamped the menu, taking it from 37 items to 12, and turning a scattershot and wildly eclectic focus into a strong, clear theme (contemporary American cooking with a local, seasonal emphasis)
  • Added a late-night bar menu to augment the nationally recognized music program, maximiziong the one aspect of the operation that was profitable
  • Brought food and labor costs down from a combined high of 82% to 60%
  • Hired and installed a new executive chef

The Result: After more than a year of losing money every month, the cafe has stabilized, and looks to be on solid ground going forward


[NARRATIVE DESIGN + MARKETING CAMPAIGN]

The Client: A sophisticated bistro in Washington, D.C., with three locations in the region

The Directive: To improve the restaurants’ social media presence

The Work:

  • Conducted bi-weekly media coaching workshops for staff and GMs, including sessions in photography, crafting narratives, and effective posting
  • Created weekly posting dockets for each GM, complete with posting parameters, schedules, thematic tags, and various narrative forms
  • Devised an ongoing campaign for each restaurant, transforming their multiple platform feeds from simply delivering information and hyping their businesses to being also educational and entertaining — in short, repositioning each restaurant as a reliable purveyor of engaging, insightful media content
  • Provided editing services, rewriting and revising posts before they went live

The Result: The Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds became markedly more dynamic and engaging, and ownership has witnessed a 17% spike in business