For dessert in the one-week membership plan at American Elm: Nilla Wafer Buttermilk Pie, made with brown butter whipped cream, pickled strawberry, and candied pecan. (Provided by Brent Turnipseede, American Elm)
A few years ago, no one would have considered ordering a subscription to a neighborhood restaurant. But after a year of downtime, low capacity, and kitchens that only serve takeout, restaurant membership has become a reality.
“The shutdown really forced us to innovate and think outside the box in order to survive, and that made us really throw a lot against the wall to see what was sticking,” said the American elm owner Bob Reiter, who started offering weekly family meals, go. “It turned out to be very well received for bringing the American Elm experience to people’s homes.”
Now American Elm is the newest in a handful of Denver restaurants to offer monthly member services to customers. This allows guests to receive exclusive monthly meals for two or four people with tasting notes. For example, a month might include artichoke panzanella, fried trout, and a cast iron chocolate pudding cake. It starts at $ 65 for a two-person serving and $ 125 for a four-person serving. Cocktail membership starts at $ 42 and offers four, six, or eight bottle take-away cocktails, curated each month by bar manager Jesse Torres, with instructions and appropriate decorations. The wine club is $ 85 for the four bottle club per month and depends on how many bottles and what tier of wine you want.
Colorado Striped Bass Crudo, made with watermelon aguachile, serrano pepper, cucumber, pressed melon and puffed farro. (Provided by Brent Turnipseede, American Elm)
Member service is something that rider’s demand for his restaurant’s already popular to-go program has met. Even after the restrictions eased, he wanted to continue that service, and when introduced to Sam Bernstein, the founder and CEO of Table 22, he found another way to push the on-the-go offerings.
“It felt like a natural evolution of what we had done last year and we took the chance to work with Table 22,” said Reiter. “My gut tells me that people will really enjoy these offers and will appreciate the cadence. I know to myself and my wife, with two young children and full-time jobs, that we are very excited to have a date night at home every month without having to plan it or really think about it. “
Bernstein founded Table 22 in the Spring of 2020 and operates the company out of Austin, Texas and Brooklyn, NY. He came up with the idea for the company after speaking to restaurants across the country and hearing about all the problems with the restaurant industry in General. “Low margins, unhealthy relationships with third-party delivery apps, lack of diversified revenue streams, and difficulty in scaling the brand beyond four walls” were among those issues.
While the pandemic brought many of these issues to light, Bernstein realized that they were protracted issues with the classic restaurant model. Subscriptions to the venues could bring stable, recurring revenues to restaurants and increase overall margins thanks to the predictability of sales.
Sam Bernstein, Founder of Table 22, on April 17, 2021 in Brooklyn. Bernstein’s company had an “existential crisis” when the coronavirus pandemic broke out. He made a tough turn and launched Table22, which allows restaurants and bars to create subscriptions. (Gili Benita, The New York Times, via Table 22)
One year after starting Table 22, Bernstein is now working with more than 150 restaurants in 55 cities.
“We were totally amazed at the innovations in restaurants, naturally sparked by a period of unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and felt that some of these new product offerings and ways to serve customers will stay here,” he told Bernstein via E -Mail regarding the abundance of meal sets, takeaway wine packs, grocery deliveries, and so on.
“We believed that subscriptions could provide structural solutions to some of these issues both during the pandemic and beyond, and could allow restaurants to launch these offers in the way that would be most beneficial for their businesses.”
At American Elm, Reiter sees the subscription model as beneficial to its customers as well, both for the convenience of the program and for the education that comes with it.
“One of the nice things about the restaurant experience is introducing you to new flavors, techniques, ingredients, spirits, etc. that you can’t have at home or use,” said Reiter. “With this program, we really want to take that to the next level by bringing these unique culinary and spiritual experiences to your dining table.”
There are three memberships to choose from at American Elm:
- Chef Brent Turnipseede’s fully prepared three-course menu offers classic dishes and seasonal specialties, sometimes with a theme. For example, a month might include artichoke panzanella, fried trout, and a cast iron chocolate pudding cake.
- Cocktails are also part of the plan if the subscriber so wishes, something that can be added or bought for yourself. The cocktail club offers bundles of four, six, and eight servings of the monthly cocktails as well as tasting notes and an edible gift behind the bar, like simple syrup or a fancy side dish.
- A wine club with a changing selection of wines curated each month by the American Elm team. Choose from two levels: lover or connoisseur. The former includes a four- or six-bottle option for $ 85 and $ 115, respectively, and covers wines from regions that the restaurant staff know and love. For the connoisseur membership, expect rarer wines that are hard to find. They cost $ 120 for four bottles or $ 155 for six. Both come with tasting notes and educational materials.
“We’re positioning this membership plan as a fun, engaging, and connection-oriented finish-at-home menu that highlights the seasonal and local produce that is in keeping with the American Elm brand,” said Turnipseede, who added the ingredients to Member Meals have a higher value than the weekly menu for meals, family take-away meals that change weekly and can be purchased at any time. “We hope this opens the door to lasting and lasting relationships through the experience of great food and drink.”
American Elm isn’t the only restaurant to have used Table 22’s membership services. One of the first to start this program was Downtown Rioja by Chef Jennifer Jasinski downtown.
Rioja started as a beta tester with the membership concept of Table 22 when it started last spring. After trying a few different options, Jasinski opted for a monthly wine membership that goes under the name The Rioja Collective. (Jennifer Olson, provided by Rioja)
Rioja started as a beta tester with Table 22 when it started last spring. After trying a few different options, Jasinski opted for a monthly wine membership that goes under the name The Rioja Collective. Subscription starts at $ 32 per month for a bottle of wine (three and five bottles are also available) and includes a kitchen treat to nibble on like rosemary goat cheese biscuits, a chef’s recipe, and a bottle of wine made to order Highlights region or grape variety from Spain or Portugal.
“When Sam first approached Rioja at the beginning of the lockdown, we looked for ideas that could be take-away while maintaining the image of excellence that Jen and (co-owner) Beth (Gruitch) have over the years developed, “he said to Matthew Brooks, operations manager of Crafted Concepts, which operates Rioja. “This program used the loyalty of the Rioja guests to the restaurant to create a win-win situation for the guests and the restaurant.”
The general nuances of how the membership program works are simple. The first step is to go online to table22.com and find the restaurant that you want to subscribe to. (This can be a little tricky as there is no obvious search engine, but they are each on the Other Locations tab.) Then select a membership and sign up. Each venue has its own order cut-off times and pick-up schedules, which are detailed on the restaurant’s features page.
Other restaurants that offer Table 22 member services include Urban Farmer and Goed Zuur, a spot in Five Points run by Chef Anthony Lopiccolo that offers sour beers and sausages.
As the service grows in popularity, Bernstein sees more and more restaurants pick it up. The idea, he said, is to generate stable, predictable revenues and higher margins, and to open up the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with guests beyond the four walls of a stationary restaurant. In an effort to change the service environment in general, all of these points are sure to resonate with many restaurant owners and chefs.
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