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Author: Susan Salk

The restaurant farmer

The restaurant farmer

When Boxerbrand’s blog catches up with Blaze Restaurant Group owner Matty Haskell, the visionary farm-to-table entrepreneur, he’s clad in work boots and surveying the land and animals on one of his working farms. So busy visiting his cattle and hog farms in Maine, Haskell misses a couple of phone interviews before sending a quick text: “I’m so sorry! I’m at the farm. Can we talk at 10 a.m., for real this time?” The Mainer is about as real as it…

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Life is a cabaret at Hotel Carmichael

Life is a cabaret at Hotel Carmichael

The vision to create a grand, luxury-boutique hotel to nurture Carmel, Ind.’s vibrant performing arts and American music scene, was first glimpsed 25 years ago through the long lens of official planning. The goal was to help anchor the community’s future as an important arts and cultural destination. No detail to luxury or ties with the rich musical tradition went unfulfilled in the planning of Hotel Carmichael’s 114 guest rooms, eight suites, meeting rooms named and decorated for legendary artists…

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New customers up 70 percent at Hilton Head bistro

New customers up 70 percent at Hilton Head bistro

A Hilton Head brother-sister team who took over their father’s French-American concept four years ago, managed to increase new-customer traffic this year by 70 percent. Utilizing communication tools such as Constant Contact, as well as all the social media channels, and benefitting from the “game changing” spotlight of Open Table, business at Charlie’s L’etoile Verte in Hilton Head, N.C. has been terrific, says Charlie Golson’s daughter Margaret Pearman. “Open Table was a huge game-changer for us,” says Pearman, a certified…

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Rocking Miami scene without missing a beat

Rocking Miami scene without missing a beat

As the Minister of Culture for Miami’s hotel hotspot Urbanica at the Euclid Hotel, Sexton Garcia has developed a reputation for attracting and retaining customers with his gregarious charisma.  Featured in a lengthy Q&A with Portray magazine prior to the pandemic measures, Garcia was cited in a “best of” series on the Miami scene. Most specifically noted for being “the most gregarious guy in Miami.” So, when Sexton paired up with renowned Argentine chef Fernando Trocca to open new concept…

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Established restaurant pivots to wine club biz

Established restaurant pivots to wine club biz

Domaćin Restaurant of Stillwater, MN was doing a strong business for over a decade when it was shut down by pandemic  regulations. And it roared back to life as a new and popular wine club with delivery service. In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Domaćin’s brand ambassador Chris Kohtz discusses how the restaurant made lemonade from the proverbial lemons.  BB: How did covid inspire the creators of Domaćin? CK: It has “grounded” us in the best sense of…

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‘They said to dance, so we danced’

‘They said to dance, so we danced’

Three months after opening their Latin-Mediterranean bistro Piripi, named for the Spanish word for “tipsy,” Victoria and Hugo Meyer were dizzy with mandates and pivots. Servers became delivery drivers; a parking lot became the dining room; and suddenly they were packing up high-end scallop dinners with free champagne in to go containers—something they never wanted to do. “They wanted us to dance, so we danced,” says Victoria Meyer, co-owner of the 4,000 square foot concept in Erie, Colo. Along with…

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Soldiering on at the beaches of Maryland

Soldiering on at the beaches of Maryland

The darkest hours washed over an Ocean City waterfront craft-beer and unique dining concept, as pandemic closures overtook the nation. “Those first couple of weeks were the hardest,” says Zev Sibony, owner, 45th Street Taphouse Bar & Grille. The Taphouse is a high-end craft beer and scratch-made dining concept, the absolute jewel of a five-restaurant chain built near the beaches of Ocean City, Md.  “But once we figured out the best deals to entice people to come and eat with…

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Idaho Falls ‘crazy chef’ sees light at end of tunnel

Idaho Falls ‘crazy chef’ sees light at end of tunnel

When asked how he survived the past year in the restaurant biz, Idaho Falls restauranteur Jay Drahota, owner of 11-year-old concept D’Railed, chuckles and begins: “Gather round, for I have a story to tell.” The self-taught chef/owner of a thriving concept, serving A-5 Japanese Wagyu steak, Hungarian pork Mangalista, and 26-ounce Maine lobster could not have dreamed up bigger battles to wage.  And he does it all from an 1800s Union Pacific railroad building; purchased and converted. Adding to the…

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Seattle food truck creperie reborn in Florida

Seattle food truck creperie reborn in Florida

Debi Hernandez doesn’t sugar coat it. Running her Crisp Creperie concept in the middle of pandemic measures was, in a word, “rough.” But when the Cape Coral, Fla. chef/owner thinks about how bad things might have been, she is thankful every day: thankful that in 2019 and pre-pandemic, she was able to relocate her burgeoning food-truck business from Seattle, to the business-friendly state of Florida. “We were opened (in FL) for a little more than a year when we were…

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El Paso concepts works magic with “to-go” pivot

El Paso concepts works magic with “to-go” pivot

Three different Texas concepts, from high-end to casual, survived lockdown by pulling their oars in unison in the lifeboat of “to-go” dining. All meals, whether they were crafted at the high-end Cafe Central in El Paso or were produced in the kitchens of Famous Dave’s BBQ or the West Texas Chop House, were instantly transitioned. “The first thing we did was to improve our websites at all three of our restaurants to accommodate all-night ordering,” says Maricarmen Ramos, comptroller, Triple…

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