Solving the riddle of a dream bar

Solving the riddle of a dream bar

Through a hidden door tucked behind a moving bookcase, step the customers who know the game. But before they can pass through a wall to enter the funky subterranean world of Bitter & Pour, a riddle must be answered. The question? That they find out at the door. And once the answer is given and the bookcase slides open, the many pleasures of craft cocktails and impeccable wine become accessible, says Andrew Ferguson, general manager of Bitter & Pour LLC…

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Baldacci vineyard chills out with new wine cave

Baldacci vineyard chills out with new wine cave

The sunlight streams past a knoll on the Baldacci Family Estate Vineyards, glinting off rows of grapes growing lustily in the Stags Leap soil of Napa Valley. In photographs, the mood of mellow beauty and natural harmony evoke feelings of a day well lived, and expectation of a soothing sip of nectar, which in the case of the industrious family vineyard, is its prized Cabernet Sauvignon. “As stewards of the land and keepers of the grape, we can cultivate, shape,…

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Humble beginnings, sparkling finish

Humble beginnings, sparkling finish

No job was ever too small for Hannah Hopkins. As a restaurant newbie many years ago, her hands were often sunk into hot, sudsy water scrubbing plates until they sparkled. As she cleaned, she absorbed the atmosphere of a busy kitchen, and let’s just say, soaked it all in. “I guess you could say I went to the school of hard knocks,” jokes the owner of Mambo and Bésame, thriving sister operations in Steamboat Springs, Colo. “I went from doing…

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Saying buh-bye to microwave airport meals

Saying buh-bye to microwave airport meals

The days of microwaved meals and peanuts in a bag are over for flight-weary travelers thanks in large part to licensing deals that bring comfort brands to heavily trafficked airports. “Airline passengers are more sophisticated than ever and they’re looking for dining experiences to match higher expectations,” says Seth Merin, vice president of operations, Air Ventures, LLC. In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Merin discusses the business of bringing high-value hospitality to airports. Q: In a…

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Beefing up seating capacity without costly renno

Beefing up seating capacity without costly renno

Twelve years in, Salvatore Scarlata looked around his popular New Jersey restaurant and thought, “We’re going to need a bigger place.” “Everyone wanted to come in for dinner at Vidalia Restaurant the same time, during the prime-time hour around 7 p.m.,” says the award-winning restauranteur. “It got to be a bit of a challenge.” And closing the doors against all that business lining up for a table at his Lawrenceville, N.J. eatery was not an option. In this week’s Q&A…

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Lesson from the lobster pot: selling what people want

Lesson from the lobster pot: selling what people want

Near the pristine mountains and crashing seascape of Acadia National Park sits a humble restaurant that turns sweet, tender lobster meat into restaurant gold. The Union River Lobster Pot Restaurant in Ellsworth, Maine isn’t fancy. There’s always a line to get in. And they don’t do takeout. But what longtime owner Brian Langley delivers on the plate is the meal Maine tourists and locals will wait patiently for: lobster, blueberry pie, and a water view. “When I first opened the…

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Farm-to-table strikes gold in NJ

Farm-to-table strikes gold in NJ

The first thing Adam Acerra learned when he opened a farm-to-table concept in Long Island was that he and his partners needed to keep it simple. While true that the first plates created by head chef Chuck Treadwell in Market Bistro’s kitchen could rival fine dining anywhere, the customers flowing into the rustic bistro in Jericho, N.Y. wanted something a little more casual. “And we listened to them,” he says. “Our menu was a little too elevated in the beginning…

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Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid inspire NH hole in the wall

Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid inspire NH hole in the wall

Thinking “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” way back when, a husband/wife hospitality team “got out of Dodge” (technically they left Dedham, Mass.) and headed to North Conway, N.H. to build a thriving restaurant where the air was clean, the vibe friendly, and the nearest big city many miles away. “When we decided to move north, we’d already been working our whole lives in the Boston hospitality business,” says Richard Delaney, of Delaney’s Hole in the Wall of North Conway,…

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A big risk in cowboy town pays off

A big risk in cowboy town pays off

One day while working in the media/marketing sector, Suzanne Tarbet  picked her head up from her computer, looked around the charming community of Redmond, Ore., and thought, “What if?” “I’d spent my entire career in media and marketing management helping my clients perfect their own brand. And I’d always dreamed of creating a brand for myself,” she says. With  no time like the present to strike out on a new venture, the foodie with a trained eye for color, fabric,…

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Glasshalfull toasts a smooth finish

Glasshalfull toasts a smooth finish

The financial crisis of 2007/2008 was just getting started as James Wald of North Carolina swung open the doors to his new wine bar & restaurant, Glasshalfull. He admits the timing could have been better. “It wasn’t the best time to start a business,” Wald says. “And I’m not sure how good of a job we did that first year.” But by playing the cards they were dealt, he and his staff played offered creative options to diners feeling the…

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