As far back as I can remember I’ve had a passion for food and for gatherings. I grew up in Boston making pepperoni sauce with my father every Sunday. In 1984, I very distinctly remember cooking steak tips, rice pilaf and salad with tomato roses for a high-school crush. By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to be a chef. I’ve spent every year since working toward the recent culmination of it all.

Since 2011, I’ve opened six restaurants throughout the Reno and Lake Tahoe area (Campo Reno, Burger Me Reno, chez louie, Campo Mammoth, Heritage and Reno Provisions). My most recent project, Reno Provisions, has become the absolute cornerstone of my businesses, as it acts as the supply chain for all of my other restaurants.

Reno Provisions opened in December 2014 and is our most multi-faceted property to-date. Upstairs, guests can dine in on daily specials, or purchase fresh packaged take-home ingredients. (read more…)

The popularity of craft and small-batch brews has been growing steadily, fueled in part by a growing awareness of the ways beer and food work together to tempt increasingly adventurous palates in search of new flavors.

U.S. craft beer continued to soar in popularity both at home and abroad last year, jumping 22% to $19.6 billion, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association. Craft beer has grown to 11% of the total beer market, a new record, and there were 3,418 craft breweries operating by the end of 2014.

The Culinary Institute of America is putting more of an emphasis on beer, with plans to open a craft brewery on its campus in Hyde Park, N.Y., this year, staffed by students. And last week, the Brewers Association named classically trained chef and former restaurateur Adam Dulye as its first executive chef.

Dulye, a CIA graduate, honed his craft at restaurants in Portland, Ore., and Aspen, Colo., before moving to San Francisco and eventually opening two restaurants, including The Abbot’s Cellar which featured a four-course tasting menu paired with different beers. (read more…)

Packaging has always been important to a product’s success. Iconic bottles, boxes and other containers have helped elevate certain products to icon status, and many consumers need only a few seconds to scan the shelves to identify their favorite products by sight. With the growing number of products in the grocery channel and consumers’ evolving expectations, having the right package is essential for companies looking to differentiate their product from the competition.

“The right package is often the only thing that can help a new product stand out on shelf. In this day and age of lower spends on new product launches, they rarely have a large number of facings, or ideal placement when they first arrive on shelf. Without these advantages, the package itself has to do all of the work to get shoppers to notice it and convert to purchase,” said Rich Scamehorn, chief researcher at InContext Solutions, which conducts virtual store research for a variety of industries, including consumer packaged goods. (read more…)

Whether your brand is already off and running with mobile ordering, or you’re still figuring out how to make it work, technologies such as NFC, QR codes, Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi, geo-fencing and in-app check-ins are here to stay. And they have the potential to transform both the brand and its operations.

Combined, these technologies and techniques make up a class called “mobile presence technologies,” which can communicate a customer’s proximity to a restaurant location.

This year, we will undoubtedly see brands adopting automatic or user-prompted technologies to signal to communicate wirelessly, from the customer to the kitchen. With technologies such as Bluetooth Smart, Wi-Fi and geo-fencing, a restaurant’s branded mobile app can trigger an order automatically when the customer crosses a predefined perimeter or physically arrives on-site. Sound a little too sci-fi? It’s not. Just as map and navigation systems can tell customers how to get to your location, the technology can be used to geo-fence, establishing a technological perimeter around your location. (read more…)

Continuing to walk towards Jon and Adam Schlegel’s celebrated Snooze: An A.M. Eatery location at Denver’s Union Station was an act of pure optimism. I’d already called ahead and learned that it would take another hour for a table for two to open up. Still, I kept walking, with an entrepreneur’s confidence that I could find a way around the system — some way to skip the line. I checked in with the maître d’ who explained that, yes, there was a 60-75 minute wait for a table for two. I looked at the stunning surroundings of the recently renovated station and the lovely Colorado last-day-of-summer day outside and an idea sprang into mind. Could I order takeout? Yep, no problem. Here’s a menu. What would I like? A breakfast burrito. OK. It’ll be out in five minutes.

A “rate-determining step” is the step in a process that determines how fast that process can go. (read more…)