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  • COMPANY CULTURE

    Hospitality Quotient's Susan Salgado in Inc. Magazine | October 2014

    CRAFTING YOUR COMPANY CULTURE IN 5 STEPS by SUSAN REILLY SALGADO, PH.D   Identifying your company culture is not that different from a national, ethnic or religious culture. They all have the same elements.     Over the past few months, I've had a number of fascinating conversations with entrepreneurs who want to create cultures that matter. Without fail, the discussion takes a turn towards unique office perks--work spaces that are filled with ping pong tables, nap rooms, TVs, and kitchen kegs. Even with the best of intentions to create a fun workplace, these perks are not creating a culture. In fact, they might be working against it. Think about the concept of an organizational culture. Actually, it's not very different from a national culture, an ethnic culture, or a religious culture. They all have the same elements. All are defined by values, beliefs, traditions, celebrations, stories, legends, heroes, norms, and language. So, what does it take to craft the culture you want and to evolve that culture over time?   1. Articulate your purpose and vision. The first step is knowing your identity and building a language to communicate it to your team. Once your team understands who you are and what your purpose is, the next step is to make your work environment align with your values. For these values to be effective, any perks must directly reinforce what you, as a company, believe in. If your culture upholds creative inspiration through recreational activities, then ping pong it is! If not, then replace the table with something that better connects you to your greater purpose.   2. Hire people with both emotional and technical capabilities. Defining the culture you want for your business is the first step, but how do you enrich and grow that culture? Who you hire plays a critical part. When interviewing a candidate, keep in mind that the technical ability to actually do the job is only half of what you need, if that. If you want to propagate a particular culture in your company, looking for a candidate's emotional capacity to care about the job is essential. You can teach people skills, but you cannot teach them to care. Hiring for emotional skills is a key factor to ensuring that your culture is in the right hands, and as it evolves, will continue to stay true to its purpose.   3. Set clear expectations. As a leader, it is your responsibility to set clear expectations by naming them. New situations will continue to arise, and your job is to explain how you'd like your team to react. A clearly articulated purpose sets the stage for your expectations, and continuous reinforcement is what helps the rubber meet the road for your team. You can only hold your team accountable to those standards you have clearly articulated to them.   4. Provide continuous, gracious feedback. Continuous, gracious feedback is the best way to communicate that the standards you have set are important to your culture. It is imperative that employees understand, on a personal level, what they're doing right or wrong. Feedback eliminates the guesswork and puts the focus on finding opportunities to improve. As a leader, it is up to you to be on your employees' side by clearly communicating where they stand.   5. Lead with integrity. Whether intentionally or not, leaders set the tone for their organization's culture. When carefully crafted, organizational culture is a direct reflection of the core values and purpose as set forth by leadership. If, as a leader, you do not actively take charge of your organization's culture, employees will formulate their own norms, values and beliefs. When left unattended, these discrepancies can have disastrous consequences. What I tell entrepreneurs and leadership teams is that if they fail to define the culture, it will instead be defined by tolerated behaviors. Organizational culture has the power to activate creativity, innovation, excellence--or any number of positive performance outcomes--so long as the leaders clearly define and embody the cultural values they champion.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    A MUST ORDER

    Union Square Cafe in Gotham Magazine | October 1, 2014

    THE BEST THINGS WE ATE IN SEPTEMBER by GOTHAM STAFF   From Saxon + Parole’s over-the-top ricotta gnudi to a satisfying bouillabaisse at Dirty French, here’s what the Gotham team ate this month….   Online Executive Editor Cait Rohan recommends the ricotta gnudi at Saxon + Parole.   The ricotta gnudi at Saxon + Parole (316 Bowery). Gnudi is my new favorite indulgence—especially at Saxon + Parole, where the ricotta dumplings are adorned with sweet butter, corn, shaved cheese, and truffle peelings. It basically takes everything great about gnocchi, ravioli, and pasta and morphs it into one rich, cheesy bite. –Cait Rohan, Online Executive Editor   Bouillabaisse noire at Dirty French (180 Ludlow St.). Dirty French, nestled inside The Ludlow hotel lobby, is the new boîte to be spotted in, and Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick turn out a bouillabaisse noire that is the definition of bistro nirvana. The traditional stock has a chili pepper kick and the textures of the octopus and rouget are superb. Order an accompagnement of pomme frites to dip, and pick a half-hidden banquette in which to enjoy your meal. –Samantha Yanks, Editor-at-Large; Executive Fashion Director; Editor-in-Chief, Hamptons   General Tso's sweetbreads at élan (43 E. 20th St.). This dish puts a fun spin on a classic French food and a Chinese-American favorite. You don't get the cloyingly sweet flavors of the takeout version—instead, the perfectly-cooked sweetbreads are balanced with leeks, orange, and chiles. –Bao Ong, Online Contributor   Heritage pork porterhouse at the Strip House Midtown (15 W. 44th St.). It may seem odd to go to a steakhouse and not chow down on a big, juicy filet, but the heritage pork porterhouse at the new Strip House Midtown is worth veering from the standard order. It's served with tangy black garlic barbecue sauce plus a sweet chile-cherry apricot mostarda. And at 20 ounces, it's also big enough to share—but only if you want. –Juliet Izon, Entertainment Editor   Ricotta gnocchi at Union Square Cafe (21 E. 16th St.). Fluffy pillows of ricotta gnocchi are a must-order at Union Square Cafe. This dish is classic perfection—each piece is a single-bite wonder paired with velvety tomato-basil passatina and finished with grated pecorino romano. It's simple yet so memorable with clear, bold flavors. –Kathy YL Chan, Online Contributor   Cindy Augustine loved this dessert at Cure Supper Club's recent pop-up dinner.   Marinated nectarines in peach juice at Cure Supper Club’s pop-up dinner. Cure Supper Club joined forces with Tasting Society to create a pop-up dinner, called Scene but Unseen, held at Urban Cowboy B&B. The chefs put out nine stellar dishes (with excellent booze pairings) that played with textures and flavors, but not surprisingly, dessert was my favorite. Chef Diego Moya marinated nectarines in peach juice and Torrontes and served it with Marcona almond curd (which tasted like an even-softer panna cotta). Garnished with toasted almonds, thinly sliced sour plum, fennel blossoms, and shaved tonka bean, the result was a perfectly sweet end to summer. –Cindy Augustine, Online Contributor   Ice cream sammie at Ice & Vice (pop-up at Brooklyn Night Bazaar, 165 Banker St., Brooklyn). A generous scoop of Basic B Mexican vanilla ice cream sits at the center of two dense Mexican chocolate brownies. Though this treat might look like it'll keep you cool on one of fall's unusually hot days, be warned: black pepper, guajillo pepper, and cinnamon give it a warming, savory, and very satisfying kick. –Tricia Carr, Online Editor   The garganelli pasta at Morini Ristorante (1167 Madison Ave.). Michael White’s newest outpost on the UES serves the perfect fall comfort dish: homemade pasta tossed with a rustic and hearty ragu, spiked with sangiovese, and topped with a sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano. If I had an Italian nonna, this is the kind of cold-weather dish she’d put on the table. –Anne Roderique-Jones, Online Contributor   Vegetarian Bomb at Bozu (296 Grand St., Brooklyn). With three varieties of sushi, this dish was creative and eclectic while still touching upon the flavors you'd expect from sushi. Honestly, everything else here was just as amazing. –Anna Ben Yehuda, Online Editor   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    FOOD REVOLUTION

    Danny Meyer in Inc. Magazine | October 2014

    TOP FOOD ENTREPRENEURS DISH ON HOW THE BUSINESS HAS CHANGED by BO BURLINGHAM   Honest Tea's Seth Goldman, Stonyfield Farms' Gary Hirschberg, and others debate what the food revolution has meant for culinarily inspired entrepreneurs.   Left to Right: Seth Goldman, Steve Hindy, Matt Salzberg, Danny Meyer.   Back in 1995, CEO Gary Hirshberg told Inc. about a "friendly note" on every yogurt container Stonyfield Farm sold that encouraged customers to contact his company. Today, the channels of communication may have changed--along with nearly everything else in the U.S. food and beverage industry--but the importance of tapping into consumers' experiences and expectations hasn't. Inc. discussed these makeovers with the industry's veterans and newcomers.   In a conversation with Bo Burlingham.   We hear a lot about "the food revolution." Has there really been one and, if so, how would you define it?   Gary Hirshberg: No question there's been one. When we started selling organic yogurt in 1983, nobody knew what we were talking about. I often say, we had a wonderful business back then; we just had no supply and no demand. But the world has changed. People want a high-quality product, whether it's in a restaurant or by a processor or from a farm. They want it produced by somebody they trust. And they are demanding transparency. One study shows 90 percent of consumers are choosing local, at least occasionally. It's no longer just in the top foodie markets like New York and San Francisco. Now, it's everywhere.   Danny Meyer: I think one sign of the food revolution is that people like us chose to get into this business. None of our parents would have said, "My son, the future lawyer, should really open a restaurant, or a brewery, or a tea company."   Myra Goodman: I look at it a little bit more from the consumer perspective. When my husband and I started Earthbound Farm in 1984, our choice to go organic really came from learning about the chemicals used in farming. We were just personally afraid to use these chemicals and eat food grown with them, and we didn't want to sell this food from our roadside stands to our consumers. People thought we were pretty crazy. But over the last three decades, people have become so aware of the connection between health and food. They realize you can really improve your health with your diet.   Ari Weinzweig: Yes, but remember, there are whole parts of the country that wouldn't know what we're talking about. Many of us live in a bubble. In our world, without question, people are much more interested in traditionally made foods and food that tastes better, and they don't mind spending money for it. The cheeses that were really high-end when we opened in 1982 are now supermarket offerings. The stuff we had back then that was pretty good, we wouldn't even carry anymore, because our market has evolved so much.   Steve Hindy: When I started selling Brooklyn Lager in New York City in 1988, a lot of people almost spit it out. They said, "My God! It's so dark and bitter. Why don't you make a beer like Heineken?" Today, Brooklyn Lager is considered a mainstream, entry-level craft beer.   Seth Goldman: I see people connecting the dots. They want to understand who's involved, all the way down to picking the tea leaves, and then all the way to the other side: What happens to the package? As Gary likes to say, "There's no such thing as 'away.' " So where does it go once it's done? We're now owned by Coca-Cola, and they have really embraced this change. They have to, because it's going to happen with them or without them. I don't think Coca-Cola is intrinsically a company trying to create more demand for organic beverages, but they're supporting Honest Tea's distribution and growth. As a result of what we're doing, when we become larger, we are helping to create more demand for organic beverages.   Weinzweig: Yes, and you have companies like Chipotle coming into the middle of the market. For fast food, it is very high-end. That raises the bar as well, which is great. I think people will continue to eat better food because it tastes better, and you feel better. The challenge is that most people haven't really experienced it.   Meyer: And remember that McDonald's owned around 90 percent of Chipotle at one time. I'm not sure Chipotle would otherwise have had the fuel it needed to become the independent company that has, more than any other company, changed what America expects from fast food.   Matt Salzberg: Food is just more fun now. You look at the Food Network and the rise of celebrity chefs, and food is a lot more aspirational, from a consumer perspective, than it used to be. Our customers at Blue Apron are actually a part of our product. We deliver recipes and ingredients, and then they cook at home. A lot of what we sell is that experience of cooking and being closer to your food and having fun while doing it, trying new things, trying new recipes, trying new ingredients. People find that variety to be fun, and I think that's also what's driving a lot of the innovation in food products. There's just greater interest in food than ever before.   How has the customer experience changed?   Meyer: People are interested in customizing their experiences in life, whether it's on a mobile phone with their apps or what they ask for in a restaurant. It's almost like, "Yeah, I see your menu, but here's how I'm going to eat." The whole experience has changed. It used to be that when someone reserved a table for four at 8 o'clock, you could expect four people. Today a table for four is really a table for eight: four people plus their cell phones, for taking photographs. It's almost unusual if people are not photographing their food and then sharing it in real time with someone else who is not physically present.   Hirshberg: I'm not sure how many people are photographing my yogurt, but there's no question that the consumer has shifted on us as well. People switch to eating more organic for two reasons: having children and having a health event, usually cancer, which is not a good thing but does work in the favor of organics. These shifts create opportunities. Look at Greek yogurt. It wasn't even here five or six years ago, and now it's 50 percent of the category. On the yogurt shelf and the tea shelf, we're seeing far more diversity, far more choice, and I think social media has had a lot to do with it. We producers are now able, without expensive market research, to get a sense of what our consumer wants, in real time.   Hindy: I agree that social media has had a huge impact. You can start a little brewery in the middle of nowhere today, and everyone you want to reach will know about it before it even opens.   Salzberg: Our business probably wouldn't have existed without social media. Blue Apron is an Internet business. We have a direct relationship with our customers every week. A huge percentage of our new customers come from referrals from friends, from photos on Facebook, from the constant communication that we have back and forth with our customers on our website. In the process, we're building up trust, which has been really important from a marketing perspective, because there's so much competition and so many choices. A lot of consumers now are looking for a curated experience, and that's one of the things that we built into our model. Every week we offer some choice and some preferences, taking into account people's dietary restrictions and the like. But for a lot of people, it's actually a liberating experience to say, "Hey, we trust your brand. We believe you will do a good job managing our refrigerator and helping plan our meals." The constant communication is one of the things that really drives the emotional connection and the affinity that people have for our business.   Meyer: Let's not forget that discovery has always been a huge part of the joy of eating. In the old days, if I discovered a dish I had never heard about before, I had to work really hard--without the benefit of a GPS or a language translator--to find the recipe somewhere, bring it back, and figure out how to get the ingredients to cook it the right way. Today, it's harder and harder to discover something that the rest of the world has not already discovered and broadcast via social media. That's a challenge to the people who are bushwhackers in the field. They take all the initial wind in their face and establish a brand, and the thanks they get is 25 upstart competitors who actually benefit from being new.   Is it harder or easier to start a food business today?   Hirshberg: Much easier. Most of us were thought of as crazy people when we started. Now, people demand the kind of craftsmanship we're all bringing to the table. And with social media, you can get the word out much more easily.   Goodman: The opportunities are there with social media, with people looking for the discovery Danny's talking about. Also, small companies are so much more agile, and they can create custom products. There are the people who have allergies or are sensitive to gluten and don't want to eat certain grains. There are so many custom diets that food companies can respond to and develop a little niche in. You also have big companies looking for entrepreneurs to do their innovation.   Goldman: I guess it's easier, but in my industry it's all about distribution, which is really challenging to break into. It's not hard to start a company. Today there's money, a lot of ideas and opportunities, but it's hard to scale, because distribution is so consolidated and shelf space so limited. We see a lot of companies get up and running, but then can't figure out how to cross over into profitability and scale their supply chain.   Hindy: The beer industry is different, though. Today, big beer distributors from coast to coast are very aggressively pursuing craft brewers, and that's a sea change. We had to distribute our own beer and a lot of other craft beers here in New York City for 15 years, because the big distributors wouldn't give us the time of day.   Salzberg: Before starting Blue Apron, I was in the venture capital business, and I spent a lot of time looking at people starting companies. It's without a doubt easier today than it's been in the past. Capital is available, and you need less of it to get started. Food is actually a little more capital-intensive than the typical business, but capital costs are coming down. And there's more risk taking in the work force. In the past, it was difficult to attract people to an unknown young company. Today, it's often an advantage for early companies, because people are excited to join you if they care about your cause.   Meyer: When I first got into business, there was a statistic that two out of every three restaurants would fail in the first six months. Why? Because it took at least a year for people to figure out that you were there. Today, you could get photographed looking at a vacant store and read that night on some food blog that you're opening a restaurant. That leads to the opposite problem for us. When we launch a restaurant, we are not nearly as good as we will become. So it's easier to launch, but there is so much early attention that you're at risk of exposing yourself more quickly than you like. Because people will give you one shot. If it's not yummy, they're not coming back. Meyer: When I first got into business, there was a statistic that two out of every three restaurants would fail in the first six months. Why? Because it took at least a year for people to figure out that you were there. Today, you could get photographed looking at a vacant store and read that night on some food blog that you're opening a restaurant. That leads to the opposite problem for us. When we launch a restaurant, we are not nearly as good as we will become. So it's easier to launch, but there is so much early attention that you're at risk of exposing yourself more quickly than you like. Because people will give you one shot. If it's not yummy, they're not coming back.   Hindy: Beer drinkers were very forgiving to the first wave of craft brewers, who didn't yet have it right. Today, people know what craft beer is, what it's supposed to taste like. If it doesn't, they're not going to buy it a second time. So the bar's a lot higher for quality, but people keep pouring into this business. What's interesting is the success rate. If you take all the production breweries from Day One, 70 percent of them are still in business, and 50 percent of the brewery-restaurants are still in business. There will definitely be a reckoning one of these days, but I think it's going to take a while.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    LANDMARK STATUS

    Union Square Cafe in Food & Wine | September 30, 2014

    ARE NEW YORK'S BEST RESTAURANTS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES? by KATE KRADER   © Nathan Rawlinson   Am I the only one who is freaked out about the future of New York City restaurants? Who sees so many beloved places announce that high rents are forcing them to shut their doors and move away from neighborhoods that they helped establish?   I’ll answer my own question—I’m not the only person freaked out on the subject. Here’s what Alex Stupak, chef and owner of New York’s remarkable Empellón Mexican food empire, has to say. “The rent escalation in New York is terrifying. If your rent goes up from $10,000 to $50,000, let’s say, then you have to make that up somewhere: on your tableware, on your food, on your staff. Pretty soon you’ll decide that it’s easier to use paper plates so you can save on your water bill. In 20 years, this just might be a city of Taco Bells, like in Demolition Man.”   Yikes. The alarm first sounded for me when I heard about the closing of Pastis, the brasserie oasis in the Meatpacking District. It’s gone. Alarm bells also rang when the star chef Bobby Flay—Bobby Flay!!—had to close Mesa Grill because his rent doubled. Then came word that the modernist WD-50, whose chef Wylie Dufresne was key to turning the Lower East Side into a dining destination, would close this November. And now news that makes the earth shake even harder: The venerable Union Square Café, which defined farm-to-table dining in New York City as far as I’m concerned, is closing at the end of 2015, when the rent will skyrocket to somewhere around $650,000 a year.   What brings ghost towns to life? “Restaurants,” Flay told Julia Moskin in a New York Times article on this very subject. “Eventually, they’re going to drive away all the people and places that make New York City interesting,” he added, underscoring my fears.   Here’s what I propose: landmark status for restaurants that have helped establish neighborhoods. Places like Union Square Café, which transformed a neighborhood that was most notable for the drug dealing in the park, and which was instrumental in turning a few tables of fruit and vegetables into the world-famous Union Square Greenmarket. The Landmarks Preservation Commission could grant that status to a restaurant that can demonstrate its contribution to the community; landlords would have to regulate rent accordingly. Until I can figure out a better way to pitch this idea, I’ll nervously watch as more restaurants close, and chefs leave NYC.   But while I’m on the lookout for Demolition Man signals—Sylvester Stallone; Taco Bell proliferation—I’ll also be comforted by what Danny Meyer, Union Square Café’s iconic owner, had to say about moving out of his restaurant’s namesake area: “We will turn over every single rock in our own neighborhood, to stay where we are.”  

    STAYING POWER

    Marta on Bloomberg.com | September 26, 2014

    NYC'S MARTHA WASHINGTON HOTEL OFFERS MORE THAN A SLICE OF GREAT DESIGN -- THERE'S PIZZA, TOO More

    PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA

    Marta in Food & Wine | September 22, 2014

    8 PIZZAS WE'RE EATING NOW by JUSTINE STERLING   If F&W editors are great at one thing, it's eating. They're also vigilant about documenting their meals at the country's best restaurants, in the F&W Test Kitchen and at home. Here, some highlights of what F&W editors have been cooking and eating over the past week.   Pizza with pizzazz @martamanhattan I love watching the show from the pizza counter with @nickanderer in charge, inspecting the bottom of every one for even charring. DANA COWIN   @nickanderer knows his way around a mushroom #pizza. @martamanhattan @foodandwine CHELSEA MORSE·   everything is better al uovo @martamanhattan ELIZABETH SHELDON   @nickanderer and his amazing synchronized pizza operation at the new @martamanhattan Roman #pizza #nyc #iateeverything ALEX VALLIS·   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE) (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    POWER RANKINGS

    Marta and The Modern on Grub Street | September 19, 2014

    GRUB STREET'S RESTAURANT POWER RANKINGS: GG'S OPENS, THE MODERN RETURNS, AND MORE by ALAN SYTSMA     Each week, Grub Street surveys the entire restaurant landscape of New York, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this: the most-talked-about, must-visit places in the city. They might be new, or they could be older places that have gotten a recent jolt of buzz. No matter what, these are the restaurants where you should make a point to eat sooner rather than later.   1. Marta (Last week: 1) The new Italian spot from Danny Meyer and chef Nick Anderer takes the top spot for a second week in a row, owing mostly to the fact that the restaurant is just really good. The pizzas coming out of the restaurant's massive ovens are already fantastic — especially one topped with potatoes and guanciale — and the service is exactly as friendly as you'd expect from Meyer.   6. The Modern (Off last week) A new pizza place isn't the only thing Danny Meyer's working on these days. He also reopened his MoMA restaurant after a water pipe kept it temporarily shut down. And how's this for a way to welcome the place back? The restaurant is running a special on half-price Champagne and the season's first white truffles.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    FORBES 30 UNDER 30

    Maialino's Jason Pfeifer in Forbes | September 19, 2014

    A 2,000-MILE HIKE ENDS IN A CAREER FOR CHEF JASON PFEIFER by CHASE PETERSON-WITHORN   For the first time, Forbes is bringing together 1,000+ members of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list with some of the globe’s top leaders and mentors to create partnerships that will change the world over the next 50 years. The Under 30 Summit will take place in Philadelphia from Oct. 19 – 22.   Jason Pfeifer’s 18th birthday came at the end of a 2,000-mile trip along the Appalachian Trail. He hiked and hitchhiked along the route, exploring new foods and foraging for his own meals when he could.   “I studied nonstop,” Pfeifer, 30, said. “Every day there was something that I would find that would pique my interest, and if it was edible, I would eat it.”   The next year, he hiked another 400 miles along the trail. He stopped at the Sunnybank Inn in Hot Springs, N.C., which Pfeifer describes as “basically a hostel for hikers.” He enjoyed vegetarian meals, and planted, grew and cooked organic vegetables.   Experimenting with food is something that Pfeifer has done from a young age. He recalls trying to combine random ingredients like buttermilk and olive juice as a child.   “I remember tasting it and it was awful,” Pfeifer said. “My mother has all these weird stories of me putting together strange and elaborate mixtures as a kid.”   When it came time to find a job, the food-obsessed teen went to work at a grocery store. He graduated from high school early and took to traveling; the trips along the Appalachian Trail cemented his decision to pursue cooking full-time, he said.     Pfeifer enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America. During his time in school, he worked at Gramercy Tavern, Danny Meyer’s prominent New American eatery in New York City; he started there full-time after graduating in 2006. Two years later, Pfeifer became Chef de Partie, or station chef, at Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-star Per Se.   Maialino, an Italian trattoria in New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel and another one of Danny Meyer’s creations, has been Pfeifer’s home since 2009. The restaurant serves classically-inspired Roman dishes prepared with fresh ingredients. It replicates the less-formal nature of the trattoria with its salami, cheese and antipasto, and coffee, dessert and bread stations. He was named Chef de Cuisine in 2013. While Pfeifer is currently holding down the fort as Nick Anderer, who is Maialino’s executive chef, and Meyer open Marta, a wood-fried pizzeria in Midtown Manhattan, he hopes to branch out on his own in the future.   “My dream is to have a smaller restaurant [of my own],” Pfeifer said. “I’d like to get back into fine dining.”   According to Pfeifer, he strives to achieve both simplicity and finesse with his dishes. He will bring this approach to the Under 30 Summit’s food festival, where he will showcase his skills alongside other up-and-coming chefs like Max Sussman, Adam Leonti and JJ Johnson.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    LIVING IN: UNION SQUARE

    Union Square Cafe in The New York Times | September 17, 2014

    UNION SQUARE: A PLACE TO CONVERGE, AND BUY KALE by AILEEN JACOBSON   Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times   When Victoria Baradi Anderson moved into the Union Square neighborhood in 1998, she was attracted to its central location and easy subway access. “I was single and enjoying the night life,” she said. After graduating from college and living with her parents for a year, she bought a studio on East 14th Street for less than $100,000. There was little in the surrounding streets that appealed to her, including the 3.6-acre park that gave the area its name and “was not as nice as it is now,” she said.   When she married in 2008, “my husband just moved in,” she said. Two years later, they had a child and bought a one-bedroom in the building, paying more than $600,000. Now, with two children, they spend most of their time close to home.   “The neighborhood just kind of kept on changing with me,” Mrs. Anderson said. “It kept giving me the things I need.”   These days, that includes a newly refurbished playground at the northern end of the park — part of a $20 million upgrade in that section — and a bustling farmer’s market four days a week, a Barnes & Noble with a large children’s section and a Babies “R” Us, among many other shiny new shops lining the streets around the park.   She and her husband, Christopher Anderson, a D.J., added to the child-oriented amenities by starting a monthly weekend brunch for young families at a restaurant on East 16th Street. “We love it here so much,” she said. “We know we have to move eventually, and we’d love to stay in the neighborhood if we could.”   That may not be so easy. The restaurateur Danny Meyer, who helped rehabilitate the neighborhood’s former seedy, drug-infested image when he opened his Union Square Cafe in 1985, said in June that he could not afford a huge rent increase he will face when his lease expires at the end of 2015 and will have to move out.   The climb in commercial leases is reflected in residential rents and purchase prices. “The area is just popping,” said Sasha Bruno, an agent with Town Real Estate. Janine Young, an agent with Bond New York, said, “There are no more bargains.”   Umber Ahmad, who for 10 years has rented a one-bedroom with a terrace in the Zeckendorf Towers condominium complex (completed in 1987 and credited as another factor in the area’s resurgence), said her rent has increased 65 percent — and is still under market, though she would not reveal the amount. Now the apartment’s owner has sold it, she said, and she plans to move to another rental in the neighborhood. But she fears she won’t be able to afford similar amenities, especially the terrace that holds plants she bought across the street.   “The biggest draw for me is the Greenmarket, having the farm-to-table experience by stepping outside your door,” said Ms. Ahmad, a former investment banker who has founded a bakery called Mah-Ze-Dahr, while still doing financial advising.   10 E. 14th Street, #5 A two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath condo loft with a home office, listed at $4.5 million. (516) 816-8769 Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times   Rising prices, however, are changing the makeup of the community, she said, and higher commercial rents mean “only big-box stores or banks” move in. “I don’t want to live in a strip mall, and some of that is happening.” Still, the farmers will keep her around Union Square, she said. “Being in a city of 8 million people, it’s nice to be among people from the land.”   What You’ll Find Union Square Park is a busy place, as are the streets around it. Union Square Partnership reports on pedestrian traffic on days when the Greenmarket is open say about 350,000 converge on the area on Mondays and Wednesdays, slightly fewer on Saturdays, and this past summer, a record-breaking 383,000 visited on Fridays. The area is the city’s top Citi Bike destination, with 485 docks, said Jennifer Falk, the executive director of the nonprofit partnership. Recently added park amenities include new bistro tables, chairs and umbrellas, an expanded playground, new restrooms, enhanced Wi-Fi and three solar-powered docking stations for electronic devices, she said.   In May, the Pavilion, a seasonal restaurant, opened within and in front of a handsomely restored columned structure that had long been neglected — and had long caused controversy. The Union Square Community Coalition, which opposed the cafe, favored using the pavilion for community activities. “Another restaurant is obviously not needed,” said Geoffrey Croft, a board member, pointing out the area’s many other places to eat.   The 24/7 activity has drawn tech companies, with employees who work and take breaks at any time of day, Ms. Falk said. Among new or expanded office tenants in the area are Mashable, Spotify, Yelp and Zillow. Students from New York University, the New School and other colleges also live in the neighborhood, said Uri Hanoch, a broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate who moved there as a student about 20 years ago.   69 Fifth Avenue, #17A A one-bedroom, one-bath co-op with a washer/dryer in a doorman building, listed at $999,000. (917) 556-3627 Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times   The rapid growth has resulted in a jumble of styles, with a historic statue of George Washington gazing across 14th Street toward a 100-foot-high modern artwork on the facade of One Union Square South called Metronome that tracks the time and the phases of the moon, and periodically emits puffs of steam. Glass-walled buildings nestle among more traditional ones, like the former Tammany Hall, now home to a theater and a film school.   What You’ll Pay Apartment prices have increased significantly over last year, said Ms. Bruno of Town Real Estate, citing figures she prepared for the area that stretches from 13th to 18th Streets and Fifth Avenue to Irving Place, one of several ways to define the neighborhood. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 8, the average price for studios increased about 2.8 percent to $577,286 from $561,698 in the comparable period in 2013; one-bedrooms rose about 12.1 percent to $1,189,684 from $1,060,654; two-bedrooms, 28.5 percent to $1,971,122 from $1,533,648; and three-bedrooms, 4.2 percent to $3,848,721 from $3,692,825.   The number of apartments sold, however, slipped to 43 from 65, which she attributed to a low inventory that may increase as the year progresses. Rents are high, too, Ms. Bruno said, with one-bedrooms “easily $4,000 to $5,000,” and some three-bedrooms more than $30,000 a month.   What to Do   7 E. 14th Street, #329 A renovated one-bedroom, one-bath co-op with a foyer in a doorman building, listed at $699,000. (347) 439-8523 Credit Edwin J. Torres for The New York Times   Peter Prinstein, a vice president at the investment management firm PIMCO who moved into a two-bedroom apartment on East 14th Street three years ago, said he is a movie buff and regularly visits the Regal Union Square Stadium 14 at 850 Broadway and, for art house films, the Cinema Village at 22 East 12th Street. (There are also several Off Broadway theaters.) As “an amateur chef,” he said, he likes the neighborhood’s Whole Foods and Garden of Eden, and, of course, the Greenmarket.   Exercise is another popular pastime. “We have a host of gyms in the neighborhood,” he said. Mr. Hanoch of Douglas Elliman likes the annual Union Square Holiday Market and the summer concerts. A free walking tour leaves at 2 p.m. on Saturdays from the Abraham Lincoln statue at 16th Street.   The Schools Many parents send their children to Public School 40, which received an A rating from the Department of Education, followed by Middle School 104, also with an A rating. Washington Irving High School, which was the only high school in the neighborhood, is being phased out, and its campus at 40 Irving Place now hosts five high schools with specialized curriculums and a school for kindergarten to Grade 2. P.S. 340 opened this month at 590 Sixth Avenue, taking only prekindergarten and kindergarten students but scheduled to expand.   The Commute The 14th Street Union Square Station is a stop on the L, N, Q, R, 4, 5 and 6 lines. Around a half-dozen bus lines run through the neighborhood.   The History The park got its name because of its location at the intersection of Bloomingdale Road (now Broadway) and Bowery Road (now Fourth Avenue), according to the city parks department’s website. It opened to the public in 1839. The grounds have often served as a gathering place for parades, political rallies and other meetings. It deteriorated during the 1970s. Renovations started in 1985.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    HALL OF FAME

    Danny Meyer in Crain's New York Business | September 17, 2014

    CRAIN'S NEW YORK BUSINESS HALL OF FAME by ALESSANDRA MALITO, ADRIANNE PASQUARELLI, MADDY PERKINS     The founder of the most successful company in New York in decades. The chief executive who steered the nation's leading financial consumer brand through the crises of Sept. 11 and the economic meltdown of 2008. The woman who put Brooklyn in the cultural spotlight—and maybe on the global map. The man who laid the foundation for the tourism boom long before it became the center of the city's economic strategy.   The first class of the Crain's New York Business Hall of Fame represents the diversity of the most important commercial capital in the world—in industries, in their backgrounds and in their influence in business, education, culture and philanthropy.   The honorees on these pages were chosen from nominations by Crain's readers and staff members for their accomplishments during the past three decades. Most have proved themselves in crises, and all see their roles as far more than running their own companies or organizations—whether in their industry or the city or, in some cases, the world. The members of the Crain's Hall of Fame will be recognized at a lunch on Nov. 10. The next class of the Hall of Fame will be named in the fall of 2015.   Danny Meyer Chief executive, Union Square Hospitality Group     In 1985, then-27-year-old Danny Meyer may have thought he was just opening a restaurant when he founded Union Square Café, but he proved that a restaurant could be the sparkplug for a neighborhood revitalization. He changed the thinking of his industry by refining how it treats customers, and by treating his employees as the professionals they are.   Business accomplishments   Mr. Meyer’s preparation for the restaurant world came during his childhood, when he worked in his father’s travel business, including abroad. His list of restaurants has grown to include Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, Untitled at the Whitney Museum, the Modern at MoMA and Maialino. Shake Shack extended his brand in 2004, and has expanded to cities such as London and Dubai. It consistently makes the lists of the best fast food in the world. Mr. Meyer’s empire, with 3,000 employees, now includes catering, a sports/entertainment business and a consulting arm called Hospitality Quotient that offers professionals, such as doctors, concepts inspired by the hospitality business. He wrote Setting the Table, a memoir, as well as two cookbooks and one cocktail handbook.   Civic and philanthropic work   A strong advocate for fighting hunger, the 56-year-old Mr. Meyer serves on boards for Share Our Strength and City Harvest; his company sponsors mobile markets and volunteers for the latter. He is a member of the No Kid Hungry Leadership Council. Mr. Meyer founded the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, a weekend-long event that showcases pit masters from around the country. Proceeds go to the Madison Square Park Conservancy. He was co-chair of the Union Square Partnership for five years and is an executive committee member for NYC & Company.   "It would be so gratifying to be remembered for the company I keep. I am immensely proud of the high-quality people who choose to bring their gifts for hospitality to our family of USHG restaurants. I think we select amazing teams and develop remarkable leaders. And it’s those people who make it feel so good to work and dine in our establishments."   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)

    HEAT ISLAND EFFECT

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    MARTA REVIEW

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