Two new Houston locations are on the horizon for popular Dallas import Velvet Taco

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By Marcy de Luna - Houston Chronicle

Updated9:04 am CDT, Thursday, April 11, 2019

Popular Dallas import Velvet Taco is set to open two new locations in Houston.

While the Bayou City already has two locales, Montrose and Washington Heights, a third outpost will launch at 2001 North Shepherd in October, president of Velvet Taco, Clay Dover, told Chron.com on Wednesday.

What's more, plans are already in the works for a fourth outpost. Dover said the company has its sites set on opening a location in The Galleria area in early 2020.

"We're excited about growing in Houston. We think it's a phenomenal city," Dover said.

Formerly occupied by a Jack in the Box restaurant, the design for the forthcoming Heights address takes advantage of the former tenant's space. This location will also feature a drive-thru window, a first for the restaurant's Houston outposts.

"You can order ahead via our app, online or by phone," Dover said. "It's a great opportunity to serve guests who are in a hurry or want to grab something on their way home."

One thing that won't change is the menu of more than 20 deliciously-creative tacos featuring globe-trotting flavors, including the Picnic Chicken with rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-dijon potato salad and crispy chicken skin and the Texas Akaushi Bacon Burger with peppered bacon, smoked cheddar, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles and house-made sauce.

There's also the Falafel with tahini crema, arugula, tomato, pickled Fresno chiles, avocado, pickled red onion, and pea tendrils, all served in a lettuce wrap.

Velvet Taco currently has nine total locations in Dallas, Houston, Austin and Chicago, with more on the way, both in its current markets and in additional cities.

"We're in growth mode," Dover said. "We're going into Atlanta in June 2019 and we're looking at opening a location in San Antonio at the beginning of the year."

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Design Collective welcomes Lindsay Beaver and Olivia Ryan

Design Collective welcomes 2 new designers to our Columbus, Ohio office.  

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Lindsay Beaver is our boomerang, she left us for 2 years of adventure in Chicago and came back! She has a diverse background in several markets including Healthcare, Higher Education, Retail, and Hospitality with a passion for Workplace design. She enjoys working with clients through workplace strategy and incorporating their culture and values into their space. During her free time Lindsay enjoys spending time with her family (she’s a new mom to a baby girl) and running. Fun fact, in college she set a school record in Track and Field at Ohio Dominican!

 

 

 

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Olivia Ryan is originally from Chicago,  she is a recent graduate Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design. Through her various internships, she have dipped her toes in several markets, including Multi-family Housing, Retail, and Workplace design. She has a passion for Workplace design and would like to continue to design branded and innovative workspaces. In her free time, Olivia enjoys oil painting and building and renovating furniture.

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Architect Matt Toddy Wins The Presidents Award at AIA Columbus Design Awards

Congrats to our very own   Matthew Toddy, AIA, NCARB   for winning The Presidents Award last week at the AIA Columbus Design Awards for his work on ARCHway! This mentorship program is a six session program that aims to connect young architects with firm leaders in the Columbus architectural community. Through thought provoking sessions, participants will experience multiple modes of interaction such as group mentoring, reverse mentoring, and peer mentoring.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVDaVdZP70c#action=share

Congrats to our very own Matthew Toddy, AIA, NCARB for winning The Presidents Award last week at the AIA Columbus Design Awards for his work on ARCHway! This mentorship program is a six session program that aims to connect young architects with firm leaders in the Columbus architectural community. Through thought provoking sessions, participants will experience multiple modes of interaction such as group mentoring, reverse mentoring, and peer mentoring.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVDaVdZP70c#action=share

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Design Collective Attends the 20th Annual Chix with Stix, All-Ladies Golf Outing

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Design Collective was excited to attend the 20th annual Chix with Stix last week, this all-ladies golf outing is for the Columbus Architectural and Design community and benefits The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. Thanks to our team sponsor Trevor Cooke and the support of all of our sponsors, we have donated over $450,000 to the James in just 19 years!

Each year all the teams dress up in pink to support the cause and our DCI team played homage to Where’s Waldo? and decided it was time for Where’s Wanda?

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Design Collective explores Cambria's "Fab Lab" in Minneapolis

Many thanks to Cambria for hosting one of our DCI Designers, and others from Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. The group toured Cambria's showroom galleries, manufacturing facilities, and their fab lab in Minneapolis. It was an incredible, immersive experience where we learned the history and process of what all goes into making such a beautiful and resilient, luxury product.

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Check out highlights from our trip below:

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Design Collective Travels to Steelcase to Learn Insights & New Workplace Trends

Steelcase hosted the Design Collective team up in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the day. We covered a lot of ground and topics; seeing wood manufacturing first hand, a variety of product overviews (demountable partitions, furniture, fabrics/printing, etc.), a thought provoking lunch speaker, facility use tracking software and a first-hand look at an impeccable Frank Lloyd Wright house, the Meyer May House. Also, thanks to LOTH Inc. for accompanying us, and making sure our trip was fantastic!

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Check out highlights from our trip below:

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Senior Designer Debra Weaver Earns WELL AP Certification

Live WELL  -  Work WELL  -  Design WELL

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Congratulations to our very own, Debra Weaver, NCIDQ, for just receiving her WELL AP Certification. This places her among a group of leading professionals who are dedicated to supporting human health and well-being in the built environment. To learn more about the WELL initiative and how you can be more proactive in creating a more holistic office environment visit the following link(s): 

https://www.wellcertified.com/

https://workdesign.com/2018/01/wellness-programs-for-healthy-workplace/

 

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Velvet Taco claims North Dallas corner in gourmet taco takeover

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By Teresa Gubbins from Dallas Culture Map  2.6.18 | 4:26 pm

Dallas-based upscale taqueria chain Velvet Taco is officially in expansion mode and one new neighborhood is the lucky beneficiary, with a location coming to the intersection of Preston Road and Forest Lane.

Construction will begin in March; the opening is penciled in for July.

The official address is 11700 Preston Rd., #600, on the southeast corner, in what was previously longtime tenant Fossee's Shoes, which closed in July 2017 after 31 years. Bye Fossee!

Velvet Taco president Clay Dover says that the branding elements at this new branch will be similar to the original store at Knox Henderson, but with some aspects that are entirely new. That includes a setup that facilitates orders of the "backdoor chicken" menu of rotisserie chicken with elote-style corn and tortillas.

"The store itself is 3400 square feet, but we are creating a spacious patio," he says. "In addition, we will have a pick-up window that can be accessed from dedicated parking for both the backdoor chicken and also to-go orders, which can be ordered ahead using our mobile app."

Velvet Taco first opened on Henderson Avenue in 2011. The chain's tacos explore multi-regional and multi-cultural boundaries, such as Indian-style tikka chicken, Mediterranean vegetarian falafel, Japanese ahi poke, and Cuban pork. There's brisket and flank steak and they do a fabulous "Nashville-style" hot tofu.

The chain does a weekly chef-driven taco feature, which has become kind of a Thing for customers, since it's not posted or announced ahead of time. This week's entry is the "return" of No. 16, which has a flour tortilla, cilantro rice, veggie mix with spinach, mushroom, and tomatoes, coconut curry shrimp, habanero pineapple relish, and Thai basil.

This will be the eighth location; other branches are in Fort Worth, Houston, Chicago, Austin, and Greenville Avenue in Dallas, which opened in 2017.

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Workplace Planning for Today and Beyond

Workplace Planning for Today and Beyond

DOWNLOAD "WORKPLACE PLANNING FOR TODAY AND BEYOND"

Today’s workplace is so much more than an environment in which to work. It’s a tool that can drive organizational change, improve performance and productivity, bolster employee engagement and attract, retain and motivate talent. It’s also a strategic asset that can communicate corporate mission, branding and cultural messaging.

Such a broad agenda makes the job of planning for tomorrow’s workplace that much more complex for designers who are charged with balancing business and real estate needs while creating solutions that align with corporate mission and deliver competitive advantage.

Recently Knoll hosted members of ONE Global Design, a consortium of owner-led interior design firms in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, to discuss some of the challenges they were experiencing, trends observed and current and future design needs of their corporate clients.

Leveraging the broad geographic diversity and deep expertise of the ONE Global Design network, our discussion goals were to better understand the changing nature of work, especially the global escalation of group-based work, shared-unassigned workspaces and how organizations are planning and allocating space and using furniture to support new ever-more casual workstyles.

Casual and Tech-Influenced are the New Normal

“Everyone wants to be cool,” was the general consensus about corporate clients today.

Aesthetics are strongly influenced by clients’ desire to model technology companies, an industry that many clients relate to. That identity, combined with a continued shift to groupbased workstyles and casual work environments, has given rise to a preference for a more hip design sensibility.

Even traditional legacy companies increasingly view themselves in a more modern context, and want their space to reflect that ambiance, even if they can’t quite articulate it. “We just did an insurance company that decided to call themselves a technology company. Everybody is a technology company now. They came to us and said, ‘We want an innovation center. We need a garage, a digital garage. What is that?’ They had no idea,” one designer recalled.

The Anti-Office Office

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Today’s workplace is looking less and less like an office and more like a home or hotel, designers related.

Several reasons for the shift:

- The need to appeal to new and existing talent

- A more design-conscious employee base informed by consumer retailers like Target who “bring high design to the masses”

- A desire to not look like a traditional office

- Greater expectations for memorable experiences from clients and employees

- Fewer and smaller workstations, freeing up space for more and larger common areas

- A disappearing need for bulky bookshelves and file cabinets

Seeking a more informal aesthetic that encourages collaboration, and inspired by the hospitality industry, designers are bringing a more casual vibe to workspaces in numerous ways.

- Greater focus on amenities that elevate the basic musthaves – technology and coffee – to new levels of choice and access

- Incorporating a welcoming overlay, with bar-like settings and communal spaces for casual gatherings

- Bike parking and corresponding end-of-stay rooms with showers and changing areas.

The influence of the technology industry on office design cannot be underestimated, attendees noted. “Employers are lavishing amenities and providing a level of furnishings and services not only to visitors, but also to their staff.”

 

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Trends and Challenges Affecting Workspace Design

Rapid and continuously evolving technology, new industry standards and tightened real estate priorities were identified as major challenges to creating effective and economical space solutions.

“We spend as much time programming and talking about the café and the pantries as everything else.”

An uncertain business climate requires a need for adaptation.

With markets in flux, rapidly expanding (or contracting) businesses, and workplaces in transformation, the need for flexibility and agility has never been greater. Designers shared solutions to respond to a client’s growing needs, such as testing new workplace changes prior to a wide rollout. “Bigger corporations with a large real estate mandate take a ‘chunk,’ rather than doing it across the board. They pilot it saying, ‘Let's try this out in 2% of my world and see how it takes off,” shared one designer.

Another strategy was an “incubated playground area” with inherently flexible furniture solutions that allow employees to shape their environment to match a particular need or posture. “The kit of parts is designed with flexibility so someone can take a component of the conventional workstation and turn it into what they need it to be,” another attendee explained, adding that following installation, clients frequently observe components being used in unintended ways.

Others expressed that in an uncertain climate, the flexibility afforded by freestanding furniture provided the most prudent and conservative survival strategy. “Unlike structural improvements, furniture is the one element clients can take with them when they move.”

 

Corporations are adopting coworking models.

Coworking is growing up, the designers concurred. Companies in search of innovation and employee engagement are rapidly adopting workplace designs inspired by coworking’s collaboration and community.

Models vary as well. In some cases, a company takes up residence in an existing coworking space such as IBM has done at WeWork. Other times, companies create their own coworking spaces as part of a new real estate strategy, as Verizon has done in an effort to monetize its dormant building spaces. Hybrids might incorporate an incubator, accelerator, university or other partnership.

No matter what the model, coworking success is contingent on community-building, one designer reminded the group, underscoring the need for spaces that support collaboration and event programming.

Industry standards present challenges and complexity.

Designers were in general agreement about how to address challenges with industry-wide standards, whether it was the long-established LEED for sustainability issues, or the more recent WELL building standard aimed at creating healthful environments.

“WELL needs to be part of culture,” particularly in light of the cost to do so. Compliance is typically more expensive per square foot than LEED, the group noted.

Expense and complexity have led to a change of mindset for LEED standards. “It’s become more about intent (or “LEEDlite”) than compliance,” as one participant suggested.

The cultural components must be addressed.

No amount of groundbreaking design can solve the less tangible challenges an organization experiences.

“Solutions must fit the culture,” one designer emphasized, as he shared an example of a project where open lounge seating was installed outside directors’ offices. It sat unused for its intended purpose, since company mores dictated that area off-limits to all but directors. “There’s often a disconnect with what the C-suite wants and what they think they want,” another participant pointed out. Frequently influenced by peers and industry news, “the C-suite is often too quick to jump on trends that don’t fit the organizational culture.”

The group agreed that one of the most important components of successful change management was modeling adaptation to the new workspace. “The C-suite’s job is to set an example and drive the behavior,” another designer added. If top executives don’t model the behavior, of say, working in an open office environment, the project “will be a waste of money.”

“Unlike structural improvements, furniture is the one element clients can take with them when they move.”

The New Math of Free-Address Environments

Getting the numbers right in designing a free-address environment is not a perfect science, designers concurred. Rather, it’s akin to the software 2.0 model, which focuses on getting to market first and making adjustments later.

In the case of workplace design, that often means doing a pilot study, then refining the design before rolling it out company-wide. Continual monitoring and tweaking elements to make sure they are working optimally should follow installation.

Determining the ratios right can be tricky business.

Free-address ratios are shifting from about 1:1 to 1:2 or 1:4, reflecting an increasingly smaller workplace footprint and decreased need for file storage. “It's getting to the point now where most of our clients don't even have ‘stuff,’ especially tech companies.”

Getting the size of rooms can resemble a Goldilocksstyle dilemma.

People tend to feel cramped or self-conscious in phone booths and single-occupancy rooms, while conference rooms for eight, twelve, fourteen, sixteen are considered huge space-wasters. “Because nine times out of ten there are two or three or four people in there.”

Spaces that can accommodate three or four people were optimal, since “everybody is much more inclined to use those spaces.” Building in flexibility via modular design and agile furniture is the best solution, since it allows an easy transition from one use to the next, such as small enclosed spaces that can be used as individual offices or meeting rooms, depending on demand.

 

Looking Ahead

Several key takeaways emerged from the afternoon to guide future success.

Know your customer. A thorough research phase to learn how your client works before you design the space is integral to project success. Equally important: make sure the customer knows what they want.

Test, revise, rollout, repeat. Start with a pilot area to make sure new strategies work for the client.

Conquer fear of change. One of the most effective strategies is to have clients learn from others’ success. Explore, visit, share knowledge.Use technology to optimize space. Cell-phone apps and sensors can track usage and availability of open workspaces, meeting rooms and locations for more accurate planning and optimal utilization.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the session was that there are no easy answers in workplace design today. Just questions. Some that were raised:

How to accommodate personal items in a free-address environment? Sure, people can look at their family photos on their phone or computer. But what about the latest artwork from their kindergartner? Or the treasured departmental award plaque?

Data drives decision-making. But at what price? Not everyone is comfortable being tracked by sensors that monitor their every move.

How to account for different reconfiguration needs? When cross-functional teams meet around a table, technology portability may not be an issue. On the other hand, some industries, such as gaming, necessitate that power, infrastructure and furniture be kept intact as the teams move around.

How do you address unassigned workspace issues? How can you best create a home-like environment in a deliberately anonymous setting? How do you accommodate large teams? What happens when people “camp out” in spaces beyond their reserved time? Where do people store their stuff? How do you provide individual space in an open environment?

How much more can the boundaries blur? Long-work days, remote workstyles and home-like offices blur work/life boundaries more than ever. Is it too much? What are the long-term effects?

Participants

Thank you to the ONE Global Design participants who shared their insights and ideas with Knoll:

Jim Allegro
FOX Architects, Washington, DC

Melani Atkinson
Wolcott Architecture | Interiors, Los Angeles

Darryl Balaski
figure3, Toronto

Suzanne Bettencourt
figure3, Toronto

Debra Breslow
Meyer, Philadelphia

Julie Campbell
SSDG Interiors, Vancouver

Erika Carey
Partners by Design, Chicago

Ann Derr
JPC Architects, Seattle

Bob Fox
FOX Architects, Washington, DC

Chris Heard
Hendrick, Atlanta

Gabe Hernandez
Design Republic, New York

Roy Huebner
Roy Enterprises, Los Angeles

Eric Ibsen
FORGE, San Fransisco

Wes Jones
Progressive AE, Grand Rapids

Bryan Koehn
Progressive AE, Grand Rapids

Peter Kontos
Partners by Design, Chicago

Brent LaCount
Design Collective, Columbus

Norman Liedtke
Meyer, Philadelphia

Barry Ludlow
Design Republic, New York

Kenna Manley
SSDG Interiors, Vancouver

Drew Marlow
Acquilano Leslie, Denver

Gene McHugh
Design Collective, Columbus

Suzanne Nicholson
Meyer, Philadelphia

Char Patterson
JPC Architects, Seattle

Susan Steeves
SSDG Interiors, Vancouver

Ashley Stinson
Acquilano Leslie, Denver

Burt Visnick
Visnick + Caufield, Boston

Cora Visnick
Visnick + Caufield, Boston

Stephen Wells
Hendrick, Atlanta

A.J. Wilder
Wolcott Architecture | Interiors, Los Angeles

Eric Yorath
figure3, Toronto

Sergio Zepeda
ZVA Group, Mexico City

DOWNLOAD "WORKPLACE PLANNING FOR TODAY AND BEYOND"

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City approves evolving Huntington Center upgrades

City approves evolving Huntington Center upgrades
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By Tristan Navera  –  Reporter, Columbus Business First

 

The overhaul of Huntington Center is evolving, with plans now calling for a new lobby complete with "the largest greenwall in Ohio." 

A host of design firms are helping with a multimillion-dollar refresh of the 37-story landmark tower downtown, with Houston-based owner Hines eager for a new look for the 33-year-old tower.

A fresh set of renovations were presented to the Downtown Commission Tuesday. The 907,010-square-foot building at 41 S. High St. is the ninth-most valuable commercial property in the area, valued at $91.3 million in 2015 according to the Franklin County Auditor.

Chicago-based design firm Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture Ltd. was brought aboard to oversee the renovations. The team also includes the Design Collective and MKSK as landscape and streetscape architect.

Gene McHugh, a principal at Design Collective, said designers have worked up plans over the years that include upgraded common areas, a renovated lobby, a business lounge, rooftop terrace and amenities for tenants on the 33rd floor.

"There's been a lot of advancement of the overall design impacting the overall project," McHugh said.

And then there are the "greenwalls" – a vertical artwork made of plants and grasses. A massive greenwall will line the two-story main lobby of the building.

Designers say these natural elements are beautiful to look at and help provide insulation and sound dampening. The planting will be predominantly grasses, shade and perennial plantings.

While the world is brown and gray outside in the winter, the lobby will remain green.

The building's outside will get some love, too, said Rick Espe, a principal with MKSK.

One of the front planters facing Capitol Square will be removed and ballards added to give it less of a busy look. Some of the initial plans for the outside of the building have changed as engineers now see there is a concrete roof deck just below the sidewalk that supports leased underground space.

"The big picture for the streetscape was to open the sight line to the capital," Espe said. "There's a lot of clutter in the front of the building and we want to clean it up."

Atop the building, a 10-foot wind screen will be installed along the rooftop patio.

Other upgrades completed or planned there include a lounge, bike storage area, and a co-working space.

Hines secured a $140 million loan last year to refinance the tower. Its tenants include Huntington National Bank, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Like other downtown properties, it has had to contend with a market that seems to favor new, suburban office buildings.

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City Barbeque is ready to take on a pair of major US markets

By DAN EATON of Columbus Business First

The Dublin-based restaurant chain expects to open its first barbecue joints in Atlanta and Chicago by the end of the year and between leases and letters-of-intent, it could have a pair in Atlanta and as many as five in and around Chicago by the end of 2018.

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Just don’t go looking downtown.

“We’re not looking at Atlanta as Atlanta,” founder and CEO Rick Malir told me. “We look at it as Decatur, as Alpharetta. We want cities with good suburbs and communities.”

The only two locations he would specifically confirm were the Chicago suburbs of Downers Grove and Orland Park.

Though the growth is being fueled by a private equity investment from Los Angeles-based Freeman Spogli & Co., Malir said the new units thus far all have been in markets previously picked out by City Barbeque. The company has 36 restaurants today in four states, up from 28 when the investment was announced last summer.

Atlanta and Chicago will be the first new markets for the business since it went into North Carolina in 2013. That state, noted for its love of barbecue, is now home to eight City Barbeques with more on the way.

I asked Malir if success there gave him the confidence that the brand would translate elsewhere since barbecue can be a territorial taste.

“I’d love to tell you that I’m a genius,” he said. “The reality is Fresh Market (grocery store) sold our sauce and I was down in Greensboro and they told me I should open down there, that there wasn’t anything like us. So we went off some research, a little bit of gut. This wasn’t some grand test. I just thought it would work.”

With three dozen joints now though, Malir said they’re confident in where to look – suburbs with good demographics and traffic.

“We want our GMs to be metaphorical mayors of their towns,” he said. “We want to be a place that people can count on to help with the softball team or the local fire department.”

The chain was named to Restaurant Business’ Future 50 list this year with annual sales of almost $40 million, double digit sales growth and an average unit volume of $1.4 million, according to data from industry researcher Technomic Inc. It has come a long way from Malir’s days of smoking meats in his garage to converting an old donut shop at 2111 W. Henderson Road into his first restaurant back in 1999.

“This started with the intent of opening a great barbecue joint in Columbus,” he said. “That’s it.”

Now he’s in charge of a company with more than 1,200 employees.

Malir declined to share any other new markets at this time, but did say it would continue to grow in existing markets.

“We didn’t do this to stop it now,” he said.

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Design Collective team participates in Chix with Stix to raise money for Breast Cancer Research

18th annual  Chix with Stix  Golf Outing, a benefit for The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center –Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. All of the ladies in the Columbus area design community are invited to attend this special event. Chix with Stix goes beyond the boundaries of our business and touches everyone in a personal way.

18th annual Chix with Stix Golf Outing, a benefit for The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center –Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. All of the ladies in the Columbus area design community are invited to attend this special event. Chix with Stix goes beyond the boundaries of our business and touches everyone in a personal way.

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Blue Jackets tapping BrewDog Beer in Multi-year deal

 

From Business First Columbus

Aug 2, 2017, 10:55am EDT

Rendering of a BrewDog stand that will be featured in Nationwide Arena.

The Columbus Blue Jackets’ newest acquisition is more craft beer.

The team Wednesday announced a multi-year partnership with Canal Winchester-based BrewDog USA Inc., which will put the Scottish brewery’s craft brews on tap at two mobile stations within Nationwide Arena during hockey games and special events at the facility.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It’s the first U.S. sports partnership for the company, which runs a 100,000-square-foot brewery in the Franklin County suburb in addition to a 10,000-square-foot brewpub, which is one of almost 50 bars it has worldwide.

“The people of Columbus are huge fans of their team and now we’ve been live in Ohio for a few months, we can really see why,” Co-founder James Watt said in a release. “The arena has incredible atmosphere and energy and the BrewDog bars will add to that with amazing craft beer to enjoy during the games.”

As part of the deal, BrewDog will host two Blue Jackets fan events at its DogTap restaurant alongside the Capital Area Humane Society, which will have its Mobile Adoption & Rescue Vehicle on site.

The puck drops on the Blue Jackets season Friday Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. against the New York Islanders.

 

Dan Eaton

Staff reporter

Columbus Business First

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New restaurants, expanding menu on Piada's plate

Jul 25, 2017, 1:29pm EDT

Dan Eaton Staff reporter Columbus Business First

Grove City will get the next local Piada, but that’s far from the only new Piada.

The Columbus-based fast-casual restaurant is opening its first new Central Ohio site in years, but that Grove City space isn’t coming online until next year.

Piada has eight more restaurants opening in the next six months.

The growing brand is plenty busy in the meantime. Grove City is the eighth coming-soon location in the pipeline. Between August and November, the company expects to open seven new restaurants in four of its existing markets — one each in Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh and a trio in the Cleveland area (Akron, Parma and Chagrin Falls).

“For a company our size, that’s a really high clip,” Matt Eisenacher, vice president of marketing and brand development, told me. “We’re really focused on building out our core markets, building brand awareness, getting greater labor efficiency.”

Pittsburgh is the newest market for Piada, having opened its first restaurant there in the Oakland neighborhood in January with another opening in Northway in the coming months.

“That market has been above and beyond our expectations,” he said.

Piada maintains a low profile, though it still is drawing national attention. The company was singled out by trade publication Restaurant Business as one of its Future 50 fast-growing brands. Central Ohio-based Pies & Pints and City Barbeque also made that list.

Grove City will be the 44th restaurant for the chain, which was founded byrestaurateur Chris Doody in 2010. Fueled by a pair of private equity infusions from Greenwich, Connecticut-based Catterton Partners in 2013 and 2015, the chain has almost tripled in size since that initial investment.

The menu — built around the wrap-like piada and flanked with salad, pasta and its Tasca sandwiches — will go through another evolution this fall. Though the create-your-own model the company opened with still is an option, featured menu items now account for about 80 percent of sales, Eisenacher noted. There will be more options on that front, including some new creations.

“You’re going to see us start to do things outside these formats,” he said. “We want to bring some unexpected food and experiences to our customers.”

Eisenacher also said the company will test some operational tweaks at its Easton restaurant later this year meant to create more flexibility in the kitchen while not sacrificing any speed of service.

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Cameron Mitchell set to open next Cap City Fine Diner in Dublin July 11

By JD Malone 
The Columbus Dispatch

Posted Jun 27, 2017 at 2:30 PMUpdated Jun 27, 2017 at 3:18 PM

The new Cap City Fine Diner in Dublin’s Bridge Park has beautiful, dark wood tables, a handsome central bar with a white granite counter, big, soft globe lights and lots of booths with red upholstery.

There’s a bakery by the front door, a jukebox that plays customer selections over the restaurant’s speakers, and a mammoth dispenser filled with a rainbow of giant gumballs.

The third Cap City location — and owner Cameron Mitchell’s first return to the concept since closing an ill-conceived Cap City in Pittsburgh in 2002 — is something of a rebirth for the brand.

“We had a lot of fun designing it,” said David Miller, president of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. “It’s been 20 years in the making.”

The long lull between Cap City openings let the company take a new look at the concept and tweak a few things. Much of the look and feel could be repeated in the renovations planned for the Gahanna and original Grandview Heights area locations.

“We hadn’t done one in so long. This let us do Cap City 2.0.” Mitchell said. “It’s not quite as down and dirty (a) diner.”

Some things were too iconic to change, though. There are still the original chicken wings, and liver and onions on Wednesdays. And while the menu includes a lighter item or two, Cap City remains rooted in American comfort food or as Mitchell puts it, “it sure makes you feel damn good.”

“And the Seriously Big Chocolate Cake,” he said, “is still seriously big.”

The Dublin location opens July 11 in Bridge Park, a huge development along Riverside Drive in Dublin that features hundreds of apartments, a fitness center, other restaurants, offices and retail space.

The new development made a Dublin location for Cap City possible, as other locations he has scouted never worked out or were not available over the years, Mitchell said.

“We’ve wanted a Cap City in Dublin for about 15 years.”

As for additional Cap City locations, it is possible, yet unlikely.

Cap City, even after two decades, remains Mitchell’s busiest restaurant. It is also one of the hardest to pull off, he said.

“Everything is made from scratch,” he said. “It is a lot of work and attention to detail to run a Cap City.”

That makes Cap City less profitable than some other concepts in Mitchell’s wheelhouse. The brand also might not translate to other cities, because Columbus is the capital of Ohio.

“In Pittsburgh, no one understood what it was,” Mitchell said of the name.  In Columbus that’s not an issue.

“It has an iconic reputation,” said Dennis Lombardi, principal of Insight Dynamics, a restaurant consultancy. “If you think about what makes a restaurant work — concept, location, consistency and you hit on all three, which Cap City does — you have a very successful restaurant.”

Dublin is a good fit for the brand, with its proximity to other northwestern suburbs, traffic density and more affluent population, thus a logical spot for any of Mitchell’s concepts, Lombardi said. In fact, there will be another Mitchell restaurant in the Bridge Park development — The Avenue.

Mitchell’s company, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, will have 29 locations after the new Cap City opens. Its sister outfit, Rusty Bucket, has 24. Mitchell now employs about 4,000 people.

Growth continues to be the company’s hallmark. Since opening the first restaurant — Cameron’s — in 1993, Mitchell has gone just one year without opening a restaurant. That was 2010. Even if there are no more Cap City locations, there will be more Cameron Mitchell concepts. The company will open three additional Ocean Prime locations in 2018 and two new concepts will open in the Short North as well.

Some companies stick to one concept, like Bob Evans Farms or Wendy’s. Then there is Mitchell, who fields a multitude of brands, including Marcella’s, the Pearl, Guild House, Hudson 29, M, Molly Woos. He admits it would be a lot easier and cheaper to stick to one or two concepts, but added that it wouldn’t be as much fun.

“We can’t not grow,” Mitchell said. “I love the action.

“I’ve said, my favorite restaurant is the next one.”

jmalone@dispatch.com

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PHOTOS: Inside BrewDog's new brewery and taproom

From Business First Columbus - Dan Eaton

BrewDog PLC is ready for its U.S. bar debut.

The Scottish craft brewer will open DogTap Columbus on Monday, but hosted shareholders and media members for a preview of its bar and restaurant Wednesday night.

It is the first U.S. pub for the company, which also is set to start brewing at its 100,000-square-foot brewery and U.S. headquarters in Canal Winchester. It is the 48th bar for BrewDog worldwide, which has taverns in 13 other countries.

The Central Ohio operation, however, has some special features. It joins the DogTap in Ellon, Scotland, as one of two bars attached to BrewDog breweries. At 10,000 square feet, it’s five times the size of the typical BrewDog bar.

It has 24 taps and will serve a mix of BrewDog brews and guest beers. The offering Wednesday night included BrewDog’s signature Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club pale ale, Elvis Juice IPA and Cocoa Psycho Russian imperial stout, all of which are being imported from the mother brewery for the time being.

Guest taps included Central Ohio offerings from Land-Grant Brewing Co., Rockmill Brewery and Seventh Son Brewing Co.

The Canal Winchester brewery will start with BrewDog’s four core beers and expand from there over time.

Brewer Gia Nigro said a five-barrel pilot system will be installed at some point and will make special and one-off beers that will be available only at DogTap. The taps will continue to be supplemented with some offerings from Scotland, too.

Food included standard bar fare like pizza, tacos and wings.

Dan Eaton covers retailing and restaurants for Columbus Business First.

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