I have been missing NYC, a lot. As a foodie, there is just nothing like walking into any old place off the beaten path and seeing some new invention or trend hitting the streets. The best part about NYC is that it is the pinnacle. The concepts that are created are perfect for what they are designed for: THE NEW YORKER. Few have tried, and many have failed when trying to go International or even National. When they do leave, they become watered down or transformed into a concept that ‘all of America’ will like. The beauty in the purity vanishes.
New York is a unique environment unto itself because a high check average is an expectation. Good quality ingredients is just par for the course because of access to variety. Concepts are designed by emerging and seasoned designers who know their market and how to provide the best possible guest experience. Brooklyn gets the wrap of the “land of millennial food concepts” because the rents are cheap and talent is high. Restauranteurs are willing to take bigger risks in Williamsburg, Red Hook and Dumbo before taking on the bridge to Manhattan. There are rarely crossovers of success sadly, because just like NYC, these Brooklyn concepts are created for Brooklynites (quirky, theatrical, artisanal and a little folky).
When a concept leaves, the essence of is retained in typically 1 menu item and 1 design trait. It might be a conceptual idea like, “haute vintage” or a physical element like a meat hook on the wall. Whatever it is, imagine the essence of all a dining concepts being wrapped up into two easy-to-get traits. Seems easy… but to find a differentiator that will appeal to the whole of America, or the whole of the world, is nearly impossible.
What made me really think about NYC was visiting Antigua. Here we were in a massive indoor/outdoor market, and it is filled with stands which have those quintessential, unequivocal or transformable traits which make up the basis for the trendy restaurants/markets in NYC. It seems as though everything in NYC has been modeled after the concepts in the Market (except with food safety standards in place). This got me thinking, so if NYC is my hub of all ideas, and from there it gets watered down to two easy-to-get traits, I am going to imagine that the ‘street market’ is the original and NYC is the watered down version of it. Incredible to think that NYC is not the hub of all ideas… and in actuality, I can get to the root of the idea from being here.
This comes at a time when I am feeling like my relationship to quality ideas is beginning to blend into average. By being here, my opportunity for good quality restaurants / food is next to none, which has made me start to question whether this move is going to work in the long term. I need to be in Dubai, Mumbai, Rio, and Hong Kong… emerging markets where the west is only beginning to influence, and ideas for newness run rampid. So it was very exciting to be in a place that showed me something new –
Welcome to the East Harlem / Brooklyn meat market. Seriously, everything from the style of the lighting to the guy behind the counter made this space feel like we were back in the streets of NYC (less food safety concerns).