Over the Brooklyn Bridge

Over the Brooklyn Bridge

I am in New York this week taking the Laverstoke project team around on a research trip.

It’s been a couple of years since my last trip and it is interesting to see that many good places have stood the test of time: Eataly, Chelsea Market, Dean & Deluca, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma….all classic favourites of mine continuing to inspire in some way or other.

But the real change is the development of Brooklyn which was getting there last time I was here but is now the must go destination for anyone with an interest in food. It is here that all the exciting concepts are doing their thing and it is here that you connect with passionate people who want to tell you all about it. Some would say that Americans are annoying with their ‘have a nice day’ approach but for me, I find the enthusiasm infectious especially in Brooklyn where it is genuinely placed and much more informed, as well as infectious, than in many UK destinations.

As ever in NYC, the concepts are focused on doing one thing well and we embraced each one with gusto: coffee, ice cream, bakery, beer, pickles, doughnuts, meat, chocolate….plus lots more. I think it is the fact that these guys get the fundamentals that drive good retail: a focused concept, great product, simple relevant branding and cool young things delivering the service offer to underpin it all.

Lovely packaging at Blue Bottle coffee

Lovely packaging at Blue Bottle coffee

Tiered taps reflecting the ale strengths at Torst

Tiered taps reflecting the ale strengths at Torst

Williamsburg is the first stop particularly along Berry street and if you are lucky a weekend chance to eat your way through Smorgasburg market. Particular favourites were Mast Brothers chocolate, Toby’s Estate and Blue Bottle coffee, Torst, OddFellows ice cream and Briskettown. Interestingly two of these concepts (plus the rather lovely pizza place Paulie Gee’s) were designed by hOmE who are obviously a clever bunch. There is an honesty and simplicity that showcases the product to its best potential. At Torst it is the wooden beer taps and glasses that say all that is needed to be said about their range and credibility. At Mast, the open production and piles of cocoa bean sacks give credibility to the product and the central table of beautifully packaged chocolate bars let’s the product do the talking not only in their display but also in their samples.

SONY DSC

Further south going towards Pacific Heights a special mention should go to Brooklyn Brine and in particular Jenny who had us with her passion for pickles. This lovely lady is everything you could dream of having as a member of staff and she was incredibly generous not only in her time showing us around the rear factory and talking us through all they have achieved but also in her insistence that we all took a free jar away with us. Who knew there could be so much joy to be found in a pickle?

Back in Manhattan we pooled our pics and pondered the industrial designs, the clever touches and the beautiful pieces of reclaimed kit that were so achingly trendy but also so raw against these fabulous shiny new brands. We have taken much from our last couple of days and still have so much more to discover so watch this space.

Good old New York…it never disappoints.

 

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