No Rest For The Weary!
Each summer brings rest and relaxation; between beach trips, an annual pilgrimage to Maine, and chilling out in my pool, I always look forward to June through August for a little recuperation time.
However, this summer had other plans for me! In early July, I began to really sweat (and not just from the sweltering sun)– I was facing seven restaurant openings over seven weeks!
As I returned from my trip to Thailand with Owner and Executive Chef of Circles Thai, Alex Boonphaya, I was greeted with news of Executive Chef Al Paris’ newest endeavor.
While I had been experiencing Thai culture and cuisine, Chef Paris had quietly opened Coastal Blue– a beautiful 260 seat restaurant overlooking the ocean, in The Hotel Icona on Diamond Beach, New Jersey. The airy restaurant welcomes guests into a tranquil seaside space filled with stunning Amalfi Coast inspired décor. Boasting a magnificent menu and a breath taking view, I was excited to alert the media of the hottest seaside restaurant of 2013.
As soon as launched into the public relations campaign for Coastal Blue, I shifted gears and began planning the openings of six other restaurants! The first restaurant to open is Stella Rossa Ristorante in Downingtown; restaurant entrepreneur Dave Magrogan has decided to broaden his European scope, by branching from Irish fare into Italian cuisine! Anticipation is running high for the opening of the gorgeous 7,000-square-foot, 350-seat Italian bistro, featuring warm Tuscan interiors and a mouthwatering menu filled with fresh ingredients from local farmers, fishermen and artisan purveyors.
Next, Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar is scheduled to open August 10th in North Wales! Seriously staking his claim in the Philly foodie scene, Dave Magrogan (owner of Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House, Kildare’s Irish Pubs, Stella Rossa Ristorante and Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar) is welcoming North Wales residents into an upscale, 220-seat wine bar offering a high quality, ultra-fresh menu created with ingredients from 75 local farmers and purveyors.
After a fever paced few weeks publicizing Dave Magrogan’s new ventures, I am planning on creating a stir for Owner and Executive Chef Michael DiBianca’s second restaurant, Satsuma, in Wilmington, Delaware. Satsuma is preparing to wow guests with a modern, minimalist 180-seat interior and an innovative menu focusing on Tokyo street food in mid-August.
Back to the very busy Dave Magrogan; Magrogan has purchased the location formerly known as Square Peg located at 9th and Walnut in Center City, Philadelphia. Currently unsure of which Magrogan concept will enter the space, keep your eyes and ears peeled for more details about the new hot spot in Center City, scheduled to be open by early fall!
Then there’s Royal Cracovia, a dazzling 16,000 square foot, 250-seat European bistro off White Horse Pike in Magnolia, New Jersey. With two large dining rooms, four banquet rooms and a striking bar, Royal Cracovia will be serving Polish standards, European specialties and American classics by early September!
And with Coastal Blue bustling, Chef Al Paris is planning on switching gears to open Paris Bistro located at 8229 Germantown Avenue atop the Chestnut Hill Hotel. With Parisian décor so quaint and elegant that would make any Frenchman melt, Chef Al Paris is set to open his’30s era bistro (equipped with a downstairs jazz café) in October!
Delighted to be so busy, I can’t help but feel blessed by so many opportunities to help the entrepreneurs that trust me to help bring their brands to life. I assign genuine care and attention to each monumental opening; I begin by writing each “Birth Announcement,” which alerts the press and social media followers to the new, unique concept that is going to be opening soon! In gathering the information I act as a reporter, deciphering each restaurant’s décor and configurations of space, menu and price ranges, along with the chef’s approach to their cuisine. I do this to ensure that with each opening, we can “control the message” and build buzz and anticipation for the exciting new dining destinations. Controlling the message also means ensuring there are little assumptions regarding what each concept will deliver to hungry guests in search of the hot new restaurant of the moment.
Once all aspects of a brand are conceived, it is time to ignite another wave of buzz by alerting the media to the (tentative) opening date!
Next comes the fun part: throwing an opening party to cast a few hundred positive first impressions. Who doesn’t want to go to a party for a hot new concept in their area? Guests leave feeling satisfied and in-the-know, ensuring the invaluable word of mouth process throughout a community of influencers.
But don’t get me wrong — it’s not all fun and games! I also consult and write “copy” for each new website, along with developing a strong social media strategy for each brand. Once the social media strategy has been implemented, I confer with professional photographers to develop aesthetically pleasing images that will be used throughout the media to represent the brand.
Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me over the next few months! I love practicing restaurant PR in Philadelphia. As you can tell, I approach my career as if it were a sport. A hard hitting, very intense contact sport!