Le Caviste
 
Le Caviste is dreamy! 
 
We love the small bar with high ceilings and huge windows. And the perfect shade of green paint. 
 
Nine of ten Cru Beaujolais are available and all served at perfect temperature by Seattle's own David Butler. You might recognize him from Campagne, Le Gourmand, or Le Pichet. 
 
It's the perfect combination of austerity and resolve. 
 
good bar design
Bar Design
 
The best part about traveling for business is the ability to see all sorts of fun things in the name of research. The worst part about visiting an ever-changing assortment of restaurants and bars is a failed customer experience that could have been saved with slight adjustments to design.
 
While we won’t hand out our list of favorite bars, we are willing to share various ways that restaurants, drinking establishments, architects, and construction firms are currently applying these ideas into inspired design. There’s something here for everyone – from independents and fine dining to fast casual concepts and restaurant chains.
 
Here are our top six tips for building a better bar:
  1. Before adding small plates to your menu to increase the average ticket, think about investing in stools with a back so your patrons will be more inclined to stay longer. It’s a small investment that pays off by encouraging patrons to linger. 
  2. Give ladies a spot for their handbags. Purse hooks concealed under a bar help to fill your bar, because women won’t use an extra seat. And, in crowded spaces or captive venues, your customers will feel safer in your establishment knowing that their belongings are near.
  3. U-shaped bars will make your bartenders life easier and make for happier guests. From a central point in the U, your staff can hold court while serving multiple customers in a smaller space. Long bars, while less costly to build, require more employees to cover a similar number of patrons.
  4. Forgo the clunky Point of Sale station and equip your staff with technology. The iPad and various other tablets can integrate with your current software. If they don’t, consider an upgrade. Digital dining helps to streamline operations, expedite service, and might save you money by eliminating licensing fees or hidden costs.  
  5. If you are going to have dim lighting as part of the atmosphere, consider printing your menu with streamlined sans serif font. And limit your use of fonts on any menu to two (which should never include Herculanum, Papyrus or Lucida Handwriting).
  6. Add power before jumping on the latest trend that’s targeting Millennials. This generation – and others with money to spend – wants to plug-in (literally). Installing power sockets is a better investment for keeping patrons coming back again. It will likely drive your social media engagement, too. 
 
Secret Location
Secret Location
 
To name a concept store Secret Location would seem a little gimmicky unless you ventured into the 1/2 retail, 1/2 restaurant playful space in Vancouver, Canada. Separated by a minty green foyer, the fashion-meets-food 10,000 sq.ft. "shopstaurant" (yes- we made that up), complete with doormen at the entrance, is ultra-modern, luxuriously eclectic, and visually dramatic.
 
Secret Location Vancouver
 
North of the front doors, we discovered a beautiful assortment of women's apparel, accessories, shoes, books, music, and cameras/gadgets from brands such as Camilla Skovgaard, Marios Schwab, United Nude, Thierry Lasry, Rad Hourani, Tweety, Pantone, and artist Lauren Clay of Brooklyn NY. The fixturing is a combination of modern and traditional, with a hint of baroque. The space maintains a constant frequency with open spaces to allow the products to shine.

 
 
"Secret Location supports a diverse mix of fashion-forward international and Canadian designers. We do not acknowledge brands, but place emphasis on quality craftsmanship, design philosophy and creative ingenuity that stands behind each product. Determined to offer new, thought provoking and limited quantity pieces, Secret Location is and will continue to be an ever-evolving place of discovery."
 
 
To the south, the  bar + restaurant is the perfect spot to escape from tourists with a glass of rose. The setting, much like the shop, is modern and classic without feeling sterile or over-designed.
 
 
Secret Location Cafe
 
Located in the historic gastown area, the term Secret Location is definitely a play on words for the word-of-mouth crowd. The only secret may, or may not be in the ownership of the concept.
 
Churchkey Can Co. Launch
 
Churchkey Can Co. is bringing back packaging long associated with Americana with the launch of it's handcrafted Pilsner-style beer. We threw back a few at the brand's launch event on April 10th at King's Hardware to gain insights into how this old-school, three-piece, flat top steel can from Ball Corporation is aiming to change an interaction into an experience.
 
The story of the flat top beer can, which must be opened with a "church key", dates back to 1935 when the first flat top cans were introduced. Canned beer was an immediate success and others quickly joined the marketplace with this versatile packaging. Back-in-the-day, the innovation allowed the portability and freshness to enjoy a beverage of choice anywhere and with anyone. The flat top can remained a standard until the pull-tab came to market in the mid-1960s.
 
Churchkey Can Co
{Photo: Churchkey Can Co.}
 
The throwback packaging is not only unique but functional. "Increasingly, beer drinkers are learning that cracking open a craft beer in a Ball can – whether in an aluminum or steel can – is like tapping a fresh keg ... you get exactly what you expected," said Gary Woeste, vice president, sales and marketing, for Ball's metal food and household products packaging division, Americas.
 
Founded by actor Adrian Grenier, Justin Hawkins, and Ryan Sowards, Churchkey Can Co.'s eco-conscious influence isn't ironic. Cans are a sustainability success story and the number one recycled beverage container of any kind in the United States according to data provided by Ball Corporation. Steel cans have the highest recycling rate of any food package at 66 percent while aluminum cans enjoy the highest recycling of any beverage packaging at 58.7 percent. Both steel and aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable and require less fuel to ship to the brewery and to retail outlets after being filled.
 
Churchkey Adrian Grenier
Justin Hawkins and Adrian Grenier at King's Hardware
{Photo: Churchkey Can Co.}
 
The Pacific Northwest-brewed Pilsner-style craft beer was originated by Portland-based home brewers Lucas Jones and Sean Burke — who have been crafting home brewed beer in their garages for many years. To bring the beer to market, Churchkey Can Co. turned to Joel VandenBrink, head brewer at Two Beers Brewing Co. and the first Washington brewery to produce 12-ounce cans.
 
"It's about the joy of drinking good beer – from the people you drink it with, to where you drink it, and with this unique package, how you open it," said Justin Hawkins, Churchkey's co-founder and creative director. "We didn't make these traditions, but are keeping them alive with Churchkey."

Churchkey Can Co
{Photo: Churchkey Can Co.}
 
The backdrop of King's Hardware was an excellent choice for the brand. "We had a great time hosting Churchkey – obviously I love all things retro. I remember my grandfather and my dad drinking beer from flat top cans on summer afternoons at a lake we used to go to in the Adirondacks when I was a kid," said Linda Derschang, owner of King's Hardware. "The cool thing is the steel can is great for the taste of the beer and is totally recyclable, so you get to enjoy retro packaging without the guilt," she continued.
 
The launch of Churchkey Can Co. marks nearly 50 years since the introduction of the original flat top steel can. Like trends that harken back to an earlier time, the package and product must be in sync to resonate with consumers, retailers, and drinking establishments. In addition to King’s Hardware, the newest flat top steel cans are sold at PCC, Whole Foods, Dig and Pony, and RN74.
 
Churchkey Launch
{Photo: Churchkey Can Co.}
 
For us, the strength this brand centers around simplicity and less-ism — an opener, which obtains its name from its similarity in style to the large old fashion keys formerly used to open a church, and the little extra effort of punching two small triangular holes into the top of the can, allowing for aeration and pouring of the beer.
 
What's nice about this beer — and the experience — is what you can't do when you are opening the can: talk on your cell phone, Instagram what's for dinner, or change the channel on the remote.
 
It's worth the effort.
 
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Editors Note: Special thanks for Erika Desroche of Blonde House Production for the heads up and invitation to this event.
 
We've long been fans of circular shapes that create interactive experiences. 
 
In Barcelona, the open-air farmers market La Boqueria showcases an abundance of fresh seafood in brightly lit stalls that look more like space-age carousels than fish stands. Customers are able to navigate efficiently through the maze of vendors and explore the captivating displays.
 
We love the use of a rounded shape in retail, restaurants, and bars as a focal point that celebrates design and function.

 
We're certainly not the first to write about Side Street Inn and judging from our outstanding dinner (2x in eight days) we will not be the last. Our friends told us about the amazing smoked pork (above)... Anthony Bourdain went there in the Hawaii episode of No Reservations ... and local chefs like Alan Wong have been customer's since 1992.

What keeps people coming back is the local-style food Hawaiian food (a fusion of cuisines reflective of all of the cultural influences of the islands) in an unassuming sports bar down an alley in Honolulu. It's super casual and a total gem in a sea of chain restaurants.

 

Everything is pupu style in family size portions. Poke Hawaiian style with Maui onions, ahi with ogo namasu, and famous fried rice. We also loved the Nalo Farms salad and a beef short ribs dish served on kimchi but the photos were too poor to post.
 
Since early December of last year, we've been exploring Mexican cuisine and tequila in anticipation for the grand opening of The Saint. Last week we were honored to attend the soft opening party and proudly report that the Saint totally lived up to its promise with 83 tequilas, an outstanding cocktail list, homemade tortillas, a killer puerco pibil and our personal favorite- the margarita granita served with or without tequila.
 
Our client sure looks good.
 

We've been thinking about captive retail lately and interested in the changes occurring....

Airport retail and food selections are more upscale in major markets; with hubs like Heathrow and Hong Kong offering an array of deluxe services from salons for a post-transatlantic blowout to sleeping quarters for a little shuteye during a layover. Many jokingly say that the best shopping and value (duty free) in Rome is at L’Aeroporto di Fiumicino. In the US, Butter London has opened airport locations for a quick mani/pedi before you go on holiday.

The food is getting better with sushi and champagne bars that make travel an iconic experience. Now that passengers are responsible for being at the airport well before their scheduled departure, fashion icons are challenging traditional gift stores for customer share.

 

{photo: BA.com}
 

We waited with baited breath to report on the luxe services at Terminal 5 in Heathrow but the launch was overshadowed by reports of baggage delays, a supermodel assault, and extensive flight cancellations.
 

 
Our visit to the 1920's speakeasy style Bourbon & Branch was lovely but more interesting was the complementary amuse-bouche: a concoction of Tia Maria with Framboise. Quite unexpected.

Photos are prohibited inside and you must make a reservation to enter the establishment (you will be emailed a passcode). Other "house rules" include: no standing at the bar, no cell phone use, and "don't even think of asking for a Cosmo".

 
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During our visit to the Fancy Food Show, we visited el Agave — a tequileria, tequila museum, and restaurant in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego.
 
We love the beautiful casework and excellent selection of 1000 tequilas. Each selection is served in hand-blown shot glass and accompanied with sangrita, a housemade tomato/lime/orange juice.