Treatful, the "Anti-Groupon," Brings Online Gift Certificates to Acclaimed Restaurants into the 21st Century
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), we Americans are in the process of spending around $28 billion on gift cards this holiday season, with 80 percent of us choosing to buy at least one, spending an average of $43.23 per card.
There’s nothing new about gift cards, of course, but what is new in 2011 is the effort by a number of local startups to attack the traditional, impersonal sort of card with a new, much more personalized online approach.
Now there’s a fourth to add to the list – Treatful – co-founded by two Stanford business school grads, Brent Looney and Hoon Kim.
It's Fall. And with Fall, restaurant openings go haywire. Charles Phan's Wo Hing General Store, three new BBQ/Southern-inspired restaurants (in the Mission and the Marina) and the first of three Bay Area Umami Burgers should be opening in the next few months. And that's just off the top of my head. With soft-opening this, and grand opening that, firing off left and right, sometimes it's nice—necessary, even—to step back and relish the gems that've been sitting here, right underneath our noses, for years: the Chez Papas, Canteens, and Outerlands of our city. This post is dedicated to the San Francisco fixtures that haven't just survived for three, five, maybe even 20 years, in our cutthroat restaurant-scape; they've flourished. And you better believe they've got something good in the works for the next few months.
Aziza’s Mourad Lahlou always has something up his sleeve. (You might remember his creative use of green strawberries from an earlier Market Watch post). On Saturday, as I was thinking about next week’s goat festival, I asked several chefs at the market about their favorite ways to cook with goat and goat milk products. As always, Mourad’s answer sounded both surprising and delicious.
Every week, Lulu Meyer gives us the scoop on the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
The restaurant question we get asked more than anything is definitely: "Where should we go for my friend's birthday party?" Generally speaking, the situation involves a party of 10, more than a party of 200, but this restaurant short-list can accomodate a wide scope of food preferences, ambiance and number of people. Since we're of the mindset that hard booze never hurts, we've put a star by the restaurants with a full bar. Go ahead now: Celebrate good times. Common!
No longer in a pre- or post-holiday stupor, we finally feel we've got the clarity to reflect on a year of eating. It took some sifting through our notebooks, some brain jogging, some staring off into space: And then it all came back to us with the shocking clarity that only memories of delicious meals can conjur up. Some of these dishes are from new restaurants, and some from old favorites. Either way, they all defined a moment.
JESSICA'S TOP 10
What do Aziza chef-owner Mourad Lahlou and Sonoma-based Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert have in common? Not much, as it turns out. I just spent the weekend at the annual CIA Worlds of Flavor conference, where old guard and new guard rubbed shoulders, swapped recipes and took in demos on everything from Syrian pastry making to live fire grilling. It’s one of the more well-organized and inspirational food conferences out there; you should consider putting it on your calendar for next year, when the theme will be street food of the world.