Subscription service table 22 connects customers to local restaurants in a new way
Like coal squeezed into diamonds, when we are put under pressure – like, say, the sudden onset of a global pandemic – great and surprising concepts can be created. Enter Table 22, a new subscription service that, unlike many third-party services, aims to create a beneficial relationship for its local partner restaurants, including six Colorado restaurants that are currently partnered with the service: Urban Farmer, American Elm, Mercantile, Rioja and Goed Zuur in Denver and the Emporium in Fort Collins.
The company previously operated as a “nationwide, venture capital-backed real estate market,” according to the current Table 22 website, before the pandemic forced it to close, but its team of Smart, creative and business-minded people soon realized they could use their powers for the betterment of the hospitality industry.
The principle is multiple: to provide restaurants with an additional source of income, to open up a new way of engaging customers beyond the physical space of the restaurant and to do so in a sustainable manner. When a restaurant partners with Table 22, it benefits from specialist advice to create a fully personalized subscription service available for collection on site or for delivery. The range of possibilities includes everything from a rotating selection of selected wines to a sample of the restaurant’s dinner menu.
With nearly every restaurant pivoting to curbside delivery and pickup during pandemic restaurant closures, the concept of specialty food and beverage subscriptions didn’t require much persuasion, especially since it is a way of eliminating paying delivery intermediaries and creating a more personalized experience between a restaurant and its customers.
Sample bottles and tasting glasses are part of the Urban Farmer’s Wine Share program.
Sage restaurant concepts
Executive chef Ryan Rau of Urban Farmer Steakhouse, 1659 Wazee Street, says he and his team were contacted by Table 22 in late 2020, while they were in the process of researching a similar service. âWe were exploring alternative and off-site options to stay in touch with our customers as the latest wave of pandemic closures forced us to close our dining room again,â says Rau. The Urban Farmer team had been considering starting a wine club for a few years, but Rau said it was table 22 that had the right infrastructure “without a big lift for our already extensive team”.
Urban Farmer launched its Wine Share subscription program, which offers three levels of wine selections and snack or cheese accompaniments, in November 2020. Chef Rau says choosing to do a wine sharing program as opposed to to a more diet-oriented subscription seemed like the most natural place to start. âThe setting was something we had imagined before,â he says. “Now that we have about six months under our belt, we are planning some changes to the program to provide our guests with an even better experience … Now that the pandemic is waning and operations are starting to return to normal, we are delighted to be focus more on themes that align with our values, such as sustainability and community, and expand our sourcing to special allocations, small wineries partners and more. â
The sustainability goals for participating restaurants actually coincide quite well with the layout of Table 22. Because subscribers buy products before they run, it gives restaurants a chance to “cut waste, get better deals from them. suppliers and never run out of money, âaccording to the Table 22 website. The recurring theme for current Denver-based Table 22 attendees is that most were already looking for exactly the kind of alternative. offered by the subscription service, and the personalization of the offers is a great attraction for potential partners.
For American Elm at 4132 West 38th Avenue, it was a natural transition from a system she already had in place called the Weekly Meals program. Owner Bob Reiter says he’s letting Chef Brent Turnipseede, Bar Manager Travis Gale and General Manager Alex Flower lead the monthly offerings. âWe try to create offers that reflect the American Elm experience,â notes Reiter. This includes three separate subscriptions, one dedicated to cocktails, the other to wine, and the third to the monthly Supper Club featuring chef-prepared three-course meals.
Perhaps even more appealing than the personalized experience is the ease with which Table 22 enables restaurants to be successful with their service. Nick Cary, who helped coordinate Table 22 offerings at Mercantile inside Union Station as General Manager (although he’s now moved to another restaurant), appreciates how Table 22 offers a more organized approach than individual meal kits. âTable 22 understands and is ready to help a restaurant,â he says. âThey make sure we have everything we need, believe in restaurants and want to help them continue to grow. “
Cary also points out that the model in Table 22 leaves a good profit margin for restaurants to thrive and the payment structure is beneficial as well. âThey make sure we have all the funds from the month’s subscriptions before filling up the following month to avoid any personal expense,â he explains. Table 22 also manages communication with customers and provides easy-to-understand sales reports for restaurants. âYou don’t really see a lot of innovation in the way we do things,â Cary continues. âIt challenges the typical dining experience while complementing and supporting it. “
Another win for Table 22: it supports any additional purpose, especially charity, that a restaurant might have. For Urban Farmer, it was essential to continue working with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing meals in the aftermath of natural disasters; the restaurant donates part of the proceeds from its table 22 to the organization. âWe have supported World Central Kitchen through Sage Restaurant Concepts’ Hungry to Help program in a variety of ways over the past few years. We think the organization’s mission is amazing, and we’re proud to support the work they do.
Ultimately, it looks like the convenience of pickup and delivery from restaurants across the United States is here to stay. Table 22 is a new way to experience fine dining that challenges traditional third-party methods and keeps customers and restaurants connected – essentially a win-win for everyone.
Visit table22.com for more information and to sign up for subscription services.
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