A lot has happened since we last spoke. The past week has felt like a real leap forward for Schnitz and I couldn’t be any prouder of all the good ol’ fashioned hard work we’ve put forth to get here. It hasn’t been easy and there is still plenty more to come, but in the next few paragraphs I’d like to take a minute and update our loyal supporters. As many of our readers know, Schnitz has seen an astonishing level of press recently. It all started several weeks ago when Mario Batali graced us with his jubilant presence at Smorgasburg. We knew then that we had to parlay his tweet into something bigger, and that ABC was planning on using the footage they shot of our booth in some way on “The Chew”. Things were certainly on the horizon, but nothing could have prepared us for the news we received last Wednesday.
Waking up that morning, I received a text from my girlfriend, Angelina, that seemed strange; “Hester?? You’ve got some scrambling to do…” Curious, I grabbed my phone and saw no emails from anyone at Hester Street Fair’s camp regarding our application status for their new “Night Market” we so eagerly awaited. I then checked their website which made my jaw drop. There it was, on their official vendor lineup for the grand opening of Hester Nights, “Schnitz”. Oh boy. My next move was to call Donna and see if she knew anything. She didn’t. A few minutes later she calls me back, her tone was way more desperate. “Yoni, holy shit. I just saw that I got an email from Jane at 3am, a vendor cancelled last minute and we’re in!!”
A logistical nightmare began to take shape. How on Earth can we pull this off? Less than 24 hours’ notice, kitchen is NOT stocked, and we have no commitments from any friends or workers to help us. I started the day thinking of ways to gently tell Hester that while we are more than thrilled to be participating, we may not make it for opening day. At this point I figured they’d understand and hopefully we can lock down the spot for next week, and maybe the rest of the season. Then the next big email dropped in.
As it turns out, ABC’s “The Chew” had been working on the footage they shot of us (and several other vendors) for a segment that will be part of their summer fun program. They want us to prepare 5 Bamberg sandwiches for the hosts to eat on the show after they show the segment on Smorgasburg. The episode is set to air on June 22nd, but the taping was for the next day. Yea, same day as our supposed premier at Hester Nights! The proverbial shit had hit the fan…quickly. I had no choice but to leave my day job early and run over to our kitchen space to begin prepping the sandwiches for ABC. All the while, we awaited a response from Hester regarding whether or not we could start the following week. Then at around 4pm, just as I had finished putting together a cooler of the mise en place for “The Chew” hosts, they gave us their response.
Being that it is their grand opening night, Hester is expecting a lot of press to show up and an empty booth is simply not an option. Jane, the organizer, made this point very clear. Even if we could simply throw something together that would be fine, the main issue is that we show up. We now had no choice but to start clambering everything together. On top of this, Donna and I were scheduled to arrive at ABC studios on 67th street the next morning at 7am. Needless to say, I had a long night ahead of me. We decided to just offer Bamberg at Hester so I headed to Trader Joe’s (which ain’t that cheap!) for all the veggies and dairy we would need to prep that night. Due to how late in the day it was, bread and chicken would have to wait until the next day. I sent our sales reps over at London Meat and TomCat bakery an emergency email notifying them of our predicament. Then I crossed my fingers.
The next morning I picked up Donna at the ass crack of dawn and we headed to Long Island City to pick up some fresh pretzel bread for “The Chew”. Batali must NOT have crusty bread! As we pulled up to the side entrance of ABC, iron chef Michael Symon was just finishing his morning cigarette. Donna and I exchanged looks of excitement, “here we are!!” Once we found parking, Donna and I were greeted by associate producer, Dan Aldworth (aka the sweetest man in the world). Dan escorted us through the set and into the kitchen where Donna and I would explain the sandwich assembly in detail to their kitchen staff. Once they had been given the run down, Dan brought us to our seats where the Bon Chovie team was already hanging out. It was then when we learned that of all the vendors Mario Batali visited, they chose only three to feature on this segment; Schnitz, Mighty Quinn’s, and Bon Chovie. This morning, we were rock stars. Surrounded by some of the most talented culinary minds in the world and it’s us they want to talk about! Before the audience began filing in, the producers played the video of the Smorgasburg segment for us as a sneak peek. I’m not gonna give anything away because you all better have your DVRs set, but it was nothing short of awesome! Chef Batali describes the markets and their spirit in such perfection it nearly gave me goose bumps. They show our booth, some of my interaction with the iron chef and of course the sandwiches. We are more than pleased with the way it came out, but the entire segment was genuine, tasteful and conveys exactly what these markets are trying to accomplish.
After the taping of the actual show (and some dancing with Carla Hall), we left the studio on an absolute high. Both Donna and I had huge smiles on our faces as we walked over to the car. However this moment of sheer joy was quickly replaced by worry once we headed over to London Meats. I didn’t have to time to call ahead so we had to bite the bullet and just show up. Hopefully they will still have some boned out thighs for us! On the way over I got a phone call from Jamie, our sales rep at TomCat, with some great news; they have some extra pretzel dough left and can fill most of my order for Hester Nights! Phew! Now all that is left is chicken. Donna managed to get a couple of our prep guys to come meet me at the kitchen to pound the chicken and then head straight over to Manhattan to set up for the night market. We now had only 2 hours.
Even the good vibes I had gotten from our taping at ABC couldn’t bring my nerves down. We managed to find the last box of boned out thighs London Meats had to offer and sped all the way to Greenpoint with them. I had the guys (DVD and Angel) pounding it as fast as they could while I started to load the car. The minutes kept ticking away and I was feeling the pressure now. Even with the torrential downpour consuming the entire city, we kept pushing forward. It is now 1:15pm, chicken is pounded and tender, bread has arrived nice and fresh, sauces and pickles are also loaded and ready to go. As soon as I clapped my hands together in my patented “here we go!” fashion, my phone buzzes. It’s Donna. I can already tell that something is up before I slide my finger across the screen to read the text; “They cancelled!!!”
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt a small wave of relief. Yes, I had just sacrificed sleep, money, and sufficiently pestered all of my vendors but it was at this moment that I could finally stop moving and breathe a bit. We unloaded everything, cleaned up and I bought the guys some pizza (the perks!) for all their hard work. That evening, after I had settled everything, I called Donna and asked, “Did that day really just happen?”
My Fellow Schnitzers,
It comes with great pleasure that I present to you the official rendering of Schnitz’ brand spanking new canopy, set to debut this Saturday at Smorgasburg! We just received word that it has shipped and should arrive this evening or tomorrow. See you there!
Check us out in todays Manhattan section! We couldnt be more thrilled!
We got some amazing news this afternoon from the producers over at The Chew that we just had to share!
They will be doing a live taping tomorrow morning at 8am in the studio and Yoni and I will be bringing over samples of our Bamberg sandwich so that each host gets to try some on air!! We also get to be part of the studio audience :)
Right now Yoni is over at the kitchen prepping some awesome sandwiches to bring over tomorrow, finding out where we can get some fresh pretzel bread from a TomCat retailer, and finding the nicest chicken thighs available in the Tri-State area.
The episode itself will air Friday, June 22 so mark your calendars and we will be sure to post about our adventures tomorrow morning.
Wish us luck!
In other exciting news, Schnitz will be joining the much hyped Hester Street NIGHT fair at the Hotel Eventi in midtown.
We were not very prepared for this news as we recieved confirmation last night at 3am so we are scrambling to get sandwiches ready for not just The Chew taping, but also to have some schnitz to sell tomorrow night for the opening. It is super important for us to be there as TONS of important press are showing up.
Not only do we not know how we’re going to prep all the pickles, sauces, and schnitz, but we are not sure about staffing. Hopefully all will work out, I have faith in our little Schnitz Team that we can accomplish all with a smile on our face.
Check out some links below about the HSF Night Market!
Come one, come all for its a glorious day at Smorgasburg! We’ll also be debuting a brand spankin’ new side: sweet potato slaw with toasted cashews, scallions, and Yoni’s personal fave: creme fraiche!
27 N. 6th Street
I’m always inspired by crowdfunding intitiatives so I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention aKickstarter project for the restaurant S’MAC. For those who are not familiar, this is a mac and cheese concept based in the East Village. It’s a quick-serve, single item menu and everything is made fresh to order - sound familiar? :)
The owners are the husband & wife team of Sarita & Caesar Ekya and they are in the process of opening their 3rd location in Manhattan (Murray Hill). They are using Kickstarter to tap into the community and help raise the remaining $100,000 they need to complete the build-out of their new location. Looks like they are taking on a bigger space than usual at 60 seats/1800 sqft.
I’ve thought about the rewards we would offer if we launched a crowdfunding initiative. I think S’MAC has done a pretty good job. They have all sorts of merchandise, soft opening tickets, mail order food and personal chef experiences. I’m curious to see how this project progresses with an established restaurant business and to see if the Kickstarter platform gains them the traction they need to reach their goal. As of this writing, they have raised $1,325 from 22 backers with 22 days to go. Head over to their Kickstarter page to support S’MAC!
We’ll reach out to Sarita at the conclusion to ask about her experience.
Week 5 Recap: Schnitz Has A Special Visitor
Hello My Fellow Schnitzers!
Week five has come and gone, and so far Schnitz at the ‘burg season 2 has had it’s share of mishaps, surprises and triumphs, but none have come quite as close to what we experienced this past Saturday.
It began like any other day at the market for me really; I turned the corner to hop in my car, and it’s nowhere to be found. An all too familiar wave of shock and panic sent my heart plunging into my abdomen. How THE FUCK can this be happening…again? I have been so careful to check each and every sign when I park in the LES on Friday nights, and last night was no different. So without any delay, I quickly checked the new piece of red paper taped to the parking sign on Norfolk where my car had once been and raced over to Houston St to find a cab. As I made the excruciating trip down the west side highway back to the impound, all I could think about was the mad scramble Matt, Miguel and I would have to make later to catch up on all the time I lost us. As I darted into the waiting room of the impound, I was relieved at how empty it had been, but that all changed when I heard the strange news that my car “ain’t here!” Stunned once again, I could barely pay attention to the clerk as she all but guaranteed me the DOT had simply moved my car to do repair work based on what the red sign had said. I ran back out to the street and hailed another cab to take me back to scene of the crime. As I pulled up to the corner of Houston and Norfolk, my only plan was to run around the surrounding streets pushing the unlock button on my keys hoping to hear the beeping sound in the distance. Well, in less than five minutes my plan had worked and I was staring at my car. It was merely one street east on Suffolk with a neat little sign attached to the wiper letting me know what had happened. Hey, at least I didn’t a ticket.
Once the boys and I were all set-up I stood up in front of our booth and continued to curse the skies. All week we were promised sun and 70 degree weather. Fuck you, iPhone…seriously. It wasn’t even 11am, and I could tell that the day was going to be underwhelming as basically NO mommies and strollers had been doing their usual reconnaissance missions. Yes, sir today was going to be a really blah day capped off with me angrily throwing away too much poultry. Just as I had finished my latest meteorological rant, I noticed a small scene going on across the market by the N7 street entrance. Right there in the flesh, surrounded by a small camera crew, is Mario motherfuckin Batali! And he was headed right in our direction.
I turned around to Matt and shouted, “Get me a Bamberg ready NOW!” Before I could even turn back around, I find myself face to face with the Iron Chef, a big ass TV camera and a microphone boom. “Schnitz! How are you today?” Mario asks. “Very well, sir great to see you! What can I get for ya?” I said. I think. After letting me know he had scoped us out last week, he turned the attention squarely on the Schnitz. “So what is Schnitz?” I’ll admit, I am more than prepared for this question. It seems I have been readying for it for over one year now, but when Mario Batali is asking you it may take a second for that part of the brain to kick in, trust me. I regained my senses and then launched into the usual lingo and quickly got to the beautiful sample sandwiches sitting in front of him. I barely finished listing the ingredients when Mario exclaimed, “Have you ever heard more pornographic things in one sentence?” Guys let me tell you that if I could capture this moment in a bottle, I would wear it around my neck (outside the shirt) until my last breath.
Before I could get to the Sweet Onion, he went ahead and ordered a Bamberg and a Limo Nana. Matt had a perfect monster of a sandwich ready to go and I handed to him right away. Mario Batali is now holding one of OUR sandwiches that WE invented! Now he’s eating it! The look on his face after the first bite said it all. His eyes closed tightly, face smushed together in enjoyment as he turned to the camera (ABC cameras as we would later find out). HOLY SCHNITZ, HE LOVES US! He turned to the rest of his group and said “Oh man you gotta try this!” It was just one of those moments that completely validates everything you are working toward. To have someone of his caliber even come to the Smorgasburg is incredible, having an opportunity like this? Well, priceless. This is the kind of PR most restaurants like us can only dream about. Everything had coalesced into one perfect scene.
As if this wasn’t enough, a few minutes later the camera crew returned to capture some more footage of Schnitz. They interviewed me for 20 minutes about Schnitz, our product and what it was like to have Mario Batali come out and try our food. After this, they filmed the guys assembling the sandwiches, got some closeups of the finished product and our logo. Let’s just say they were given full access to the Schnitz operation. In doing so, we learned that this particular camera crew was with ABC’s The Chew which is a daily show at 1pm that’s all about food featuring famous chefs and TV personalities a-la “The View”. We exchanged information and the producers mentioned that they would try to have this footage finished by Wednesday of this week to be aired on Thursday. So set your DVRs!
After the crew had left, I felt like running to the rooftop of The Edge and shouting “MARIO BATALI LOVES OUR SCHNITZ”. I simply could not process the importance of what had just happened, I was still on such a high. NOTHING could wipe the smile off of my face the rest of that day. To cap this all off, on his way out, Chef Batali came back to our booth and said, “You guys were the bite of day!” In fact, he too felt the urge to shout it from the rooftops…of twitter.
Just want to let you all know that we launched our new facebook timeline cover. For those of you who are familiar, the timeline cover was originally introduced to personal profile pages and is now completely rolled out to business pages. It takes some getting used to but I believe the cover helps give a nice look and feel to your page. People have created unique expressions of their brand.
I was looking for some creative help in my search for a Facebook cover and I came across an offer on Appsumo which is a daily deals site for web applications. For $49, a company called Social Media Branding Kit created a facebook timeline cover with unlimited revisions (normally $99). After 5 rounds of changes, we completed the cover. They won’t make you look like a billion dollar company but with enough design direction, you can achieve a nice finished product and certainly get your money’s worth.
We decided to go with an instagram filtered photo of our booth at Smorgasburg. What’s interesting is we actually made the thumbnail image (bottom left) an extension of the cover. Most businesses use the thumbnail image as a spot for their logo but we found a cool article that explains how to setup a facebook page like ours and the exact dimensions that are needed. Our facebook cover and the dimensions are below. More to come on social media marketing for restaurants!