- 20111214 - Great Taste - RESTAURANT MEMBERSHIPS ANYONE? AN INTERESTING TAKE ON FUNDING A NEW DINING VENTURE

PlumOpening a restaurant at any time is an expensive proposition.  When money is in tight supply as in today's marketplace, it becomes even more of a challenge.  In a November 8 article, "To Raise Cash, Restaurants Turn to the Crowd," New York Times writer, Glenn Collins , reported on a number of creative ways restaurateurs are finding funds while avoiding the common path of taking on big investors.  The popular web funding platform, Kickstarter, is one avenue, relatives might respond to a plea to make a dream happen, and other community-based approaches that include loans and memberships have been tried or are in the works. 
PlumThe Elevens, a new restaurant projected to open in New York's TriBeCa next May, is banking on one million dollars in membership sales to provide a firm financial footing and solid, initial customer base.  That's 2000 folks paying $500 for the right to be part of the latest venture from architects Scott Kester and David Lefkowitz.  Scott recently designed Plum, in Oakland, California, the third dining spot opened by well-known west coast chef, Daniel Patterson.   Kester will join us from NYC to discuss the evolution of this funding model and how the drive for patrons is going.

One specific focus of our discussion is what insights he may provide that could apply to a much smaller market.  Two former chefs from NYC, who now make their home in SE Iowa are also keenly interested.  Liz Peralta and her cousin, Helen, are looking for options that would allow them to offer a fine dining experience locally without breaking the bank.  Liz and Helen will join us in the studio.  Last Friday night at the Main Stay Inn, the cousins along with another chef provided a glimpse of what locals have to look forward to presenting an ambitious menu that included a silky mushroom soup, no-meat eggplant meat balls with fresh tomato sauce, fried quail Dominican style, and coconut flan.  You can check out photos, videos and upcoming events on their Facebook page-Juka Food Revolution.