We Have a Winner! Reem Assil to Open Reem’s Arab Street Corner Bakery

We Have a Winner! Reem Assil to Open Reem's Arab Street Corner Bakery

Last spring we at OpenTable launched a contest to help one restaurateur fund his or her dream project. In conjunction with the release of our How to Open a Restaurant guide, we called on the restaurant community to tell us about the restaurant concepts they wanted to open and enter a competition to win our grand prize, worth more than $38,000 total. In August, after narrowing down the entries with the help of a trusted panel of New York restaurateurs, three finalists launched Kickstarter campaigns to raise money for their restaurant projects.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Reem Assil is the winner of our Restaurant OPEN 2016 contest! Reem raised more than $50,000 through her 40-day Kickstarter campaign — far surpassing our $35,000 goal — and is well on her way to opening the doors to Reem’s, her Arab street corner bakery in Oakland, California.

One of the greatest things about this competition was really to help me celebrate the evolution of Reem’s over the past year,” says Reem. “I’m really fortunate that I have a backing behind me and people who really believe in Reem’s and want to see it as an anchor establishment, the way I envision it.”

The dream of Reem’s was born in a street corner bakery in Beirut, Lebanon six years ago, when the scent of za’atar, yeasted bread and sweet orange blossom syrup inspired Reem to bring the Arab bakery experience to the Bay. She worked as a community and labor organizer for a decade before dedicating herself to a culinary career and is now part of the food business incubator program, La Cocina. Offering traditional Arab street foods combining traditional flavors and local, organic ingredients, Reem aims to nurture a strong, vibrant, welcoming community in her Oakland neighborhood.

The larger work I’ve had to do — and am still really excited about doing — is being the visionary and talking about the larger project of Reem’s,” she adds. “It’s not just a food establishment, but an anchor establishment that provides really good jobs for the folks living in the community and a space for people to gather and learn about Arab culture and history and politics in a way that nobody’s ever done before.”

To recap, here’s what’s included in Reem’s prize package: 

  • A 12-month subscription to OpenTable’s flagship Guest Center product, plus access to the world’s largest diner network and a credit on cover fees
  • A full set of professional All-Clad pans 
  • A set of 25 Hedley & Bennett aprons 
  • 25 annual memberships to the online content from Journee, a community for restaurant professionals
  • $15,000 cash to put toward your project

Read on for our full Q&A with Reem below!Continue Reading

Help 3 Finalists Open a Restaurant! Our Restaurant OPEN 2016 Kickstarter Contest Is On

Earlier this year we released our How to Open a Restaurant guide and launched a contest to help one aspiring restaurateur fund his or her dream project. After narrowing down the entries with the help of a trusted panel of New York restaurateurs, last month we announced our three finalists: Christopher Fehlinger, Reem Assil, and Robin Song. Today, they each launched Kickstarter campaigns to raise money for their restaurant projects!

Over the next 40 days, we’ll be cheering on Christopher, Reem, and Robin as they make progress towards their funding goal of $35,000. On September 9, the contest ends, and the finalist who has raised the most money will be declared the winner.

To recap, here’s what’s included in our grand prize, worth more than $38,000 total: 

  • A 12-month subscription to OpenTable’s flagship Guest Center product, plus access to the world’s largest diner network and a credit on cover fees
  • A full set of professional All-Clad pans 
  • A set of 25 Hedley & Bennett aprons 
  • 25 annual memberships to the online content from Journee, a community for restaurant professionals
  • $15,000 cash to put toward your project

Ready to follow along and lend your support? Get to know the finalists and check out their campaigns below.

Christopher Fehlinger, Clyde

Restaurant: Clyde, a new take on a wine bar, restaurant, and event space — paired with a modern design store — focused on accessibility.

Location: Denver, Colorado

In Christopher’s Words:

Clyde is the culmination of three decades of restaurant experience re-examined with a new passion. We are excited to create a neighborhood hub that offers an all-day refuge for food and wine lovers alike. At Clyde, we also look forward to creating solid jobs in a booming industry in a growing city. More importantly, we hope to nurture the next generation of restaurant professionals and to create career opportunities. Clyde is also our youngest French Bulldog, who some say controls our thoughts.

There are several components (revenue centers) to Clyde that will work in synergy. At the heart of the project, though, is a wine bar built around an affordable and accessible collection. Our goal is to offer 500 labels — most under $80 — along with a few higher-end selections for special occasions. As part of our commitment to create unique and memorable experiences for our guests, we will open just about any bottle for you to try a glass or two. It’s just more fun this way.

A rustic menu of impeccably sourced and simply prepared dishes will partner with the wines, yet stand on its own. Loosely based on the shared plate format, Clyde will offer about 20-25 selections for $25 or less, including traditional starters and entrees along with small plates. And awesome bread, because somewhere along the way restaurants forgot that was a thing people loved. Larger format meals such as standing racks, roasted suckling pig and large, line-caught fish will be available for groups to pre-order and taste with our chef.

Follow Christopher’s Kickstarter campaign here to learn more about Clyde’s modern design store, happy hour, coffee and pastry program, pre-opening pop-ups, and much more.Continue Reading

Trending on Restaurant Reviews: Green Garlic

Green-GarlicGreen garlic isn’t really wholly green, just its stalk. Thus, a more accurate name might be baby garlic — because that’s just what it is. Garlic is sown in the fall and mature heads are harvested in early summer. If you pick it prematurely — right about now in New York, for example — you’ll wind up with young garlic, or green garlic, as it is most commonly known. Its flavor is far more mild than its older counterpart, and it is a popular substitute for leeks, onions, or scallions. Creative chefs, however, are taking this ingenue of an aromatic and making it the headliner. Look for it in everything from consomme and creamy soup to flan and risotto. Find out what diners are raving about in recent restaurant reviews — and don’t miss your chance to sample this short-season savory star. 

Angèle Restaurant & Bar, Napa, California: “We had a wonderful meal at Angele. The highlight was my green garlic risotto, which was fabulous.”

BayWolf, Oakland, California: “Such very pleasant ambiance, service, and an interesting menu. The green garlic flan starter melted in one’s mouth.”

Bocanova, Oakland, California: “Loved the roasted beets with goat cheese, green garlic, and hazelnuts.”

* Cafe Juanita, Seattle, Washington: “The green garlic flan was a great duck accompaniment. We will definitely be going back for more.”

Chez Panisse Cafe, Berkeley, California: “I had four exquisite meals at Chez Panisse. One dish, as an example, that I’ll never forget: slivers of baby artichoke and sunchoke, green garlic, olive oil, a hint of lemon, and truffles. So understated, but my dining companion and I stopped talking in order to assimilate and admire the simple genius of this dish.”

Fish Story, Napa, California: “Beautiful location, great looking menu. The seafood was fresh, and the chilled green garlic soup was very fresh and tasty.”

* Fruition Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: “I started with the green garlic consomme and was blown away by the complex flavors and the little surprises in the dish. I’m not going to go into great detail here because I want you to try it. This was the star of the night for me.”

Continue Reading