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.
Reem Assil, Reem’s
Restaurant: Reem’s, a restaurant and home to connect people across cultures and generations through the warmth of Arab bread and hospitality.
Location: Oakland, California
In Reem’s Words:
Six years ago, the dream of Reem’s was born at the doorstep of a street corner bakery in Beirut, Lebanon. The scent of za’atar, yeasted bread, and sweet orange blossom syrup right out of the oven and the sounds of laughter and chatter in Arabic all around me conjured up every forgotten memory of loving my childhood I ever had and every hope I’ve ever had of creating home and community in the United States. I decided to bring this experience to the Bay and create a space that would feel familiar and build strong and vibrant community in its neighborhood.
Reem’s offers offer traditional Arab street foods combining traditional flavors with local organic ingredients, all made with California love. Our vision is to nurture a strong, vibrant community around our food — whether it’s the joy of biting into fresh baked bread from the oven, providing living wage jobs, or partnering with local businesses and farms.
Your contributions will help us build a welcoming, sunny space for people of all generations and backgrounds and fund the initial operating cash we need to open our doors by the end of 2016. Our buildout will include a beautiful oven, traditional saj griddles, and an open kitchen where people can watch the magic of bread production happen. Our space will provide indoor and outdoor seating, where you can play backgammon or chess, talk politics, read the newspaper or a good book, enjoy a date, and anything else your heart desires.
Follow Reem’s Kickstarter campaign here to learn more about her partnership with food incubator La Cocina, why she’s setting up shop in Oakland, and the evolution of her business.
Robin Song, Junju
Restaurant: Junju, a fun and new dining experience exploring traditional Korean techniques through the lens of California agriculture.
Location: San Francisco, California
In Robin’s Words:
Some say opening a restaurant in San Francisco is crazy, and to be honest, I couldn’t agree more. The hope is that my passion will supersede the crazy.
The past few years I’ve focused on solidifying my voice in food. Turning to my heritage has broadened the depth of my pantry and allowed me to explore what it means to be a Korean American chef rooted in California cuisine. Korean food can mean so much more that just BBQ and kimchi, and at Junju, I want to bring forward all the spicy, delicious foods of Korea to San Francisco.
Through Junju, I will bring a fun bar/restaurant serving innovative foods using Korean traditions like fermentation, live fire cooking, and spice. The bar will focus on street foods and the drinking culture of Korea, with another option for late-night dining here in San Francisco. Local architect Iwamoto Scott is designing the bar at Junju to capture the essence of Korean street stalls with a touch of elegance. The dining room will be my expression of Korean BBQ, with an exposed wood-burning oven as the centerpiece.
Follow Robin’s Kickstarter campaign here to learn more about his background, how he’s partnering with local chefs, and his plans for using heritage Korean ingredients.