Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bolt Burgers - Not Just Another Burger Place

Bolt Burgers
1010 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 320-9200

Just a little background here - Bolt Burgers has been in the works for a long time. It's a creation sprung from the imagination of a few different groups headed by Mike Davidson, Joe Spinelli and Troy Clayton.
Mike is an optician by trade, Joe is the man behind the scenes in the Mid-Atlantic restaurant business (trust me, you've been somewhere he's touched, likely on a daily basis) and Troy is a chef/owner of a restaurant in Alexandria.
What's different about this burger place? A lot. Anyone can cook a burger, but not everyone can cook a real (read not-fast-food) burger to the same temp over 1000 times a day without breaking a sweat. Not everyone has custom blended spices and sauces, and not everyone uses this much technology to make it happen.
As always, I head straight for the kitchen. I like to see what's going on and what it looks like. Shiny stainless, employees with clean uniforms, nothing on counters that shouldn't be there. Check. Looking good.
You may have noticed the screen to the right of the manager in the previous picture. That is a Kitchen Display Screen. It's more than just a representation of a ticket, it's information. From glancing at the screen you can tell how long any ticket has been in the kitchen, which prep area is finished with a given ticket (or not,) how many orders aren't currently showing on the screen yet, and which orders are done and waiting to be delivered to guests. The oldest done ticket is always in the upper left-hand corner with a blinking border so it's always the first one to go out and you don't mix up peoples' orders.
It can also show trainees how to assemble a certain dish, handle prep work, show nutritional info/ingredients, or display training videos. Cool stuff.

Bolt Burgers lets you order your way not only with regards to food, but in the way you actually get your order into the kitchen. 
You can walk in, get your table number, and walk up to one of the kiosks placed around the restaurant and order yourself. Once you've gone through it once, you may decide to stick with that route as it's easy and if you mess up your order you only have yourself to blame!
 You can go to the walk-up counter and order from a person. This might not be a bad idea the first go-round as they've got some specialty burgers you might want to know about. I had one and it was pretty darned tasty.
 This is the Mr. Truffleupagus. As my frequent readers know, I'm a fool for truffles, so I had to give it a shot. It comes with truffled Pecorino cheese and sauteed mushroom. Nicely done. Good beef and a very nice bun too. It was cooked to a perfect medium. I'm sure they'd custom cook one for you if you ask.
These are cute, aye? The fries/rings come in a mini-fry basket. They were good too! I tried a little of each of the custom spice mixes and I particularly like the curry and the chili-cumin. 

Below is a video of the final piece of tech that rounds out the in-store ordering options, and that is the MICROS mTablet. It can be programmed for servers in a table-service restaurant or used as a terminal on the counter and can be wired or wireless. Take a look at the video:

After you input the order and swipe your card, a receipt prints out at the host stand and they bring you a copy and collect the mTablet. Very slick.

The final option for ordering is web, which is coming soon. You'll be able to order from your phone, desktop, iPad, iPod Touch, Tablet, however you interact with the web.

These guys/gals involved have put a lot of thought into what they're doing and it shows. I'd expect to see more of these rolling out in the near future. If you stop in, tell them where you read about it.
If you've got questions about the technology, feel free to drop me a line.
Thanks for reading.

Bolt Burgers on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bisnow's 3rd Annual DC Restaurant Development Summit

Bisnow's 3rd Annual DC Restaurant Development Summit
The Boilermaker Shops
300 Tingey St. S.E.
Washington, DC
Occasionally I get to attend some fun business events as part of my job....and my hobby.
This was one of the better ones I've been to. Bisnow is a leading virtual publication for business to business activity and they have an entire section devoted to restaurants. My favorite subject! As you go through the post you'll notice that some of the restaurant names are hyperlinked - if you click it will take you to the review I wrote on that particular restaurant.
Michael Babin, Owner of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, presented opening remarks. He has created quite an empire in the DC Metro which now includes 14 venues, some one-offs and some with multiple outlets such as Rustico, the brewery downstairs from this venue - Blue Jacket, Evening Star, Vermillion, Church Key, Birch & Barley, Buzz Bakery, Tallula, Red Apron Butcher, and the newest, which opened softly today, Iron Gate.
The first panel consisted of the President of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Kathy Hollinger. Seated to her right were some of the folks involved in various regulatory boards including the Alcoholic Beverage Administration and others.
This panel started to swing the fun needle to the right. From left to right we had Michael Faerber of McMillan Metro, Alex Hurtado of Collective Architecture, Jason Wilt of Winmar, Ramsey Meiser of Forest City Washington, and Ty Neal of Matchbox. I've worked with Alex, Jason and Ty on various projects over the years and they are all consummate professionals.  I know I can count on things being done when I walk into a deal and see Alex or Jason there.
Ty is one of the founders of Matchbox Food Group. They are one of the most successful local chains in the area. Their restaurants include Matchbox, Ted's Bulletin, and DC3. They have nine locations currently with more on the way.
The next group consisted of more restaurant people. This was my entertainment for the evening. Above is Chef Geoff Tracy on the left and Mike Isabella on the right. Geoff has Chef Geoff's and Lia's restaurants and Mike owns Graffiato and Kapnos &G. 
The ever-lovely Hilda Staples. She is a partner in the Volt Restaurant Group which includes several locations in Frederick and one in DC. The Frederick locations include Volt, Family Meal, and lunchbox. She recently opened Range in DC, all with partner Bryan Voltaggio. She helped get Graffiato off the ground as well.
Left to right, Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery, Bearnaise, and We The Pizza, Bill Lukashok of Hill Country, Hilda Staples, Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge which owns Rasika, 701, Bombay Club, The Oval Room, Bibiana, Ardeo+Bardeo, and Rasika West End, Chef Geoff, and Mike Isabella.
I don't want to brag, but 5 out 6 panelists above agree - I'm an OK sales person.
Quote of the event: Ty Neal said, "So far, all the risks have been worth it." when discussing the risks/rewards of opening multiple concepts in the DC metro area in some less than optimal areas.
Topics covered by the group included everything from how they got started in the industry to the effects of new restaurants coming in from out of town and not understanding the fact that the city doesn't have the population density that the out-of-towners are used to. 

I did not stay for the happy hour afterwards as I was really looking forward to the 2-1/2 hours I was going to spend sitting in traffic travelling the 15 miles back to my house...however, I'm sure the food provided by Blue Jacket was wonderful.

Thank you to Bisnow for putting the event together and to all of my customers who participated. A special thank you goes to Jason Wilt of Winmar for the shout-out where he reminded people to budget for their MICROS systems when they're opening a new place.

See you all soon.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

G and M Seafood: Serious cakes of all varieties

G & M Seafood
804 Hammonds Ferry Rd.
Linthicum Heights, MD 
 Their URL says it all.
 I've never eaten anything else at this restaurant, though I'm sure they do other items well.
This restaurant is on an intersection kind of in the sticks, but very close to BWI and major highways. It's worth sticking into your GPS one of these days if you haven't been there yet.
 When they say they're jumbo lump, they're jumbo lump. There's more filler than is necessary to hold it together, but you certainly get your fill of crab.
 Alex loved the eclair. It thought it was pretty good.
 The cannoli was ok, but the shell was a bit soggy and the filling was too thick for me. Then again, I'm kind of spoiled that way.
 They do all of their own baking on premise and have some great looking cakes.
They do some serious carryout in the retail outlet on premise. Lots of technology in this joint.
Here's my first video blog post too! Just wanted to shake things ups a little and try something new. Speaking of new, all of the pictures on this post were taken with my iPhone5. It wasn't a deliberate thing, I just went out with Alex to do some shopping and forgot my camera. Let me know what you think.

As far as the restaurant goes, G&M is worth a drive. They've cleaned the place up and it looks pretty good. 
If you go, tell 'em where you read about it.
G&M Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon