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robertogreco : jayporter   4

Salsipuedes
"We like to cook simple, delicious food that speaks of the place we’re at.  And to have a good time with our friends and neighbors.

Since 2005, I’ve been peddling localist, hand-made cuisine in Southern California, at the Linkery and El Take It Easy. Now my wife Katie and I have said good-bye to all that and moved to Oakland, excited to work with the best products, and in the best food culture, in the country. We hope you enjoy our cooking and our hospitality.

Our restaurant location is in the Longfellow neighborhood of North Oakland, walking distance to MacArthur BART, and a short bike ride from much of Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. We are early in the buildout process so our timeline is uncertain, but at this point we project opening in the latter part of 2014.

You can follow along with our progress here on this website, on my personal blog, and through my email newsletter, in which I write about this project and other things that might interest folks. To sign up for that newsletter, click on the little plus sign in the upper right corner of this page.

- Jay Porter"
jayporter  oakland  restaurants  food 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Manso: Jay Porter Interview #3, Part 2
[Also available here: http://jayporter.com/dispatches/san-diego-exit-interview-part-2/ ]

"I talk to people about this a lot. Because of the interviews we’ve done in the past, I know about the business, and I’m a Linkery booster. People tell me, “I really like the idea of the Linkery.” I say, “yeah, it’s an awesome idea.” But they say “I like the idea of the Linkery more than I like the Linkery itself.” And because it was a huge idea that existed in a very robust way, virtually, people could experience it without ever going there.

It was principally an idea. It was an Internet-operated idea. The thing was real, it was real people and real products, but the operations were very much facilitated by the Internet. Our fundamental marketing plan was to do remarkable things and share them in this very transparent way through a blog and by talking honestly about what we were doing. Which in 2005 was a radical idea for a restaurant.

The idea that you could start a blog and newsletter and get people into your local restaurant by saying, hey we got this one pig from this farm, and here’s what we’re doing in the kitchen today, and here’s who we want to win the soccer match…it all feels like Portlandia now, but in 2005 even Portland wasn’t doing it!

My background was, I had really followed where “Web 2.0” companies were going, and how they were communicating with their audiences, and how they were transforming the relationship between companies and their customers. And the Open Source movement really came together at that time. The essay The Cathedral and The Bazaar was such an influential thing for me, I think I read that right before we started the restaurant.

I read that. We probably read it at the exact same time.

Open Source was really catching fire. I was using all the Gnu tools because I was a geek. But it wasn’t long until, for example, my Mom knew what Linux was. Open Source was exploding. It informed so much of how I conceived of the business.

Even when, say, Michael came on as GM, or our chefs would start with us, that was just part of working for our business: We’re super transparent. We blog about things. We take pictures of things. Communication is an essential part of our jobs. We’re building enthusiasm for this kind of food. And then there was the part where we were finding farmers on the Internet, and saying, hey, we think you’re selling what we want to buy, or we think that you might be able to grow what we want to buy. And that was all very tech-driven.

But I think that, as with a lot of these kinds of projects, we also discovered the limits of this approach. Which was, it became too easy to consume the Linkery without actually experiencing the Linkery.

That’s also where I lost interest with a lot of the infrastructure of reviews and critics – I personally like the critics in town, but the infrastructure, including Yelp or whatever, is set up to treat what the restaurant does only as content to be reviewed, in order to generate more content.

Our online presence became its own, free, content that we were delivering to people who then added their own content around it, and then they sold it one way or another, without anybody ever just fucking eating a hot dog. And in the end, the guy who makes the hot dogs has to get fucking paid, no matter how many Yelp reviews get written, or how many articles get written about my blog post or whatever.

Now, the opportunity to build a new business from scratch is a great opportunity, and what’s become clear as we put the new place together is this: as a restaurant operator, I am not in the business of content. I’m not in the business of making things for people to write about. I’m in the business of creating fantastic experiences around local food. And, those experiences are really hard to have on the Internet. You gotta show up for that shit.

So we’re intentionally building our new restaurant to not have a strong online component, or a content-generation component.

But hey, if you want to pay me to write something for you, I’m happy to do that.

If you’re getting paid to write something, then that’s what you’re selling.

There’s a great quote from when Alec Baldwin had Seinfield on his podcast. Alec Baldwin says, “you could have your entire channel. Your own production company, you produce all your own shows, and you could be raking it in, because, it’s all produced by Jerry Seinfeld.” And Seinfeld says, “you could not even sell me that. You know why I wouldn’t do that.”

Baldwin says – I think in legitimate confusion – “I don’t understand.” And Seinfeld says, “because that’s not the thing. I want to connect with my audience. I want to write. That’s the thing.” And then he used this great metaphor, he says, “if you want to experience the ocean, do you want to be on a surfboard or do you want to be on a yacht? I want to be on a surfboard. People have a yacht so they can say, hey, look at my yacht.”

You realize the thing that you’re trying to do and the thing that you’re building have nothing to do with each other.

Yeah, I really misjudged. It started out as a really great way to distinguish ourselves as being different from other restaurants and to communicate what we were really about. It was highly effective for that. But in the end it became its own thing with its own overhead. I stopped feeding that beast a year or two before we sold the restaurant, I really just put up pictures at that point.

Which I think is an amazing thing about technology now. Instagram really is all you need. You can be like, “here, we made something awesome.” It takes you three seconds.

And now, the contextual cues make it clear what you’re about. In 2006, we had to really explain, here is what we believe, this is why we do this, this is who we’re buying from. But now, people understand a restaurant that blogs its ingredients and dishes. You could start a restaurant called “A Blog of Ingredients and Dishes” and people would know exactly what kind of food you serve.

Naming what farms you’re sourcing from and all that. People get it.

Yeah, it’s cool, I don’t want to eat differently than that. But there’s not much needed in terms of explaining what it’s all about. A Tumblr will do the trick fine.

You don’t need to host your own Wordpress blog anymore.

Do you know who Austin Kleon is? He’s really popular on Tumblr. He wrote a book called “Steal Like An Artist”.

I’ve seen that book.

He has a new book coming out called “Show Your Work.” Which I haven’t read obviously because it’s not out yet. But I’m already taking issue with it. Show your work, yes, because there’s real value in that, but that’s also work. To show your work, is also more work that isn’t your work. If you’re not getting paid for it, and if it’s distracting from what you’re actually trying to do, then don’t.

I just think a big thing right now is that, the Internet, and everyone who sits at work googling shit, and reads Facebook and their RSS reader – and I’m part of that Borg – it just creates such a demand for content that nobody’s ever satisfied. You’re not giving them enough free content.

This was a discussion that we’d have sometimes with people who wanted to review us, or write about us, or with Yelp or whoever. I’d say, you know, I don’t really care. I’m not in the business of giving you something to write about.

Look, a restaurant lives in an ecosystem of reviewers and there’s a give-and-take. It’s an environment, and you work with the restaurant media to make sure that they have enough content to keep interest in restaurants alive, and to keep their jobs going. And they in turn are respectful of the realities of restaurants, they don’t run hatchet pieces all the time. Those are the professionals, the professional restauranteurs and the professional writers, and they understand that this is how this thing works. There is a demand for written content and restaurant experiences, and together the restaurant media and the restaurants can create a really positive environment around it. The core professionals understand this.

But in a slightly more outer circle, there may be some slightly less sophisticated people, maybe they are working in the media – whether it’s print or small blogs or whatever – and some of those people really just look at the restaurants as ways of generating content. And when this happens, I’m kind of like, dude, not only do I not really want to help you with this, I don’t want you in my place. You’re not helping this guy, who’s sitting next to you at the bar, who just had a shitty day at work and he came to his favorite local place to be around friends and enjoy some food that he really likes – you’re not helping him have a better time. You’re not helping my employees do their jobs better or make a better living. You’re just kind of in here, trying to improve your own career on top of something that has nothing to do with you and that’s – that makes you kind of a dick.

Because he’ll be trying to create something, “there’s a narrative here”, and maybe there is, but it’s probably not what he’s going to write about…

There actually is a really interesting parallel with what I’ve been reading a lot lately, this kind of “new generation” of highly intelligent sportswriting. Writers like Spencer Hall of SBNation, David J Roth who started a magazine called the Classical…

I don’t know shit about sports, so –

Well, sports is just a way that society expresses itself. A lot of these writers see within sports how society is expressing itself and they write about that.

It’s a vessel to describe society.

So a topic that’s come up with some of these more interesting sportswriters is how sports now serves this purpose, for shitty media outlets to read narrative into everything. Today, nobody just scores a touchdown, instead the touchdown marks a point in … [more]
jedsundwall  jayporter  meta  metadata  making  doing  internet  content  sports  journalism  criticism  2014  interviews  narrative  storytelling  instagram  twitter  data  documentation  thelinkery  restaurants  process  austinkleon  alecbaldwin  howweowork  food  opensource  workinginpublic  nassimtaleb  privilege  luck  business  success  blackswans  emergence  jamesfowler  sethgodin  kurtvonnegut  vonnegut 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Manso: Jay Porter Interview #3, Part 1
[Follow-up: http://manso.jed.co/post/75926441677/why-i-keep-interviewing-jay-porter
Commented on VoSD (crosspost) and Twitter too (no link): http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/02/06/i-just-wasnt-that-stoked-on-where-the-citys-going/ ]

[Also available here: http://jayporter.com/dispatches/san-diego-exit-interview-part-1/ ]

"For me, when I was working in tech, it was an easy decision to come here. I remember specifically turning down a job in Alameda that paid a little more than I’d get paid in San Diego and probably offered better career advancement too.

But it was really easy because you could get so much more for your dollar in San Diego than you could in Alameda in ’99. There seemed to be a lot of potential here. The tech industry was really thriving in San Diego.

I left that industry in 2005, so I don’t know it as well as I used to, but I get the sense that the industry is not thriving the way it was. And I also clearly see now that you get so much less for your money here than you do in Oakland or even San Francisco (with the caveat that you get less housing for your dollar in San Francisco). But you get so much more for your money in every other aspect of your life in Oakland and San Francisco.

The sun tax has gotten pretty steep. Over the past 15 years, the relative cost of living in San Diego has gone way up compared to competitive towns, but without keeping up with infrastructure. Over that same period of time, how many miles of bike lanes have been created in any comparable city, whether it’s San Francisco, Austin, New York, Portland, Seattle or wherever? Many more than have been created here.

It’s hard to say what the impact of the brain drain really is because we don’t have the data to show it. We can only estimate it based on what we’ve seen anecdotally.

What we could see at the Linkery was people arriving from Place X and then leaving to Place Y. We didn’t necessarily see an increase in people leaving town, but we definitely saw a decline in people coming here and moving to North Park, Golden Hill, and the areas that had been previously attracting talented people in their mid-20s. We just stopped meeting them.

Part of that might be due to the fact that I got older and married and stopped going to bars, so I stopped meeting those people. But I definitely got the sense, particularly around 2010 or 2011, that we were getting a much smaller influx of people into the city who worked in the knowledge economy.

Then you see Ted and Erin leave, and then Andy and Flo leave, and then the dominoes start falling. You suddenly realize that you know more people in San Francisco than you do around San Diego.

At that point, not only does the Bay Area offer a better quality of life, but a great social network too. Add to that the fact that there’s a bigger market for the specific business that I want to be in, and for what Katie wants to be in. Not only a bigger market, but a growing market. It all comes together and the decision is clear.

It’s been a year since we made that decision, and at this point, we feel much more strongly that we made the right choice. Our quality of life is better and we haven’t opened the business yet, but all indications are that it’s really well situated.

Both the city of Oakland and the city of San Francisco have been really active in helping us find a great location and open up. The kind of outreach to small business people is not something that I saw from the city of San Diego.

Although the people we dealt with in the city of San Diego were always very polite, they weren’t very forthcoming. We got business outreach from North Park main street, which was fantastic, but we didn’t get much from the city level.

It’s been really neat up there to see that the city wants us to be successful. There are a lot of great things to say so far. We’ll see what I say in 10 years from now, but I’m pretty stoked right now."
jedsundwall  jayporter  linkery  sandiego  food  bayarea  oakland  sanfrancisco  2014  business  community  money  braindrain  infrastructure  bikes  biking 
february 2014 by robertogreco
El Take me to El Take it Easy! - Urbanist Blog
"Jay Porter is about to open his new, adventurous "gastro-cantina" just 2 blocks north of his current spot, The Linkery. El Take it Easy showcases two of the same attributes that have made The Linkery such a hit: 1. Ethical Food. 2. Keeping it Weird.

1. Farm to Table. Local. Small Farms. Organic. Craft Beer and Wine. Mindful food and drink. Ethical. The Linkery has been the undisputed leader of this movement in San Diego...

2. "I feel like chicken heads tonight. Naw babe, we had heads on Tuesday. I'm craving spleen & maybe some beef cheek." The dinner conversation does not sound like this at my house.
But the "Keep it Weird" philosophy works. Modern folks get bored. El Take it Easy satisfies the curious, youthful adventurer within us all. Sure you can dine here and enjoy familiar fare like Chicken Mole (the best I've ever had) or Fried Grouper (nice & light), but you can also try the Kentucky Fried Buches (chicken neck) & have a story to tell at the office tomorrow."

[see also: http://www.eltakeiteasy.com/ ]
food  restaurants  northpark  sandiego  jayporter  mexican 
june 2010 by robertogreco

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