Published on: September 6, 2016
This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either ... they are similar, but not exactly the same. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.
Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is a special Monday FaceTime with the Content Guy ... coming to you from Smorgasburg, which is this wonderful food festival that takes place every Saturday In the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, right on the banks of the East River, where one can see the magnificent Manhattan skyline less than a mile away.
Smorgasburg actually has three Brooklyn homes - East River State Park on Saturdays, Prospect Park on Sundays, and then a central indoor location where the two come together from November until April 1. But the geography is less important than the amazing taste sensations and aromas that emanate from Smorgasburg, which taps into something very important when it comes to food innovation.
The goal of Smorgasburg is to bring together dozens of food vendors - mostly start-ups, though some do have locations elsewhere - and allow them to cook and serve some amazing foods that one might not be able to find elsewhere. I drove out on a hot Saturday morning while I was on vacation, and enjoyed some extraordinary dishes. Like, a Ramen burger in which the burger roll actually is made from fried ramen noodles. And mozzarella sticks that were the size of small logs, and amazingly tangy. And the best spring rolls I've ever tasted. And a Venetian sandwich made with steamed tuna, delicious pearl onions, and steamed bread the likes of which I've never had before. And an Indian taco made with paratha flatbread and this unbelievable pork belly.
Plus, there's a beer garden ... need I say more?
This only is a small sampling of what they had to offer - the only problem is that by the time I tasted this stuff, I was totally full ... I'm simply going to have to go back to Brooklyn for another round of tastings.
I've provided some pictures of Smorgasburg, and along with the video, it'll give you a sense of how busy it is. And if you still have any questions let me give you a number - 10,000, which is the number of people who can visit it on any given Saturday or Sunday.
In thinking about all these taste sensations that I'd never experienced before, I found myself thinking about how competition often plays out in the more mainstream food retailing sector - companies often will fight on price even if they have no legitimate hope of winning that battle, or they'll kid themselves that location or some notion of being the hometown grocer will be the winning formula, even if that idea seems less workable with every passing day.
We talk about competition a lot here on MNB, and while eating wonderful new foods at Smorgasburg, I found myself considering the possibility of a new way to compete. Since it always has been my bias that food companies ought to compete with their food (a radical notion, I know), wouldn't it be interesting for a retailer to say that once a month, or better yet, once a week, it would come up with some food item that nobody in the market has ever tasted or heard of before, and then they'd market the hell out of it. Instead of trying to make a difference with products that everybody else is selling, they'd focus on the totally unusual - it could be an enormous and enduring differential advantage if done right, done consistently, and done with a real commitment to great food.
Sounds like a pretty good - and potentially Eye-Opening - idea to me.
That's what is on my mind this Tuesday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: