LA Story

The Salt and The Straw in Larchmont Village

The Salt and The Straw in Larchmont Village

Greetings from Los Angeles.
I’m out here with our west coast Tabanero team interviewing agencies for what will become our first major advertising effort in 2017.
It’s the next step in our start up entrepreneurial journey and it’s exciting.
We’ve done billboards, print ads, Amazon promotions, events, samplings, coupons and social media advertising along the way, but the new effort will represent our first large scale–for us anyway –advertising campaign.
It’s exciting and a little scary too. This is our shot and while we’re confident we’ve got a great hot sauce and Bloody Mary mix we are all veterans in business. We know it’s not easy and that there’s no shortcuts. We have great assets: a great tasting premium sauce and some excellent retailers and some challenges too: a crowded category and a need for more brand awareness. We are a challenger brand in a world of Goliaths. But we see that as our advantage because we live in a world where consumers want new and exciting over old and tired.
We’ll keep you posted.
Some impressions about LA: I love it.
Yes, ┬áthere’s traffic and sprawl. Crazy traffic and debilitating sprawl.
But there’s also great weather, very interesting people and this is where you can see the future emerge.
LA and NYC are where trends are birthed and spread.
So when I come here I like to look around. What are the new restaurant concepts? What are the new items on menus? What are the new drink trends?
What’s happening in retail, hotels, fashion and design?
It’s interesting for me to see what’s happening and what people are talking about. Information is currency. And you never know what insight you might glean that can help you in whatever business you’re in.
The same principle applies to cities.
Switched on municipal leaders are always scanning the horizon for ideas that can be customized for their communities.
Whether it’s street furniture or pop up retail, unique crosswalks or parking technology it pays to see what others are doing.
When I venture west I stay in the Hotel Orlando a very comfy boutique hotel.
It’s amazing how boutique and historic hotels and inns have become focal points for cities and neighborhoods.
A few great little hotels mixed in with restaurants, art and event spaces can literally make a place pop.
On this trip I’m anxious to see creative work spaces. One agency we interviewed is housed in an old industrial space that has been converted into one of the nicest offices I have ever seen.
Wide open, with exposed ceilings and fun games and furniture, the space is just inspiring.
I also loved that the office featured a slew of dogs. It was comfortable but productive.
Count me in as someone who would love to work alongside dogs, mine and others.

West Hollywood where I’m anchored is a cool spot.
Since I can never adjust to the time, I find myself up early and able to take walks before a day of meetings.
I stumbled on a neighborhood featuring very old but beautifully designed apartments I later learned were designed by legendary architect Leland Bryant in the 20s and 30s for movie studio personnel.
The craftsmanship, details, bay windows and unique design are stunning. It made me wonder whether these types of artisans exist today or whether developers would even consider these types of details given the high cost of land and the regulatory hurdles we’ve instituted.
Curious I did some light research on Bryant who turned out to be quite the guy. I learned that he built 300 projects in Los Angeles and Hollywood in the time it would take to get one or two projects approved and built today considering rules and politics.
None of his iconic and beautiful projects would meet today’s codes despite their enduring beauty and value. Now that’s food for thought.
I’ve often wondered in our zeal to “control growth” with rigid codes and batty politics whether we are also stifling creativity. While developers and architects bear their fair share of responsibility wouldn’t it be interesting to challenge them to be creative and design something that generations might embrace rather than fight. Heavy sigh.
Leland Bryant would be dead in his tracks today.

Another observation…
As mentioned, California is a great place to search for trends.
Food and restaurants have come a long way in the last decade.
It seems like every industry and option are being disrupted by innovative artisans.
California is teeming with them.
From cold pressed juices and craft burgers to artisanal sandwiches (I kid you not) California has it all.
Sure some ideas are hipster pretentious, but others are just flat out inspiring.
A marketing firm we use out here recommended we visit a small ice cream shop called the Salt & Straw to sample various interesting flavor combinations. We did.
Aside from seasonal offerings like fennel eggnog there were options that included olives and sea salt and goat cheese.
Somehow it works. The ice cream was amazing.
My California colleague, a native Floridian, said the creativity he found in the Golden State keeps him here despite the high cost of living, heavy taxes and traffic.
“California is where the creators come to innovate,” he said. “It’s aspirational. Not every one makes it here. It’s hard and the competition is fierce but it’s where you come if you want to make an impact.” As they say if you want to dance you go where the music is playing.
Can Florida make the same claim?
I have to ponder that one. But if the answer is no it ought to be yes.
The places that empower people and inspire dreams and risk taking are the ones that will thrive.
I found Delray to be highly aspirational when I came here. I think Boca is a city coming into its own these days. As a friend recently told me about Boca: “that city has depth.”
By that he meant assets.
He’s right.
Delray has assets too, but there needs to be greater attention paid to ensure that those assets stay healthy and new assets need to be developed.
More on that when I come home.

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