The Tennessean: Kristin Beringson blends Southern, Greek at City Winery

beringsonChef Kristin Beringson has been busy to say the least, having recently filmed an episode of “Chopped” and left Holland House to lead the kitchen at the new City Winery Nashville. We caught up with Beringson about her new gig.

Why did you decide to make the switch from Holland House to City Winery? I had been at Holland House for three and a half years. I felt I had grown all I could grow as a chef under that roof. The opportunity arose, and I really thought it would be a good chance to try new things. It was a 360 — a music venue, all this private event space, I could grow in a different way.

What was your goal for the menu? It’s very much foods that pair well with wines. It has a lot of Mediterranean influence, so French, Spanish, Italian, a little bit of Middle Eastern and especially Greek. I was born in Greece, so there’s a little Greek influence in everything I do. At Holland House, I kept it more contemporary American, Southern cuisine. Here it’s more Mediterranean flavors with a little bit of Southern flair. Like I have risotto balls, but instead of being stuffed with traditional flavors, it’s stuffed with pimiento cheese and short ribs.

How did you learn to cook? I didn’t start cooking until maybe five years ago. Cooking has always been something I loved. I was managing Target stores for years. I said, “I’m ready to be happy.” I enrolled in culinary school the next day.

What is your favorite dish off the menu? I’ve got my take on French onion soup, but it’s called Nash Onion Soup. It’s got smoked bone marrow and Kenny’s (Farmhouse) horseradish cheddar with house-made sourdough.

We have over 400 (wine) bottles and we do our own wines, but, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make it on site yet. In the beginning of the year, when Tennessee law changes, we’ll be crushing grapes and barreling and aging on site. It will be a full service winery.

Describe your most memorable food moment. Recently one of my most memorable dining experiences I was up in New York City and I ate at Gramercy Tavern and got to meet chef Michael Anthony. I had the chance to see the kitchen. We ate 11 courses. The service and hospitality was completely beautiful and wonderful.

I filmed an episode for “Chopped” there. It’s airing soon. It’s called “Frankly Frantic.” It was crazy, but it was worth it.

What is your favorite tool and ingredient at the moment? Favorite ingredient is easy — it’s honey. I put local honey in just about everything I make. I think every dish needs a perfect bit of sweetness. And honey is so much better than sugar on so many levels. Tool: I have this one little knife I’ve had forever. I call it Woody. If I lose it, I lose my mind.

For the full Tennessean article, click here.

Vintage venue strikes the right note – Crain’s New York Business

Baby boomers, quality spirits and performances by veteran musicians provide the winning formula for City Winery.

MichaelDorf.jpg&q=80&MaxW=640&imageversion=widescreen&maxh=360&cci_ts=20141010102459

City Winery CEO Michael Dorf hopes to expand his music-and-Malbecs concept to 30 outlets in the U.S. and abroad.
Photo: Buck Ennis

BY 

Glenn Tilbrook knew what his audience of some 300 baby boomers wanted as he scanned the candlelit room at City Winery.

When the former frontman for the late, great U.K. pop band Squeeze finally delivered his hits “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” and “Tempted” at the end of his 90-minute set, the crowd erupted. This is what they came to hear on a September evening while they sipped expensive wine and swayed in their seats—though Mr. Tilbrook hoped they would also groove to songs from his new solo release, Happy Ending, which he is promoting now.

The confluence of new and nostalgic, pricey yet casual, is the gold mine that six-year-old City Winery has tapped into in Hudson Square. Now City Winery is becoming an international brand, like many of the musical acts it books on a nightly basis. It is on track to double its revenue next year, to $50 million, according to its founder and CEO, Michael Dorf. It expanded to Chicago in 2012, and opened clubs in Napa, Calif., and Nashville, Tenn., this year. Mr. Dorf wants to build an empire of 30 venues in the U.S. and abroad that his wealthy backers liken to the Hard Rock Café and House of Blues—both of which are savvy marketers of merchandise as well.

“The stars have come together very nicely for us,” Mr. Dorf said. “We have gotten the big names that used to fill concert halls and an audience that is looking for culture and a sophisticated environment.”

It is also the only winery and concert venue in the city, and Mr. Dorf wants to grow fast before any competitors “wake up” and copy his business model.
City Winery launched in 2008 as the economy crumbled. Mr. Dorf managed not only to survive, but also to create a new concept around winemaking in New York.

“Michael was almost a one-man show, but he has built an organization of people underneath him, and we have just taken in some new investors to grow this thing,” said Ilan Kaufthal, one of City Winery’s original investors and a former vice chairman of investment banking at Bear Stearns & Co. Mr. Kaufthal is currently chairman of East Wind, a boutique investment bank.

Mr. Dorf, 51, is hardly a novice club owner. In 1986, he founded the original Knitting Factory, a club on East Houston Street, featuring jazz and experimental music that has since moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and opened in several other cities. He’s no longer affiliated with the venue, but it gave him the experience he needed.

At City Winery, he is targeting older and wealthier customers.

“They still like to go to a concert like they used to, but they want to have civilized conversation, and don’t want to get completely wasted and get home at 3 a.m.,” said Steven van der Zwan, a real estate developer who owns residential properties as well as Williamsburg Cinemas, and who was an early investor in City Winery. “These fans still have to get up in the morning and go to work.”

SERVICE STANDARDS

Providing a high level of service is crucial, Mr. Dorf said. As customers arrive for either drinks and dinner or just the music portion of the evening, they are greeted by a delegation of hosts and servers who keep close tabs on their needs.

A huge fan of restaurateur Danny Meyer , Mr. Dorf requires his staff to read Mr. Meyer’s landmark book about the art of hospitality in business, Setting the Table. He also takes his 70-person management team every year to a resort in the Caribbean or elsewhere to develop the corporate culture and share ideas.

“I hate the phrase ‘corporate retreat,’ ” he said. “I call it ‘base camp,’ because when you are mountain-climbing, you create a base camp, where you survey the area you want to climb and conquer.”

One of the summits he’s focused on is the goal of opening up to 20 City Winery outposts in the U.S. within the next five years.

Not just another bar 

His move to Napa in April was a key component to the growth. Because 70% of the wine sold at City Winery venues is made on the premises, it needs huge volumes of grapes and a good relationship with the vineyards that supply it. It has 36 contracts with vineyards—25 in Napa and Sonoma, Calif.—that process more than 100 tons of grapes for City Winery.

“We felt it was a strategic move to have a location in the heart of wine country so we could further our relationships there and get new ones,” Mr. Dorf said.

Without the music, however, City Winery would be just another bar. Access to such performers as Mr. Tilbrook and Steve Forbert, who plays there on Nov. 2, is made easier in large part to the declining fortunes of many musicians who are not making as much income from royalties on their past hits because most consumers are not buying CDs.

Concerts are seen as a steady source of revenue for musicians. Because the vast majority of City Winery’s revenue is derived from selling drinks and food, artists keep about 80% of the money from ticket sales, Mr. Dorf said.

“Our focus is on the culinary side, so we are happy to let the artist fill up the room and make the money,” he added.

For Marc Cohn, who is best known for his Grammy-winning ballad, “Walking in Memphis,” performing at City Winery throughout the year is a no-brainer, as he lives in Manhattan and would rather be close to home with his two children than being on the road.

Still, he concedes that performing live is much more important to an artist than ever before.

“It was hard to sustain a career in the past if you couldn’t deliver live, but that is magnified 100-fold today because no one is really selling any records,” he said, adding, “I’ve played more shows in the last five years than in all of the past 15.”

City Winery represents a new chapter in the music scene as landmark clubs, like the Bottom Line, which attracted such legends as Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt and the Police, shutter.

“When the Bottom Line closed, it was a great loss,” Mr. Cohn said. Still, he pointed out, “City Winery is the only venue in the city where I don’t want to go home after sound check or performing because I want to stay and eat.”

Read the full article: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20141010/HOSPITALITY_TOURISM/141019993/vintage-venue-strikes-the-right-note

Warm Up with a Glass of Wine and Our Fireplace

restaurant fireplace

As the temperatures drop outside, stay warm inside with a seat by our fireplace and a glass of City Winery North Coast Zin. It pairs perfectly with Chef Kristin’s spice crusted lamb loin. We  lit the restaurant fireplace for the first time today. Come down and warm up with us daily starting at 5pm.

restaurant fireplace 2

City Winery Finds a New Home in Nashville – Billboard.com

michael-dorf-city-winery-2014-billboard-650

By  

 

There’s no shortage of performance venues in Nashville — it is Music City, after all — but Michael Dorf, owner of the just-opened City Winery, says he feels his establishment will offer fans a unique opportunity when watching live entertainment that will keep them coming back for more.

The businessman opened the first City Winery in New York. The original location allowed him to pair a winery with a music venue and see how the two could smash up in a city like New York. “I had been putting on shows for a long time and have been on tour with a number of bands,” he said. “I’ve done that for about 30 years. There was a need and an obvious opportunity for a higher-end concert experience that combined the elements of a seated environment with food and beverages into the overall experience. People are looking for more than French fries and beer. People care where their food comes from.”

Since then, Dorf has opened two other locations, in Chicago and Napa Valley. What led him to Nashville? “We were looking at where we really wanted to start to grow and show off the model, and there were a host of them. Nashville has so many great ingredients that it was a no-brainer. Between the convention center and what is going on from a real estate perspective, it just made sense. Obviously, the music industry is very well entrenched in Nashville and has been for a long time. But there was a missing piece between the Ryman and the smaller tourist venues on Broadway. There are some great venues like Franklin Theater and 3rd and Lindsley, but no one was approaching the culinary side the same way we are.”

The menu offers such fare as duck tacos, pan-roasted flatiron and leg of lamb flatbread, while the wine list includes over 400 selections. Musically, the lineup is very diverse, with such performers as Sandra BernhardLucinda WilliamsDr. Ralph StanleyK.T. Oslin and Joan Osborne booked for the fall lineup. Dorf says he wants a visit to City Winery to be one his clientele doesn’t forget.

“We really try to look at the complete experience at City Winery,” he said. “Years ago, we started a policy of having all of our staff read the book Setting the Tableby Danny Meyer, a restaurateur from New York.  It’s a book about enlightened hospitality and that the customer experience starts from the first moment you plan a visit to a venue to the memories that you have after you leave. We pay a lot of attention to the ticketing process — how customers learn about the shows, and even how they pick their seat. We’ve built a proprietary ticketing program that allows the patron to pick the actual seat that they sit in. If you become a VinoFile member, our annual membership program, you get advance notice when we announce the concert. As a member, you don’t have to pay any service charges. We know what it’s like when you want to see a show, and it might cost $25 to $40, and there’s a $9 service fee added on top of that, which can really be frustrating.”

If his past successes are any indication, Dorf is betting that Tennesseans will make City Winery a favorite hotspot in The 615 by simply satisfying the senses. “We believe what you hear, what you smell and taste all come together to enhance the experience. We look at the holistic 360-degree experience that a customer is going to have to make the evening as memorable and special as possible. Time is a precious commodity, and we all have choices as to where we spend that time. We want to make those couple of hours as terrific as possible. It then becomes self-fulfilling. When the artist knows that their fans are enjoying themselves, they put on a better show. I think we’ve built a better mousetrap, and I think people will love it in a town where people love music, wine and food.”

For the full article: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6281532/city-winery-nashville

Billboard: City Winery Finds New Home in Nashville

michael-dorf-city-winery-2014-billboard-650

There’s no shortage of performance venues in Nashville — it is Music City, after all — but Michael Dorf, owner of the just-opened City Winery, says he feels his establishment will offer fans a unique opportunity when watching live entertainment that will keep them coming back for more.

The businessman opened the first City Winery in New York. The original location allowed him to pair a winery with a music venue and see how the two could smash up in a city like New York. “I had been putting on shows for a long time and have been on tour with a number of bands,” he said. “I’ve done that for about 30 years. There was a need and an obvious opportunity for a higher-end concert experience that combined the elements of a seated environment with food and beverages into the overall experience. People are looking for more than French fries and beer. People care where their food comes from.”

Since then, Dorf has opened two other locations, in Chicago and Napa Valley. What led him to Nashville? “We were looking at where we really wanted to start to grow and show off the model, and there were a host of them. Nashville has so many great ingredients that it was a no-brainer. Between the convention center and what is going on from a real estate perspective, it just made sense. Obviously, the music industry is very well entrenched in Nashville and has been for a long time. But there was a missing piece between the Ryman and the smaller tourist venues on Broadway. There are some great venues like Franklin Theater and 3rd and Lindsley, but no one was approaching the culinary side the same way we are.”

The menu offers such fare as duck tacos, pan-roasted flatiron and leg of lamb flatbread, while the wine list includes over 400 selections. Musically, the lineup is very diverse, with such performers as Sandra Bernhard, Lucinda Williams, Dr. Ralph Stanley, K.T. Oslin and Joan Osborne booked for the fall lineup. Dorf says he wants a visit to City Winery to be one his clientele doesn’t forget.

“We really try to look at the complete experience at City Winery,” he said. “Years ago, we started a policy of having all of our staff read the book Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, a restaurateur from New York.  It’s a book about enlightened hospitality and that the customer experience starts from the first moment you plan a visit to a venue to the memories that you have after you leave. We pay a lot of attention to the ticketing process — how customers learn about the shows, and even how they pick their seat. We’ve built a proprietary ticketing program that allows the patron to pick the actual seat that they sit in. If you become a VinoFile member, our annual membership program, you get advance notice when we announce the concert. As a member, you don’t have to pay any service charges. We know what it’s like when you want to see a show, and it might cost $25 to $40, and there’s a $9 service fee added on top of that, which can really be frustrating.”

If his past successes are any indication, Dorf is betting that Tennesseans will make City Winery a favorite hotspot in The 615 by simply satisfying the senses. “We believe what you hear, what you smell and taste all come together to enhance the experience. We look at the holistic 360-degree experience that a customer is going to have to make the evening as memorable and special as possible. Time is a precious commodity, and we all have choices as to where we spend that time. We want to make those couple of hours as terrific as possible. It then becomes self-fulfilling. When the artist knows that their fans are enjoying themselves, they put on a better show. I think we’ve built a better mousetrap, and I think people will love it in a town where people love music, wine and food.”

 

For the full Billboard article, click here.

New things happening @ City Winery Every Weekend

dinner_show_series_460x345

 

Ready to start the weekend out right? Well City Winery has just added Live Music with Dinner every Friday and Saturday night. Wesla Whitfield featuring Mike Greensill and Mads Tolling will rotate performances, so don’t miss your chance to enjoy the best FREE music the Napa Valley has to offer while sampling City Wineries NEW Fall Harvest Menu, or one of our over 30 wines on tap.

Also new for Weekends at City Winery Napa is our Brunch Menu being served every Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM. Local Napa residents get 25% off. Also a great place to enjoy our Bloody Mary.