The Supersonic's 3 Favorite Stories of 2022
Close out the year with our three favorite posts, and listen to a banging playlist from New York's most anticipated new restaurant...
So here we are, at the tail end of the penultimate week of 2022, a year of turmoil and uncert—eh, we’ll spare you the sweeping observations about nothing. You lived it. One industry, however, did outperform expectations: restaurants. Yes, kitchens and dining rooms both continue to be understaffed, in many cases operating hours remain shortened, and the future of things like outdoor dining are unclear. But the Blackbird team was out and about this fall in places across the country and everywhere we saw throngs of people. Dining rooms are abuzz, bars are packed, energy abounds. Good luck getting a reservation anywhere, anytime, for anything. According to an OpenTable data set, the last three months have seen seated diners across the U.S. hit 96 percent of 2019 levels over the same time period.
Plenty of big swing openings happened in 2022, too, which is a great sign. From Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Tin Building to the rebirth of Torrisi to Jupiter, Naro, and Le Rock in Rockefeller Center, New York found its mojo again. In LA, among others, the much-anticipated outpost Pizzeria Bianco opened to insane crowds, as did Evan Funke’s Mother Wolf, and Yangban Society, the media darling downtown Korean-American restaurant, deli, and merch bodega. Two San Francisco big dogs, Bar Agricole and Liholiho Yacht Club both triumphantly reopened after long hiatuses. Boka Group Boka’d with Alla Vita in Chicago. The list goes on. (If you had a favorite new restaurant in 2022, drop it in the comments!)
While there are still many challenges to overcome and big existential questions loom for both operators and patrons of restaurants — they always do — at least 2022 seems to be ending on a high note. And speaking of 2022 good guys, here are a few of our favorite stories from the Supersonic so far. Some of you are new subscribers — welcome! — and some of you are loyal readers — thank you!
We’ve got big plans for this publication in the new year, and, to be sure, our musings on the intersection of hospitality, web3, and real-life will resume apace in January. Next week, we will reward those who are actually checking email with a bonus episode. But, from our growing team at Blackbird Labs, Happy Holidays, and cheers.
The Sneaky Hack to Discover Your Next Favorite Restaurant
During a team lunch at Tacombi this fall, we were struck by the music paired with our tacos. Full of tropicala tunes, forgotten AM Gold relics, and other deep cuts, it was a thoughtful, highly-curated playlist (listen to it here) that felt as easy and transportive as the food. Which made us think…a restaurant that puts so much effort into its music probably sweats every detail. Meaning, a great and underrated way to discover new restaurants might just be by judging their Spotify playlists. We had several experts in the field weigh in, from the CEO of Creem Magazine to hospitality industry vets, all of whom gave us great playlists and great places to eat.
Need some 🔥 tunes to get you through the last cold weeks of 2022? Check out Torrisi’s banging new playlist on Spotify below…
How Austrian Ski Resorts Nail Decentralization
Who would think that Austrian ski resorts are the perfect analogue analogy for web3 businesses? Turns out they are, because these old school mountains rely on a decentralized business model — from fractional ownership of ski lifts to independent ski schools and on-mountain restaurants — that keep costs low and guest satisfaction high. VC and former ski instructor Daniel Keiper-Knorr takes us through the fascinating economics of ski resorts that were built organically rather than by the drawing board.
Crypto Design is Holding Crypto Back
For a long time the cannabis industry has had a very recognizable stoner aesthetic — crunchy rather than cool. But as the industry continues to legitimize itself, a host of new purveyors have sprung up with a more sophisticated and palpable visual language (more Apple, less Grateful Dead). In other words, weed’s design has become scalable. Blackbird Senior Product Designer Andrew Braswell argues that the same aesthetic evolution needs to happen for web3 brands (ditching the retro futuristic look in favor of something more recognizable) if they hope to scale beyond the crypto community.
Thanks for reading! Blackbird will launch in select restaurants later this year. In the meantime, if you dug this, please give it a like! We’re also on Twitter and would love to hear from you there.