Behind the Beignets
Our newest restaurant concept took many months and several iterations to get just right, but thanks to our team, vendors, tradespeople, and the magic of simple French cuisine, we’re excited to announce the launch of Tiny Feast.
We took a deep dive with our Neighborhood Goods team to explore what it took to make Tiny Feast a reality. The folks that we talked to represent the spectrum of departments involved in this project: Creative, Store Design, Food and Beverage, and insights from Matt, our Co-founder and CEO, who gave broadstroke direction and vision.
In everything we did, we really wanted to pay homage to the commuter and visitor facets of the Chelsea neighborhood. A mix of the old and the new, the eccentric and the classic, and of course great food that’s within arm's reach. When looking at all of the parties involved in making Tiny Feast possible, the creation of this restaurant seems to boil down to several, smaller stories that make up the big picture. We’ve gathered quotes, behind-the-scenes memorabilia, and a quick history of Tiny Feast to construct the winding evolution of this project.
Follow Tiny Feast on Instagram at @tiny.feast!
“We really had to think about how we could have a full and distinct restaurant, that could have light and feel intimate and cool and interesting in the evening, as much as it would be intuitive for someone queuing in from the market, just popping in to get coffee.”
- Matt, Co-founder and CEO
Before our Chelsea Market location even began its build out, Brooke, our Creative Manager, and Marisa, our Director of Store Design, took a trip to NYC to soak up all of the design elements. Being in a space that was more than 100 years old, they didn’t want this concept to feel like a transplant. The two walked all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, taking pictures of anything that spoke to them. A new restaurant in New York has a lot to live up to while also trying to hold its own.
Marisa, Director of Store Design, waiting for the train, on a Creative and Design exploratory field trip.
“I believe this required a balance of both standing out and blending. Whether it’s setting a stage for product, food or drinks to shine, it's knowing that the environment is going to be constantly evolving as the collective community grows.”
- Marisa, Director of Store Design
The Restaurant Design
The Players: Marisa, Director of Store Design, with Droese Raney Architecture, brought the vision to brick and mortar.
Most of our kitchen is located under our store in Chelsea Market, which was left vacant for at least 24 months before we began our initial build out. Clearing out the leftover machinery took six trips to the repository! After around 1,500 lbs of unusable mixers, shelves, and other objects were removed from the basement, electricians and plumbers went to work repairing pipes and patching up wiring.
Initial renderings of the Tiny Feast space.
Like other Neighborhood Goods design elements, there was a good mix of the old and the new that served as inspiration for our Tiny Feast space. Classic elements such as bubblegum pink trays from Hay and a dumbwaiter are juxtaposed with upbeat illustrations and a laid back menu. The team at Droese Raney Architecture and Marisa worked together to activate the small amount of existing natural light and utilize the compact bar and dining area.
The space itself is quite modular, meaning it was created to exist in several iterations. Using planters as barriers from the rest of the store, Tiny Feast can operate with hours that are independent of the store’s hours. It can open early for morning commuters to grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich and stay open late for people to meet and share a cocktail or two. Right now, though, it will operate in line with our normal store hours, with the planters moved to the side to create a seamless transition from dining to shopping.
Reviewing material samples in the early stages of Tiny Feast before our Chelsea Market build out.
The Players: Tom, Food and Beverage Director, in large part, created Tiny Feast’s menu and tirelessly worked to get this concept up and running and Jeremy, Food and Beverage Manager, moved machinery, helped Tom get our kitchen in working order, and influenced the menu.
Our Food and Beverage Director, Tom, really made the Tiny Feast menu what it is today and focused on our signature beignets. With the help of Jeremy, our (actually) French pastry chef, he created a menu that is approachable and perfect for grab-n-go guests. This included a ham and gruyere cheese baguette sandwiches, different styles of beignets, and a charcuterie board for those wanting to stay a bit and take a break from shopping the vast halls of Chelsea Market. The best part: all of our pastries are made in-house.
“We wanted the menu to stray away from being self-serious and be more playful. There were already good flavor profiles to work with so I just simplified a lot of it and made it much more approachable.”
-Tom, Food and Beverage Director
Imagine biking down Ninth Ave, beret perched on your head, with a baguette tucked under your arm, on your way to recite poetry in Washington Square Park. This is what it feels like to take a bite of a Tiny Feast beignet.
Tiny Feast has three beignet offerings: Classic (topped with confectioners sugar), Cinnamon (topped with granulated sugar and cinnamon), Nutella (filled with Nutella and topped with granulated sugar).
“I have a lot of good memories about beignets: they remind me of summer and vacation, their delicious smell, and as a kid, in France, going to bakeries after school to grab a beignet.”
- Jeremy, Food and Beverage Manager
Tom and Jeremy pulled together local vendors from around New York, like Parlor Coffee, who roast their beans in Brooklyn, and Amy’s Bread (which is also located in Chelsea Market). They didn’t skimp on the brews, either. Tiny Feast is carrying local favorites like Sunday Beer and Grimm Artisanal Ales, both from Williamsburg.
The Players: Brooke, Creative Manager, is the brain behind the restaurant’s branding and collateral, Miekala, Graphic Designer, helped support by pulling inspiration, coordination, and capturing photos for the launch, and Sophie, the freelance illustrator who dreamed up the cute cartoons that go along with the restaurant.
“I pulled most of my inspiration from European cafes and vintage french cinema posters. I also referenced Wes Anderson when it came to typography and quirky verbiage.”
- Brooke, Creative Manager
An obstacle Brooke faced while leading the charge in branding wasn’t just finding a name that succinctly conveyed the purpose of our newest restaurant concept, but also thinking about how the words would look visually. She needed to compare them to our existing branding and envision a logo that could hold its own while still living harmoniously in our ecosystem.
Like everything else, the naming process was a group project and all of our departments threw some names into the hat before Brooke ultimately went with a name that reflects the bite-sized, to-go-ness of the menu while still nodding to the quality and richness of ingredients. Massive research and going back to the drawing table one or two times, we landed on a winner: Tiny Feast.
One could say this project was kind of like a branding jigsaw puzzle, with all of the elements speaking to each other. For example, the cafeteria trays, which dine-in food is served on, are lined with a patterned paper, mimicking the tile used on the bar in the actual restaurant. The trick was to avoid plug-and-play motifs, while coming up with a host of patterns and logo treatments to support the restaurant.
“Brooke and I pulled a lot of inspiration from New York City itself and French cuisine. We knew we wanted to include some hand drawn elements to bring in that quirk element to play off of the name.”
- Miekala, Graphic Designer
Tiny Feast wouldn't be Tiny Feast without the cartoons of a Parisian dog jogging with his beignet friend or a baguette with shoes. Massive credit goes to Sophie, the freelance illustrator who helped bring this concept to life. She created mascots with the nostalgic energy of waking up on a Saturday to watch cartoons and sip chocolate milk. They establish a "when you're here, you're family" kind of vibe, which is the atmosphere we want to foster around Tiny Feast: everyone's welcome. To see the final illustrations, check out Tiny Feast's Instagram.
Fun fact: Sophie and Miekala are sisters, so collaborating on this project was a family affair!
“With the name Tiny Feast, I wanted to play with images that were more simplistic and playful in nature. I thought of the stylization from other playful places: cartoons, books, comics that I really enjoy.”
- Sophie, Freelance Illustrator
While there were a lot of moving parts we needed to corral to get Tiny Feast up and running, something that wasn't initially included in the timeline was opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic. Rolling with this new normal, we've taken every precaution to incorporate social distancing and safety protocols.
Dine-in, takeout, and curbside are available, as well as outdoor seating and social-distanced bar seating. Staff is required to wear masks at all times and wash their hands frequently, as well as participate in contactless temperature checks in the morning. Customers are required to wear protective face coverings, except while seated and dining. Click here if you want to read more about our health and safety guidelines.
With that said, wear a mask, bring your appetite, and come eat with us at Tiny Feast!