CQ Field Study: Travail Kitchen and Amusements

Beehive values curiosity. It is how we find fresh insights and make meaningful connections between what’s happening in the world around us and the work we do every day. To foster our curiosity, we regularly conduct CQ Field Studies – the CQ stands for Curiosity Quotient. A member of the Beehive team receives $150 to go experience something that intrigues or inspires them, and then reports back on what they learned.

 

I had heard about Travail Kitchen and Amusements from friends and family who were raving—short of breath, eyes wide, raving about this restaurant. I knew I had to see for myself why so many people had this over-the-top reaction.

 

What’s your “CQ”? In other words, what were you curious to explore?

How does Travail Kitchen & Amusements, a restaurant that doesn’t advertise—doesn’t provide guests menu options—with a Robbinsdale location—consistently sell out seats and remain one of the Twin Cities’ most talked about spots?

 

Describe the experience you selected.

From the beginning, the experience harnessed anticipation. A straight-forward email receipt provided no information about the menu or what to expect. Instead, it provided a receipt for $75 per ticket and very strict instructions for arriving on time for the “show.” The lack of information paired with strict instructions only built anticipation around the message: this is something you don’t want to miss.

 

The restaurant is located behind a strip mall and shares building space with Pawn America—which makes the concept all the more intriguing. The inside reveals an open kitchen and large tables where guests are seated together. A playlist featuring anything from the Stones to the Spice Girls plays in the background.

 

The seating began, and the plates we were served slightly resembled food and more closely resembled art. Unexpected combinations—like potato crème fraiche and ice box pickles, or desserts freshly dipped in CO2—ensured patrons were never bored. Especially considering there were 25 courses.

 

Guests should also expect to actively participate in a few of the courses, whether that means eating a piece of cured meat dangled over them from a hook, passing a Das Boot or having a course built on their hand. And the chefs are as much the stars as the food; they’re singing, talking with the guests and making sure everyone is having a good time.

 

Overall, the hype is real. Incredibly talented chefs, an energizing atmosphere, courses that actively involve the guests—there’s nothing else like it.

 

How might your experience translate into how we work with clients (this industry or others)?

  1. Break the mold. It’s hard to compare this to other restaurants because it is so incredibly new and different from a typical restaurant experience. Give people an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and give them the opportunity to go outside of their comfort zone.

 

  1. Word of mouth > advertising. Consistently seeing a convincing ad is one thing; reading pages of four paragraph Yelp! reviews and hearing people rave about their experience—quite another thing. Powerful reinforcer that experience is king and word-of-mouth is the best advertising out there.

 

  1. Thoughtful, well-executed does not have to equal buttoned up and pretentious. A friendly, t-shirt-wearing chef delivering should-be-in-a-museum cuisine made something potentially unapproachable suddenly accessible and exciting. An incredibly well-planned and curated offering—that also invites immediate connection without intimidation—does equal an unforgettable experience. The product should be immaculate; the human connection should be just that: human.