Many of the people behind the creation of the New York Wine and Culinary Center are some of the region’s smartest people.
They include Danny Wegman and Robert Sands, who head two of the most dynamic names in their respective businesses. For Wegman, it’s food, and for Sands, wine, beer and spirits. Both lead companies that consistently evaluate their business models to adapt to changing tastes.
And they’re doing it with success.
That’s why it’s no surprise that 12 years after it opened as part of an effort to promote the state’s impressive wine and agricultural industries that wine and culinary center leaders decided it was time for a reboot.
The center announced a rebranding effort that includes a new name — New York Kitchen — to reflect a more accessible, friendly place where people can take in cooking demonstrations, sample beverages and dine in a casual atmosphere.
The move also acknowledges a sea change in the beverage scene.
While wine still rules in New York, where there are 435 wineries, the gap is closing. Fast.
According to Empire State Development, there are now 400 breweries in New York, along with 150 distilleries and 65 cideries.
The wine and culinary center on South Main Street in Canandaigua has acknowledged the growth of the industry over the years through its beverage offerings and programs, but its leaders may also have recognized that the word “wine” in the title isn’t exactly so welcoming for those who prefer suds or spirits. And there’s a lot of them out there.
So why not build a bigger tent?
With that, some changes in the menu at the restaurant that include some new fare and lower prices so that a trip to New York Kitchen isn’t just for a special occasion.
The focus is still on New York products to emphasize the farm-to-table trend that so many diners are seeking these days.
As part of the effort to highlight New York’s craft beer growth and its emphasis on casual: the inaugural New York Kitchen Craft Brew and Barbecue Festival. Set for June 25, it features beer, barbecue and live music.
The more relaxed approach and wider beverage emphasis makes sense, said Valerie Knoblauch. After all, she explained, this is casual country.
That more relaxed approach is what Sands, who at the press conference in April, sported a suit and dress shirt, but no tie, wants for New York Kitchen.
The kitchen, as Sands noted, is the place where people gather, laugh, cook and eat.
That’s the atmosphere they want to create in the wine and culinary center’s new incarnation as New York Kitchen.
We think they’re on the right track.