By Tom Horgen, Star Tribune
Last update: September 25, 2008 - 5:38 PM
An impressive tequila list draws the crowds at newcomer Barrio
RICK NELSON - Star Tribune 9/11/08
At Barrio, Tim McKee and Josh Thoma are taking the small-plate shtick -- the one they perfected at Solera, their nearby tapas haven -- and putting a Mexican spin on it. Their new and instantly popular Nicollet Mall hot spot is really more of a bar with food than a restaurant with a cocktail list.
Fine by me, especially when the great-looking bar stocks 100-plus tequilas, serving them by the shot, mixed with house-made sodas or as the foundation for a splashy libations roster devised by La Belle Vie mixmeister Johnny Michaels.
The food side features a dozen smallish plates -- a silky corn chowder, lovely crab empanadas, a pair of dainty sopes topped with barbecue-style pork, guacamole and chips -- each priced at $7.50. There are seven tacos and enchiladas ($3.50 to $4), and larger appetites can choose from five entree-size offerings ($16 to $22), including a big slab of seared tuna paired with a vegetable-pocked quinoa salad and meaty pork ribs with sauteed plantains.
The lively storefront space is nicely cramped, the way a good cocktail party should be (the main floor is where it's at; the mezzanine has a bit of a B-list aura), and it's peppered with amusing touches: live-action marionettes, an over-the-top candelabra dripping more wax than Madame Tussauds. Nice.
925 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-333-9953, barriotequila.com
Open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday.
click on www.shealink.com
MINNEAPOLIS (September 5, 2008) – Shea, Inc. a Minneapolis-based marketing and design firm was contracted by Hemisphere Companies to help develop and design a new hotel at the South Beach Resort and Casino in Winnepeg, Canada. Shea designed the hotel’s interior spaces including the lobby area, rooms, retail spaces, café, banquet hall, and pool. The existing casino’s South Beach theme and its bright, bold colors of the tropics were incorporated into the new hotel in a clean, sophisticated way. Shea also provided design recommendations for refreshing the existing casino in order to complement and blend with the new adjacent hotel. The grand opening of the South Beach Resort and Casino expansion took place on Friday, August 29.
Formed in 2001, Minneapolis-based Hemisphere Companies is a fully integrated hospitality organization offering "A to Z" solutions in the gaming and leisure space. Through various entities, the Companies' principals and employees provide expertise from concept development to site selection, design, construction, financing, pre-opening and on-going management.
Shea, Inc., now celebrating its 30th year, is a marketing and design firm integrating expertise in marketing, architecture, and interior design. Shea blends diverse perspectives, skills, cultures and knowledge into solid creative strategy for clients. Shea’s client list includes Macy’s, TCF National Bank, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Wells Fargo and Midcontinent Communications. For more information on Shea, please contact Andy McDermott at 612.594.4245 or visit our Web site http://www.shealink.com/.
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Aveda founder and co-preneur Horst Rechelbacher has now officially launched his certified organic health and beauty brand, Intelligent Nutrients, with more than 20 SKUs. The initial collection includes aromatics, body cleansers, scalp, hair care adn styling products. The heart of the line though says Horst is Intellimune; an internal/external certified organic super antioxidant seed oil blend and tablets. This is the first phase of an entire lifestyle brand with future products to include skin care, body care, maternal/baby care, love therapy, pet care adn INvironmental products for the home."We've created something that has not been done before with Intelligent Nutrients. We've merged food science and cosmetic chemistry to create a new paradigm in beauty. We can it Nutritional Chemistry - it's based on using only certified organic food-derived ingredients - substances the body recognizes and readily assimilates and nutrients in the body," said Rechelbacher, who stunned the audience at a speaking engagement when he cracked open a bottle of his new hairspray, poured it into a wine glass, made a toast and drank it.
LAST year, advertisements began appearing in magazines depicting sand, surf and, in one case, a model wearing a mysterious silver amulet.
“A lot of people, when they saw the campaign, thought it wasn’t selling anything,” said Alan Becker, the developer of Nizuc, a resort just south of Cancún, Mexico, where rooms will start at about $800 a night.
But his goal in the campaign was to get the Nizuc name in circulation. The point is to establish a strong brand before the hotel opens for business next year.
In fact, Mr. Becker, who is based in Mexico City, began creating the brand soon after buying Nizuc’s 28-acre site in 2005, and long before he had a hotel operator or an architect on board. (In addition to the 61-room hotel, the property will eventually have more than 150 residences, most of them apartment-style condominiums.)
Generally, an independent hotel developer like Mr. Becker begins a project by choosing an architect, or a hotel chain like Starwood or Marriott, to help determine the look of the building.
According to John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott International, his company prefers to sign management contracts early in the design process, so that the hotel can be tailored to its standards. A hotel built without the company’s involvement may require renovations before it can be labeled a Marriott, he said.
Mr. Becker tried signing up a management company early, but it didn’t work for him.
In 2005, soon after buying the Nizuc site, Mr. Becker interviewed a half-dozen upscale hotel chains — a process he called “a beauty contest.” But, he said, “we couldn’t agree on a style for the hotel.” The companies, he said, proposed buildings “that had nothing to do with the location.” They were thinking more about their brand identities, he said, than about the site’s special attributes.
Mr. Becker wanted the building to reflect the history of the region, which was an outpost of the Mayan civilization. “We wanted it to be Mayan without being thematic,” he said.
Enter Leslie Smolan and Ken Carbone, partners for 30 years in a Manhattan branding firm, the Carbone Smolan Agency. Their previous jobs have included creating the graphics for the renovated Louvre in Paris and recruiting materials for the Manhattan law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
For Mr. Becker, 35, who had never before developed a hotel, they suggested deciding on the basic themes of the hotel, then trying to find a hotel operator who would share their vision.
That began the process of creating what Ms. Smolan called a “brand platform” — the basic ideas from which all other decisions about the hotel would flow. In the case of Nizuc, the theme was “Mayan culture brought into the 21st century.” (The concept leaves enough room for such non-Mayan necessities as sushi.) Once they had established the platform, they promoted the brand not only with print ads, but also with a short film produced at the site.
Mr. Becker would not say how much he paid the branding firm. Ms. Smolan calls her services cost-effective, because, she said, they streamline the rest of the process of creating the hotel.
Mr. Becker agreed. “We spent nine months working to understand, visually and graphically, what were the soul and the feeling we wanted to create,” he said. “Once we did that, it was very easy for everyone involved in the project, from the architect to the landscape architect to the interior designer, to get on board.”
After establishing the brand, Mr. Becker was able to enlist General Hotel Management Ltd., which runs the Setai, a luxury hotel in Miami Beach, and nearly 20 other properties, to operate the Nizuc hotel. G.H.M.’s chairman, Adrian Zecha, a former journalist who is based in Singapore, is best known for creating the high-end Aman Resorts chain.
Mr. Zecha, 75, who spoke by phone from Bali, said part of G.H.M.’S business plan is to operate five-star hotels that have “their own independent identities.” He said Nizuc “fits right in” and praised Mr. Becker’s initiative.
Mr. Becker and his three partners expect to invest $180 million in Nizuc, including the cost of the property (and an adjacent, 22-acre nature preserve), which is shielded from the lights and sounds of Cancún, he said.
The seller was the Mexican government, which had used the waterfront parcel as a presidential retreat — a Mexican Camp David. In 2004, the government decided to auction the land. One of its goals was to spur more high-end hotel development around Cancún, which to many has long been known as a raucous spring-break capital.
Mr. Becker bid $30 million for the land — 40 percent more, he said, than the second-highest bidder.
That might suggest he overpaid for the parcel. But he said he could make back his investment, both from the condos he is building there and from the hotel itself, where nightly prices will range from $800 for a 800-square-foot suite to about $15,000 for a five-bedroom villa. A top-of-the-line Marriott, the J. W. Marriott Cancún Resort and Spa, charges about $250 a night in summer.
To make sure the complex is compelling, Mr. Zecha brought in Jean-Michel Gathy, an architect who has designed many of the G.H.M. and Aman hotels. Nizuc will feature a row of six pools, each set at a different temperature, and cabana-like perches on a jetty built into the Caribbean.
Mr. Gathy, who is based in Malaysia, brought in a number of consultants, including a lighting design company, the Flaming Beacon, from Australia; a landscape designer, Nathan Browning, from Florida; and an interior designer, Jaya Ibrahim, from Indonesia. Mr. Becker said that building the hotel would cost about $79 million, or about $1.3 million for each of the 61 suites.
Mr. Becker concedes that working with Mr. Zecha is expensive, because every item is being custom-made for the hotel. Mr. Zecha’s company charges for its consulting services while the hotel is being built; once the hotel opens, it will receive a management fee.
As for Ms. Smolan, she is trying the branding-first approach again, this time with a former grande dame of a hotel, in Bordighera, on the Italian Riviera. The property, the Hotel Angst (named for its onetime owner Adolph Angst) has been a ruin for years; its new owners, based in Milan, expect to undertake an extensive renovation.
In the meantime, Ms. Smolan said, “there is no architect, no operator, but we’re creating a whole brand.”