This month we talked with Holly & Corey Machanic, new members and co-founders of restaurant website design firm Flavor Plate.
Tell us about yourselves! What is your history with the sustainable food world?
Well, it’s actually pretty simple, and more personal than business-related… We have two young girls (7 and 10), and ever since their birth—while coinciding with the release of some of the more popular food documentaries—we’ve become very aware of the importance of the source and quality of our food. We think it’s too easy to assume that what’s on the market today is “safe” or “healthy” to eat, but the reality is we really need to be questioning things more thoroughly. Once you gain an awareness about the importance of where your food comes from, it becomes a lens through which you can see more critically, and it enables you to make better informed choices.
What does FlavorPlate do and what’s your vision?
We have over 15 years of web usability and design experience—working with many national and international brands—combined with over 10 years in restaurant and account management positions. Like many of us, we dreamed of making a living by doing something we love. We’ve been fortunate to be able to develop a product that combines so many of our professional skills with our personal interests. It’s a real gratifying experience.
Our goal with Flavor Plate was to make a restaurant’s most valuable marketing tool (i.e. its website) easy to use, manageable, accessible, and affordable. We’ve found the best way to do this is to mask the complexity, with simplicity. If we keep our product simple and easy to use, our clients will be empowered to use the technology, and their guests will have a positive experience using their website. It’s a very basic premise and everyone that tries Flavor Plate agrees—anyone can use it.
We created Flavor Plate from the ground up specifically for restaurants. It’s not a WordPress solution, or some other all-purpose website solution. It’s a custom product. All of its features, and how you use them are specific to what a restaurant needs, how a restaurant functions, and probably more importantly, what their customers need.
In a nutshell, Flavor Plate is a template-based solution that allows restaurants to build and manage their website. Our customers can easily manage their menus, photos, events, contact information, farm partnerships, press, and any other content that helps tell their story. They can connect with social networks, and other third-party services like reservations and online ordering. We offer a seamless integration with our online merchant partner to give each of our customers the ability to sell their own gift cards or gift certificates through their website. This feature is included with their regular monthly subscription. In addition to all of that, we’ve anticipated the need for mobile optimization by building every Flavor Plate website on a responsively designed template. This assures that our clients’ sites display properly, or “respond,” to every screen size automatically (desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets), and the restaurateur never has to take any extra steps to assure this—it’s built in.
Why do you think the chef community is crucial to support in sustainable practices?
There are many chefs and restaurateurs that run their businesses by putting their values first. Those values (i.e. supporting sustainable food practices) often come with a higher price tag. By choosing to use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients they’re doing what feels right—right for their business, right for their local economy, and right for their guests. At Flavor Plate, we want to recognize this commitment, and help support them by doing as much as we can.
In addition to supporting organizations like the Chef’s Collaborative, Farm Aid, and other local food networks, we’re offering discounted prices on our monthly subscription and design services to “Farm-to-Table” supporters.
Why are you a member of Chefs Collaborative?
We’re a small bootstrapping start-up, and it’s important that we align ourselves with organizations who are working towards a shared goal. We decided to support Chefs Collaborative because of their important role in the food community. They’re in a unique position to be able to use their network to communicate valuable information about sustainability to large audiences, and ultimately, this work is going to benefit us all.
What’s next for Flavor Plate?
We’re very aware of the many unique challenges that restaurants face, and we believe there is a place for technology to help solve some of them. Our hope is that as we develop more relationships with customers and local food organizations, we’ll gain a better understanding of these challenges, and continually improve our product to help resolve these issues.
There is one opportunity on our radar that we feel strongly about, and that’s helping the small independent farms. There’s a need to craft a like-solution for them, and with a little more research, and a better understanding of their needs, we feel that we’ll be able to create a stronger connection between the “farm” and the “table.” So if you’re a small farm, or a restaurant that would like to help support a farm, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you about how we can help.
Interested in learning more? Flavor Plate offers a free initial design setup to each new client. Custom design services are also available at an hourly rate. Be sure to check out their website
Corey and Holly Machanic live in Burlington, Vermont and are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most progressive sustainable food initiatives in the country.