Friday, November 14, 2008

Current Goal: Monetize My Restaurant Passion

If you've ever eaten with me (or probably if you've ever spoken to me), you know.  I love food.  Mexican food, desserts, Ethiopian Food, cream cheese.  Indian food, garlic bread, Thai food, and tofu.  It's all beautiful to me, and meals in my company are more like celebrations that last hours.  I enjoy every bite, bask in every moment, and appreciate (almost) every morsel.

Being in New York City, I'm constantly tempted by the compendious food choices that surround me.  When I do decide to go out I find myself spinning in circles in an attempt to decide which place to enter.  There are thousands of restaurants in the city (I tried to devise methods for accurately estimating but fear I have yet to think of an efficient way of doing so) and I want to go to taste what every single one has to offer.  

I'm not sure if it's the overachiever in me, the romantic idea of accomplishment that comes with eating something from every restaurant, or the value I place on the social currency of truly being able to offer solid recommendations to people based on their interests, but I might be a lot obsessed with the thought of eating in every New York City restaurant.  I achieved this in Northampton, Massachusetts right before I moved away, but the issue of closures and change in the city would make such a feat nearly impossible in New York City.  

Still, I would very much like to explore the idea of trying.  Because of money restrictions such an idea is out of the question, but of course I'm not willing to give up so quickly, and here is where I need your brilliant minds.  If I were to pursue this goal I would need a lot of money.  Some sort of funding would need to be made available, either via a V.C, sponsorship(s), or a means of monetizing my restaurant attendance (perhaps Super Size Me or Fast Food Nation style?) would certainly be in order.

If I could get that, or if I were to propose such a thing, what would be required on my part?  For the unadulterated pleasure of thought exercises, I wish to explore the proposition below:

According to a Google Answers response the Census Bureau recorded 14,590 restaurants and bars in New York City at the end of 2002.  For the sake of estimation and such, let's just assume there are 15,000 restaurants in the city.  I'm not a math major here so correct me if I'm wrong, but if I went to one restaurant per day, it would take me 15,000 days or 41.1 years to conquer the city's food venues (not taking into account leap years).  At an average of $25 per meal (I pulled that number from thin air) I would need $375,000 to eat out once per day for the next 41.1 years.

The first thought that pops into my head when I think about 41 years is the way native New Yorkers talk about how New York used to feel in the 1970's.  It seems like a completely different world, and with different worlds undoubtedly comes different restaurants.  Few of the mainstays from when I began my project would still exist 41 years from now, meaning I should, in theory, give up on the idea.  

But then I think about how wonderful it would be to try every restaurant.  It wouldn't be a matter of which restaurant I wanted to experience, but for what occasion and when I wanted to experience it.  I can imagine drawing graphs and posting oversized maps illustrating my quest through the city's cuisine.  

When I was little (like two or three) I wanted to be a pirate.  Something about that desire still fascinates me, but this restaurant proposition even beats the dreamy elements of choosing "pirate" as a career path.

I may not ever get to every restaurant in New York City, but what if I could eat in every location?  What is Grotto on 100 Forsyth Street today might be a completely different restaurant in 2050, but I would still be able to say that I, at the tender age of 22, once sat in that restaurant back before they started serving whatever will be the unimaginably futuristic and trendy cuisine of 41 years from now.

The visions of the past are mostly irrelevant to most, but in my eyes that doesn't devalue the idea of chasing my goal. The restaurants I attend may not always exist but I know I'll always remember the way it felt to bask in the nautical environment of Grotto, for example, as I shared entrees of tortellini and pork with someone I hope will still be in my life in one way or another 41.1 years from now.

Unwavering I stand.  I'm not saying there won't be nights when I want to stay in, but I foresee unmatched good times.  I could become the Beatle Bob of New York City's restaurants, the foodie version of Dale Webster (the man who has surfed every day for more than 32 years), or the aficionado of food history in New York.  Whatever the case, it sounds like a beautiful mission.  

Anybody care to share how I could monetize this or find some sort of funding?  I'll show you lots of appreciation, and if you're lucky, take you out to dinner.

Today's music recommendations honor two wonderful artists who, in my opinion, have provided beautiful work on New York.

LCD Soundsystem - "New York I Love You" (The scenes are from a Carson film about NYC in the 1950's)

Kelly McRae - "BQE" (I couldn't find the actual song in video form, but check it out.  It has some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard when it comes to appreciating the city.)