A smattering of my copywriting work for NextSeed
Shortly after moving to Seattle, I began working with NextSeed, a Houston-based crowdfunding company. Specifically, they help startups and small businesses raise capital to establish themselves, expand, or make necessary renovations while helping local investors to diversify their portfolio. After a short while writing blog content for them, I was asked to write the campaign pages for the companies they were championing.
Houston being where it’s at as a city right now, most of the businesses NextSeed has worked with up til now are some sort of food or bar concept, unsurprisingly given Houston’s now-international reputation as a foodie dream. Which means for someone who’s never visited Houston, I’m strangely well versed in its cuisine scene, its star chefs, and its most happening neighborhoods — none of which I expected when I first learned of its existence as a food hub on David Chang’s Ugly Delicious Netflix show a few years ago.
Some of these campaigns went on to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars toward renovations after Hurricane Harvey, buildouts of lifelong dreams, and expansions of community-centered visions. In telling these places’ stories this way, I was actually able to help them in a way greater than simply free publicity. All of the following were successfully funded. Some of them are live right now, if you feel like donating.
B.B. Italia & B.B. Pizza
A staple restaurant of Houston’s Energy Corridor for 37 years, Carmelo’s Cucina Italiana is undergoing a much-needed refresh following its purchase by an esteemed local restauranteur.
The Toasted Coconut
The Toasted Coconut is set to add a touch of the tropical to Houston’s Heights neighborhood. A tiki concept from the team behind Nobie’s — one of Houston’s most beloved and elevated neighborhood hangouts — The Toasted Coconut will be a whimsical escape to the tropics showcasing Caribbean, Latin American and Southeast Asian cuisines with a 1,500-square-foot patio.
Railway Heights Market
Railway Heights Market is not a mall. You won’t find food concepts so innovative, retail experiences so individual, spaces so flawlessly designed, or companies as locally representative at the depressing regional galleria. Born out of the minds of the team behind Houston’s Conservatory and Prohibition food halls, Railway Heights Market will be a place that the country’s most exciting and cutting edge food trends are implemented in a way that can make meaningful differences in people’s lives.
After a lifetime spent traveling the world, working in accomplished kitchens and founding his own outstanding eatery in San Francisco, La Fusion, Francisco Madero moved to Texas to open Tacos Patron in Plano, TX, an affluent suburb north of Dallas. One year later, and his creation is already primed to expand to Frisco, TX.
Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen, a Houston-based restaurant with a focus on authentic Mexican cuisine and world class hospitality, is opening a second location on Towne Lake in the city’s Cypress neighborhood.
As a 12-year Houston resident who’d been working in the hospitality industry since his 21st birthday, Dominic Moreau knew a good location for a bar when he spotted one. He was walking to an Astros game through East Downtown. It had a third floor deck and a “For Lease” sign advertised on its side. He called the number and Sunset Rooftop Patio was born.
Urban Putt Denver
To be located in a landmark building in the city’s oldest neighborhood, Urban Putt will be an innovative world designed solely around the mission of having fun. Featuring some of the planet’s most creative courses all blended into one seamless indoor mini golf experience, Urban Putt Denver will serve as one of the area’s most incomparable attractions, complete with outstanding food, a full bar program, and an events space.
Bumpy Pickle will be Houston’s largest recreational outdoor sand volleyball and pickleball court facility; an all-encompassing adult entertainment center, restaurant, and bar in Houston’s Second Ward neighborhood from the creators of East Downtown’s Sports Creek.
With a menu spanning Malaysian, Cantonese, Szechuan, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian dishes, Sing takes its name and inspiration from the city/state of Singapore, a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Sing will bring a fresh new take on Asian food and dining service to Houston, and eventually the rest of the country.
Baby Blues BBQ
Baby Blues BBQ, the successful national barbecue concept, is opening its eagerly anticipated fifth location in LA’s pulsating Koreatown, providing a traditional and mainstream counterbalance to the neighborhood’s trendy carnivorous options.
Crab Corner has been serving Las Vegas with Maryland cuisine that provides all East Coast transplants a true taste of home since 2010. Specialties include fresh blue crabs, iconic boardwalk fries, and authentic crab cakes. After expanding to their new location, the restaurant is looking to continue growing by renovating its patio space and tapping into Vegas’s world famous events market.
Named for the first recorded Irishman to set foot in Texas and the state’s later Governor, Hugh O’Connor’s was created by another two Irishmen who now call Texas home as a haven for all people seeking Ireland’s famous hospitality. Featuring a menu of whiskey based cocktails, craft beer, casual dining, and the freshest Guinness in the city, the concept reimagines the traditional Irish bar, and brings the experience into the 21st Century to better represent a living, breathing, vibrant culture.
East End Backyard
East End Backyard Bar, a 20,000 sq foot indoor / outdoor dog friendly neighborhood bar, will be an affordable, relaxed social venue and community hub for Houston’s East Downtown neighborhood, from former Houston Dynamo and owner of nearby Pitch 25, Brian Ching.
In addition to writing the campaigns, I also write the press releases for the campaign announcements, social media posts, and email blasts, among other deliverables. Here are a smattering of those from funded campaigns.
The Toasted Coconut
Today, Martin and Sara Stayer, owners of Houston restaurant Nobie’s, announced new details about their forthcoming tiki bar and restaurant concept, The Toasted Coconut.
The Toasted Coconut, a tiki-influenced bar and patio with a full food menu set to open in the Montrose neighborhood, was announced as the Stayers’ second venture in Houston following their return to their hometown from Chicago. The Toasted Coconut will be an inland escape to an island paradise, where guests can forget they’re in one of the country’s largest urban areas and enjoy a taste of the tropics with drinks from one of Houston’s best bartenders and food from one of its most acclaimed chefs. The new details were released via a campaign on Houston based crowdfunding site, NextSeed.
Learn more: nextseed.com/the-toasted-coconut
“We want to make The Toasted Coconut a totally transportive place,” Martin Stayer, co-owner and head chef, says. “The drinks are going to be creative, fun, and use housemade syrups, fresh ingredients, and iconic tiki-inspired spirits. To go with them, we’re creating a food menu based on dishes and cuisines from the 20th Parallel, a line of latitude that encompasses all sorts of amazing countries — like Cuba, China, Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam — using the best ingredients we can from local, independent, and sustainable purveyors.”
After graduating from the Western Culinary Institute in 2005, Martin was recruited to work at Moto in Chicago, where he learned to cook molecular gastronomy for a fine dining audience in a Michelin-starred kitchen. Following a stint opening restaurants with the Hogsalt group, he and Sara moved back to Houston to open Nobie’s, an elevated neighborhood restaurant named for his grandmother. After four years of outstanding reviews, Martin, Nobie’s sommelier Sara, and bar director, Sarah Troxell are teaming up on their new tiki-concept.
To create the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the drinks they concoct, The Toasted Coconut will feature a 1,500-square-foot patio with large, lush plants; a sandy beach area, akin to an adult sand box; and a palm palapa, a thatched hut that was on the property when they bought it. The inside will be a bright, inviting, colorful space, with an event room designed to look like a shipwreck. All counted, the restaurant and bar will be able to seat 100 people.
“We’ve been running Toasty Tuesdays at Nobie’s for a little while, giving people a preview of what they can expect from The Toasted Coconut,” Martin says. “The response and enthusiasm have been fantastic, and we’re so excited to open the full experience soon. Tiki bars are incredibly fun, and we can’t wait to push the boundaries at ours with Sarah’s expertise behind the bar and with our food menu. We’re bringing a touch of the tropical to Texas, and are looking forward to sharing it with our community!”
B.B. Italia & B.B. Pizza
The Houston-based restauranteur behind B&B Butcher & Restaurant, Benjamin Berg, and his brother, Dan Berg — a veteran of several Michelin star kitchens in New York City, Milan, and Sicily — today revealed preview images of their renovation plans for Houston’s Energy Corridor Italian-American icon, Carmelo’s Cucina Italiana.
A neighborhood staple of West Houston for 37 years, Carmelo’s is undergoing a much needed update following the original owner, Carmelo Mauro’s, decision to retire following the damage inflicted upon the restaurant by Hurricane Harvey.
The new Carmelo’s menu will be given a refresh along with the interior, showcasing Italian-American classics and outstanding Texan produce, accompanied by seamless service that Benjamin’s come to be associated with after his lifetime of work in the hospitality industry and the outstanding success of his previous local venture, B&B Butcher and Restaurants. The project is currently raising working capital through a campaign on Houston-based investment crowdfunding portal NextSeed.
Learn more: nextseed.com/bb-italia-bb-pizza
“Carmelo’s has lifelong customers who visit each year for their anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions,” says Benjamin, a long time resident of the Energy Corridor area. “Living just a few blocks from Carmelo’s and seeing how the community pulled together in the wake of the hurricane really impressed upon me the value of local institutions like this one. We want to strengthen that neighborhood feel while bringing the restaurant into the 21st Century.”
By giving him a chance to return to his Italian-American culinary roots, Benjamin convinced his brother, Dan, to join him in his new Houston venture. After a lifetime of Italian cooking, working under A Voce’s Andrew Carmellini, and studying in Italy, Dan decided the time was right to experience a different part of the country to the pair’s native New York City and share what he’d learned with a new audience.
“I’m most excited by the opportunities to work with Texan produce and the longer growing seasons,” Dan says. “Italian cooking is all about using outstanding ingredients and preparing them simply, so in addition to fantastic local produce like tomatoes and melons in dishes, you’ll also find some regional ingredients traditionally uncommon in Italian cuisine which we just couldn’t ignore, like red fish or shishito peppers.”
One of the highlights of the redesigned interior is the brand new pasta machine, the star of the show, on display to all in the dining room behind a glass case as it cranks out fresh extruded and stuffed pasta. Guests can also expect to find other classic Italian-American icons on the menu, as well as a remarkable wine list and authentic pizza to go from the bar.
In addition to the pasta machine, those eating in will find a completely remodeled dining room and bar, as well as bathrooms and private event rooms, with flow and openness prioritized for the whole restaurant. Carmelo’s facade will also receive an update, as will the service standards and dining technology, for example allowing customers to pay table side.
“I grew up eating incredible Italian food in New York City,” Benjamin says. “I can’t wait to give the city I now call home a world class Italian restaurant, and continue the legacy of a family-owned and -operated business Houstonians should be really proud of.”
Tacos Patron announcement email
Tacos Patron is launching a NextSeed campaign to develop its second restaurant in North Texas. Originally a Legacy Food Hall concept in Plano, the new standalone project is to be located in Frisco, Money magazine’s #1 place to live of 2018.
The Mexico City-inspired taqueria will bolster its menu with pan-Latin comfort dishes from its Legacy Hall sister restaurant, Bravazo Taqueria, “funky tacos” using globally inspired ingredients, and a signature cocktail list of mezcal and pisco-based drinks.
The NextSeed team
Baby Blues BBQ announcement email
Baby Blues BBQ, a west coast-based national barbecue restaurant with locations in Venice, San Francisco and Philadelphia, is launching a campaign for its fifth location in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The new upscale dive with legions of loyal smoked meat fans across the country will offer Texas-style brisket, Memphis-style ribs and Carolina-style pulled pork along with their popular side dishes and sauces, as well as beer, wine and soju-infused cocktails inspired by their Koreatown surroundings.
The NextSeed Team
Railway Heights progress email
Railway Heights Market just surpassed X% of their minimum funding goal!
The two-story artisan marketplace, food hall, and beer garden on Washington Avenue from the creators of Prohibition and Conservatory will also feature a wine bar, coffee roastery, dog park, and a weekly farmers market, as well as a laborless salad bar, membership-based health foods buffet, and independent retail shops.
The NextSeed Team
Ambriza Social Mexican Kitchen is now accepting investments on NextSeed! Known throughout Houston for their award-winning margaritas, the authentic Mexican restaurant’s second location, on Lake Cypress, will feature trajineras for diners to take their drinks onto the lake, an indoor fire pit, and Houston’s most traditional Mexican menu.
Urban Putt Denver
Urban Putt Denver is now accepting investments on NextSeed! The immersive mini golf experience comes to the Mountain West with 18 holes inspired by everything from classic movies to Denver’s iconic scenery, and will feature outstanding food, drink, and event facilities.