Trying to come up with a way to give his employees holiday gifts without breaking the bank, Northern Spy Food Co. partner Christophe Hille borrowed a program in place out at A16 in San Francisco and brought it east. Basically, he started a gift card swap with restaurants. Hille contacted any restaurants he could think of or find email addresses for, offered to trade gift cards to his restaurant in exchange for gift cards to theirs, and gathered a stack to raffle off to his staff at their holiday party. Now the program has caught on and many of the restaurants—40 are participating including 10 Downing, Bobo, Frankies, Franny's, Hearth, Savoy, Il Buco, and Klee Brasserie—are trading with one another.
Hille explains the benefits of the endeavor: 1) It gets staff out to restaurants they'd never go to where they stand to learn something new about food and service, 2) It brings the restaurant new industry clientele, 3) The trade cost is marginal to the restaurant and could actually bring in new business, and last but not least, Hille explains that "it serves to get restaurant owners and managers to meet and talk a bit (even if only by email), forming a bit more of a collaborative community where we're more aware of each other." No it has nothing to do with NYC diners, but it's nice to see restaurants thinking about their staff and connecting with one another.