Kellogg’s NYC invites you to play with your food
Nostalgia is a powerful force and nowhere is it more evident than memories of digging into a bowl of cereal as a kid while watching Saturday morning cartoons. It’s something that Kellogg’s was banking on when they opened its inaugural Kellogg’s NYC location in Times Square back in 2016.
Launched with help from consulting chef Christina Tosi and steered by restaurant veterans Anthony Rudolf (Jean Georges, Per Se) and Sandra Di Capua (Eleven Madison Park), the idea was to create a space that essentially rebranded the concept of cereal. Originally situated in a 1,000-square foot space, it’s since moved downtown to a 5,000-square foot space in Union Square that’s far roomier, is well-lit and welcoming.
Hammock chairs, dining room tables, couches and even kitchen counters invite customers to sit and chow down on anywhere from 10 to 15 different types of cereal that can be mixed up or served with a variety of toppings. A large box of Raisin Bran looms above a DIY cereal bar with 10 hoppers of different brands beckoning diners to come and mix and match their choices. Across the way is an Instagram station festooned with props where aficionados can adorn their creations before sharing them on social media. There’s even a halved disco ball complete with fake cereal and a large spoon lazily spinning on the ceiling by the large second-floor windows overlooking Union Square Park.
It’s all part of the overall experience that Di Capua and her partner were striving for when Kellogg’s first approached them back in 2016.
“We’re not marketers, we’re not packaged goods people—we’re hospitality people; and for us, the guest experience and the food is what matters to us,” she explained. “For us, it’s about hospitality and food. Flavors and making people feel warm. We talk often with our team about this Maya Angelou quote that we borrow from, which is ‘People often forget what they ate, but they’ll never forget the way you make them feel.’ So, we have our visitors experience joy through a bowl of cereal, nostalgia or a sense of familiarity.”
Creativity is encouraged, given that Di Capua and Rudolf like nothing more than seeing patrons play with their food. Many ingredients are bought fresh from the local green market and include everything from roasted apples, fresh strawberries and poached pears to sprinkles, yellow cake mix and chocolate chips.
Take your pick of Frosted Flakes, Corn Pops, Apple Jacks, Rice Krispies, Unicorn Cereal and the most popular flavor, Froot Loops. Prices range from $2 for a straight-up bowl and $4.50 if you choose to mix-and-match cereals while incorporating an unlimited amount of 30 different toppings.
With the mantra being Eat, Chill and Create, the middle part is stressed. Not unlike Starbucks, Kellogg’s NYC has Wi-Fi and it’s not unusual for people to have meetings here or use it as a makeshift office. There are also 65-inch TVs to kick back and watch, along with a variety of card and board games to play while you munch away to your heart’s content. And while there are no plans to open up new locations, Di Capua feels they have achieved their mission in spades.
“Kellogg’s wanted to bring [cereal] to life in a new way. It’s a brand that’s been on grocery store and supermarket shelves for the last 110-plus years,” she said. “The way that we interact with cereal is that we usually see it on a grocery store shelf, you pick up and take it home. It’s sort of lived like that for a very long time. So the opportunity to bring it to life in a very personal and hospitable way has never been done. What they charged us to do was reimagine a bowl of cereal and that’s what we did.”
Kellogg’s NYC is located at 31 E. 17th St. in NYC. Visit www.kelloggsnyc.com to find out more information.