Sometimes a Certain Dish Requires the Perfect Plate
As the tableware industry continues to grow, any restaurant owner or operator is left with a seemingly limitless amount of options. You can find any plate of any size in any color and that may be exactly what you’re looking for. But where is the uniqueness in that?
Very recently, Danny Meyer commissioned HAAND Hospitality to create a tableware set for his new private dining room at Union Square Café and for his grab ‘n go concept Daily Provisions next door. The Union Square team must have liked what they saw in HAAND because they commissioned the company to create a tiled wall mural for the backsplash behind the counter of Daily Provisions. We sat down with Mark Warren of HAAND to learn a little bit more about this unique North Carolina based tableware manufacturer.
HAAND is a relatively new company that got their start creating mug sets for gift shops in North Carolina. It was not until Warren and his partner Chris Pence got discovered by restaurateur Ashley Christensen to create a set for her new restaurant in Raleigh, NC that the company took off. Pence and Warren did not just jump into this business to be met with success either; the two high school friends formed the business on the tail end of their schooling. It all started when Warren and Pence moved into a small-dilapidated house outside of Durham where there was not even drinkable water. “The water was not really drinkable, so we would have to go out and buy water for all the ceramics. We ended up collecting rainwater built a filter – we made it work,” said Warren. It wasn’t until a year in that HAAND formed a deal with retailer Steven Alan in Manhattan.
After some momentum the pair moved out of their functional tear down and moved into a new location and hired their first employee. It wasn’t until 2015 when Warren and Pence were brought in by Christensen to create sets for her restaurant Death and Taxes. Christensen’s restaurant concept was all built around this wood stove. Christensen already had the concept and menu ready so when HAAND was brought in they took the approach of working backwards. “We used the ashes from the wood stove and turned that into the base for the glaze. We were able to design art specifically for her needs. It all just really came together, and we could not be happier about it,” Warren concluded.
Now HAAND has grown to 14 employees and has product all over the world. “Initially we were just making the products that we were familiar with, it was not until 2015 that we even considered tableware,” Warren added. It was not until HAAND created their Ripple series that was their first tableware-focused product. “I was never fully aware of the massive size of the tableware industry for hospitality until recently. I am very happy that we created something that was not lost in the shuffle,” Warren added. Warren and Pence accredit it to luck but the small company is clearly creating a phenomenal product.
When HAAND was brought in with Union Square Café it was all thanks to one of Warren’s mentors, Walter Lowry. “Walter is an intimidating, smart guy who I respected like crazy so when he told me to keep doing what I’m doing and that we could work together in the future, I listened,” Warren stated. Lowry made HAAND part of the conversation and put Pence and Warren in contact with Union Square’s Sam Lipp. “They had us in mind for Daily Provisions for tableware but it was really the mural that pulled it all together,” Warren added.
The mural for HAAND was described as a lot high pressure type of situation. “We knew it was a huge opportunity, we wanted to make a piece that made sense as a whole for the space. The Rockwell group and Sam had a loose concept, but gave me latitude to play around and make the project my own,” Warren added. HAAND decided that some research needed to be done to help better tie in the space, the city, and mural. The small tableware manufacturers decided to stay with the historical Dutch style Delftware, to tie into the history of NYC. They tied in the food with classic old breeds of pigs and chickens in Warren’s painting style. The incorporation of history and matching aesthetic for Daily Provisions is exactly what the Union Square team was looking for.
“It was a big job for us so we wanted to make sure we were creating the best product we could. We made sure everything was as good as possible and are very proud of the end product,” Warren concluded.
To learn more about HAAND Hospitality, please visit their website.