Every year, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce hosts a myriad of high-profile events for members of the public to connect and inform the larger business community. On May 4, the Chamber hosted the “Back to Business: Spring Virtual Collaborative.” The interactive virtual event was designed to propel economic growth and development among businesses through a variety of programming and sessions.
Looking to the Future of Beverly Hills with Mayor Robert Wunderlich
The event kicked off with a conversation between the newly installed Mayor, Robert Wunderlich, and Chamber President and CEO, Todd Johnson, outlining his vision for Beverly Hills during his term.
“We greatly support the distinctiveness of our small businesses,” Wunderlich said. “But I think what we want to support more is the uniqueness of the operations here. We want them to feel different. We love our small businesses, and there are heartening success stories there as well. I mean there’s Xi’an and Cafe Roma with their outdoor dining. They joined together to create an outdoor space that they could share, and both benefit from. It’s an example of a rising tide that lifts us all. Being a place that will support outdoor dining that wants to have the residents and visitors come there let’s create an attractive environment, and it’s good for all of us.”
Despite the pandemic, Wunderlich noted the successful opening of AMIRI on Rodeo Drive and Sant’olina restaurant on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton. Johnson noted the Chamber, in partnership with the city, offers counsel for businesses in Beverly Hills that need help applying for a loan or PPE preparedness. Similarly, the city’s OpenBH program proved invaluable for restaurants, retailers, salons and faith-based businesses who might have otherwise closed permanently due to pandemic related restrictions.
“We might have had an image in the past, maybe people thought we were aloof, maybe people might have thought we’re haughty, we’re Beverly Hills. And in today’s world, I think we have to demonstrate that we want things that fit us, and we want things that fit our brand. But we’re here to help.”
Restaurant Reinvention with the Original Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck joined Johnson to discuss restaurant reinvention, the art of hospitality and his Spago flagship restaurant on Canon Drive. “This is the mother of all of the other ones,” Puck told Johnson about Spago. “People always ask me, why do you spend so much time in Beverly Hills. I said this is the mother. I have to take care of the mother because she’s found all the other venues.”
“It’s an iconic location,” Puck said of Spago. “I think the city is iconic. I think the press you can get here is better than almost anywhere.”
By applying for a Special Event permit through the city’s OpenBH program, Spago installed an outdoor dining tent directly in front of restaurants’ existing brick and mortar to accommodate more customers. While the City Council extended the program through the end of the year, the future of outdoor dining remains uncertain. “I hope I keep it forever,” Puck said of the structure. “Why? Because I have a big kitchen, so we can do parties outside or parties inside. And I think in the end, we’re going to have more people working, so it benefits everybody.”
“I would not use the inside of the restaurant for like a la carte business,” Puck noted, should the tent remain permanent. “I will use it for parties. Or I would use the outside for party business, and the inside for a la cart business.”
State of Luxury with Ann Shatilla
Emmy Award-winning TV news producer and strategic communications PR consultant Ann Shatilla held her annual “State of Luxury with Ann Shatilla” signature event. The event shared insider tips and advice for luxury PR and marketing in an increasingly virtual market. “Today’s luxury client is deliberate and careful about purchasing and spending,” Shatilla said. “Clients now dig deeper into two things: the meaning and the purpose of the brand that they connect with.”
According to Shatilla, luxury keywords for 2021 are: transparency, values and ethics. “Brands that are putting their company values into action are seeing the results during this pandemic. Many of today’s consumers are actively looking to buy from a company associated with social, environmental, and political ideals.”
In defining luxury business for 2021, Shatilla underscored five points that companies should keep in mind to reach their consumers. “Remember this: cultural values, race, gender, sexual equality and income equality.”
The biggest disruptor defining luxury in 2021 is comfort and wellness, according to Shatilla. “Comfort and wellness are set to define luxury across the board for the rest of this year and beyond,” Shatilla said. “Call it comfort consumerism. It’s an alignment of luxury and well-being. People are now choosing purchases in the pursuit of consolation, luxury is no longer about a price point, it’s about relevance.”