Would you pay up to $8 for a bowl of cereal? Kellogg’s is betting yes as it opens Kellogg’s NYC, a branded café in New York City’s Times Square that’s selling breakfast cereal as a premium brand experience amidst “soggy” packaged cereal sales in the US.
As the Kellogg Company notes in a press release, the permanent (not pop-up—it has a five-year lease) eatery at 1600 Broadway isn’t just an all-day breakfast bar, but “the new home of cereal innovation and delicious experimentation” for the cereal giant.
On the menu: Instagram-ready dishes featuring Kellogg’s cereals “combined with unique ingredients, all served with a side of fun.” The cereal bowl dishes are milk-based while sundaes feature Brooklyn’s organic Blue Marble ice cream.
The café will have dine-in or take-out options and there are plans to launch a delivery service and catering. Menu items, priced from $6 to $8, will also rotate every three months. In addition to cereal, the café will also have fresh juices, milk shakes and locally-roasted coffee.
With a soft opening (hashtag: #StirItUpNYC) and local references (such as “The Chai Line” bowl, a nod to The High Line) wooing New York’s holiday weekend crowds on July 4th, the official opening will take place on July 13th.
Kellogg’s NYC was developed in partnership with two restaurant industry luminaries: Journee founder Anthony Rudolf, former director of operations for Chef Thomas Keller’s New York restaurants, and Christina Tosi, chef/owner of Milk Bar, the New York City-based dessert branch of the Momofuku restaurant group which has outposts in New York, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.
Visitors to Kellogg’s NYC cereal cafe can look forward to an adventurous menu that includes pre-set combinations such as the Berry Me In Green Tea bowl featuring Rice Krispies, fresh strawberries and matcha green tea powder (below). Or they can customize their own bowls by “raiding the pantry” and selecting ingredients from the red kitchen cabinets.
Each dish comes with a small treat such as a newspaper, a ring or (best of all) tickets to Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
“This is story-doing versus storytelling,” Andrew Shripka, associate director of brand marketing for Kellogg, told the Wall Street Journal. “We could have put a great recipe on the box. But this is so much more powerful.”
Kellogg’s, like many consumer packaged food companies these days, has been challenged by consumers’ embrace of alternative breakfast options—avocado toast or Greek yogurt, anyone?—or simply skipping breakfast altogether.
Euromonitor estimates that packaged cereal sales dropped 8.1% between 2010 and 2015, while a 2016 survey by Mintel showed that nearly 40% of millennials think cereal is a hassle because (cerealously) there’s a bowl to wash at the end.
Cue professional cereal thriller Tosi, who “uses pallets of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in her signature Cereal Milk Soft Serve ice cream and her Corn-Flake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies,” reports WSJ.
In signing a longer-term partnership with FOX’s MasterChef judge, Kellogg’s hopes that her playful ingenuity “can reignite a passion for its brands by using them as a canvas for creativity.”
“A lot of us grew up on cereal,” Tosi told the Journal. “As a chef, if I can change the way people think about their everyday and time spent in the kitchen, that’s amazing.”
So order “Life in Color” (above) and you get Froot Loops with lime zest, marshmallows and passion fruit jam. Or try “Honey Buzz” (below) to enjoy a bowl of Honey Smacks with honey, toasted pecans and banana chips. The café will also offer sundaes like Froot Loops, lime zest, marshmallows and passion fruit jam mixed into Blue Marble ice cream with a price tag of $9.50.
Kellogg’s collaborated with Tosi in 2014 when she created cereal recipes for a temporary pop-up shop in New York. “Most people know about my love for cereal, but it goes further than just taste,” said Tosi at the time. “I’m excited to show families that a bowl of Kellogg’s cereal and one cup of skim milk is not only a nutritious combination of grains and protein – but can be dressed up with fun flavor boosts, making it a tasty way for anyone to start the day right!”
“People were so wowed by her recipes that we felt we were onto something,” Noel Geoffroy, Kellogg’s SVP of marketing and innovation, told TIME. “We wanted to continue this partnership with her.” So next came Kellogg’s Cereal Bar Street Cart in 2015:
As Kellogg’s NYC notes, “In 2015, Kellogg’s and Journee joined forces with a mission to reimagine a bowl of cereal. Unlike past short-term installations, this new partnership was formed around a commitment to creating a more enduring experience.”
Now, “As Kellogg’s turns 110 years old in 2016, we thought there would be no better way to celebrate than by doing something that the brand had never done before. And so, together, we built Kellogg’s NYC” — a brand experience that brings it back to Times Square, where the company hosted Pop-Tarts World pop-up from August 2010 to January 2011.
Designed with white-painted brick as a hip eatery concept in its own right, the brand experience is also catering to millennials who may remember starting the day with Toucan Sam and Tony the Tiger. For carb-fearing and time-pressed millennials and their offspring, cereal is no longer top of mind first thing in the morning.
Stirring up more excitement for cereal is part of Kellogg’s broader brand platform to reclaim breakfast, refresh its products and boost product innovation and inspiration, all in the name of a healthy start to the day for kids and adults alike.
“One-third of cereal consumption happens outside of breakfast hours,” said Geoffroy. “Cereals are meeting people’s meal needs across all parts of the day — in between meals, after school, even after dinner.”
“We hope to elevate the experience from just cereal with milk,” Geoffroy told the New York Daily News. “Just because I can open a beer at home, doesn’t mean I’m not going to the pub.”
Kellogg’s feels it’s the right time to disrupt its business and reposition its brands for growth. As its NYC eatery’s Instagram feed puts it, “After 110 years of breakfast goodness, we’re reimagining a bowl of cereal in the city where no dream is too big.”
Below, check out three of Tosi’s cereal twists on the Kellogg’s NYC menu: Chai Peach, Orange You Happy and Pistachio Lemon.