A sea of basil and mint creates a green oasis in two new La Place restaurants introduced at Hema. "We are very proud that we were able to create a fresh herb experience in collaboration with Leaf: a herb greenhouse and a fresh tea garden," explains Renée Peeters of Vitacress Real. The greening creates an extra fresh experience for guests in scent, color, and taste.
Basil in the kitchen
In La Place's new concept, guests no longer walk past a buffet but can order directly from a food or barista bar. The order is freshly prepared there on the spot. Guests can also place an order in the restaurant via a QR code, pay directly and receive the order at the table.
The La Place menu offers classics as well as new favorites. Guests can go for the meal salads, juices, fresh herbal teas, and sandwiches, as well as plate pizzas with, for example, salmon, chicken, or grilled vegetables, and vegetarian pitas with falafel or peppers and feta.
Storytelling has also been added to the new concept. Guests are taken inside the restaurant into the stories behind certain products and the steps La Place is taking in terms of sustainability. For example, the mushrooms in the ragout are grown on 'circular coffee grounds.' Herbs, too, are grown on a compost stream. Leftover croissants are used in a homemade bread pudding.
Fresh mint tea trays
For the story around herbs and their perception, Vitacress Real came into the picture. Renée: "La Place wants to bring healthy and tasty concepts, and our Vitalicious catering concept is totally in line with that. Vita stands for vitality and health and delicious for delicious flavors. So that connects very well."
In collaboration with Leaf, a new and sustainable way of presentation was sought. "The set-up and grow light were developed by Leaf, which ensures a longer shelf life for the herbal plants. Leaf supplies the so-called hardware, the herb trays with water basins. We supply the software: herb trays with basil and mint from Dutch soil for in the herb greenhouse. Chefs use the herbs to make fresh pesto, and baristas to prepare mint tea. Besides the widely known mint tea, other herbal teas from Vitalicious are also offered, such as lemon thyme and lemon balm. Guests can choose from tea recipes made by the baristas."
Herbal stock as seen in the vertical racks
With a complementary and innovative offering of these lesser-known fresh tea herbs and tea recipes, it will build on the popularity of mint and ginger tea. "There is still a huge gap. If you see what has happened with coffee in the hospitality industry in recent years, there is still a lot to be gained with fresh herbal teas and flavors," he says. The coffee trend has blown over from hospitality to home. We think a lot is still possible with fresh herbal teas; there is still a lot to be gained there in terms of experience. That makes this cooperation extra valuable," says Renée, who is already busy thinking about convenience concepts for consumers.
Vitalicious's herbal experience concept has now been rolled out at the first pilot La Place branch at Hema in Hilversum. It will soon be joined by a second branch in Alkmaar. If successful, Vitalicious's greening and tea concept will be introduced at all La Place restaurants.