My D̶i̶n̶n̶e̶r̶ Breakfast with A̶n̶d̶r̶e̶ Omelet
Sometimes the hype at SXSW was hot & nutritious & fun
By Wayne Alan Brenner, 3:44PM, Mon. Apr. 7
You wake up, with or without a hangover, and it's SXSW, so your usual schedule is already … how shall we put this gently? Your usual schedule is already Fucked Beyond Recognition?
And you probably do have a hangover, after all.
So what you need – because it is the most important meal of the day, after all – is a little tasty breakfast, some solid proteins and carbs in the midst of that lake of coffee you'll be guzzling. And not, preferably, a breakfast of something you've had to scrounge up yourself. And not, preferably, something you're eating in the midst of a noisy, crowded, banner-festooned tentful of other Southby sojourners.
I was fortunate enough, being a journo, that one of those recent SXSW Interactive days was covered for me, breakfastwise, by a company out of California: a company with the appropriate name of Omelet.
[Note: Let me assure you here that I'm not writing about just some tacky, megacorpish, attention-grabbing gambit that might leave a bad taste in your Dude-I'm-Not-Just-a-CONSUMER soul. Let me assure you that, when you read a William Gibson novel (oh, Pattern Recognition, say) and there's mention somewhere in there of a smallish but fierce agency that comes across as smooth & friendly & happy to spread the word – of their clients, of themselves, of whatever – by providing a sweet little social experience that feels more like getting together with new friends and talking about cool shit, thus subverting the whole repellent hardsell paradigm that the ad biz grew to embody in earlier times … that firm from the Gibson-novel background, that team, that professionally affable gang of promotion, could well be Omelet.]
What they were doing was bringing breakfast to people during SXSW – to wherever those people lived (or were staying for the Southby duration) in Central Austin. You'd send the Omelet people a tweet, was the idea, get the social media sphere a-buzzing, and maybe you & your pallies would be the ones visited at your home in the morning – with fresh coffee and Bloody Marys and bagels and even omelets cooked up on the spot.
Me, I stopped in for the last breakfast of their tour: Breakfast at a house in Travis Heights, one of those lovely residences that the regular inhabitants rent out to festivalgoers while all the hubbub's in progress Downtown. What the Omelet folks had done was bring that morning's breakfast to another visiting company that was in from beyond Texas: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams out of Columbus, Ohio.
"We’ve loved their ice cream for years," Omelet's Mark Anderson told me, "and when we found out they were at SXSW scooping for Rachael Ray and others, we reached out on Twitter to see if we could offer them a little something for their hard work."
[Note: If you're beginning to suspect that my incursion into this laid-back event was something of a double-whammy of goodness, you'd be right.]
I walked into the house and there were the Omelet folks, hanging out and chatting with the Jeni's folks. Bunch of bright, pretty, young people in various angles of repose in the kitchen, the tiny dining room, the small living room. Everybody drinking coffee and/or Bloody Marys and/or mimosas, everybody stoking their appetites with bagels while the aforementioned Mark Anderson (Omelet's Chief Experiential Officer) manned the stove and served up omelet after omelet filled with the sort of fresh veggies and cheese you want in a yolk-infused breakfast envelope. Everybody chillaxing and talking about their Southby experiences thus far, bantering the news of the day – Lady Gaga … Doritos … celebrity sightings … new ringtone … yadda yadda – and me, welcomed into the midst of it as to a party at some friend's house.
[Note: Devin Desjarlais, the Omelet PR wizard who hooked me up with this gig in the first place, has a three-legged dog back in L.A., which she showed me a video of. Note: The Chronicle's got a three-legged dog, too, which allow me to show you the Facebook page of.]
And then, the stream of omelets having been vanquished, down the hatch, and the Jeni's people brought out samples of ice-cream sandwiches that were, well, they were a heavenly cross between typical ice-cream sandwiches and French macarons, with an exotic mix of flavors (raspberry and orchid, what?) along the lines of what Austin's own Lick purveys so damned well.
And then, time to wrap things up: Everybody's got stuff to do, people to see, social media to prime, more promotions to be disseminated, blogs to be updated. Did everybody get a bunch of swag? Omelet and Jeni's T-shirts? Coupons for ice cream? Business cards all around? Excellent.
And that was it. And, I mean, it was such a comfortable experience, y'know? Maybe, if I were Neal Pollack, I would've felt itchy about it, maybe even felt a Cottonelle-Lounge-level sort of repulsion, right?
But I like a well-made breakfast. And I like ice cream when it's as good as Jeni's. And I like when a company chooses to have their logo designed as an ambigram. And I'm pretty much an introvert, but that chattery gaggle of casually product-hyping kids wasn't the least bit overwhelming first thing in the morning.
So this is what I'm suggesting: If those pimptastic Omelet people come to SXSW again next year, and they're gonna be serving up breakfast, and you can grab a chance to have them tastefully invade your home? I say, go for it, friend. Make those tweets, cross your fingers, and go for it, even if you don't have a three-legged dog.