6 Restaurants to Visit During Dine Out Boston

Dine-Out-Boston-Logo-Final Over the next two weeks, Boston restaurants are giving guests the opportunity to enjoy exceptional dining at an exceptional price. That's right - Dine Out Boston is back! From March 1 - 6 and 8 - 13, local chefs have crafted special prix fixe menus to delight both longtime visitors and newcomers alike. Here are some of our favorites:

Bistro du Midi

272 Boylston Street, Boston bistro Executive Chef/Owner Robert Sisca perfects Provençal fare with fresh, local ingredients. Chef Sisca’s best dishes will be featured throughout Dine Out Boston’s entirety, and they are not to be missed. For just $38 per person, we’re ordering:
  • First Course: Hamachi Tartare, with heirloom radish, chicory root and plankton.
  • Second Course: Goat Cheese Gnocchi , with pistou, pine nuts and preserved lemon.
  • Third Course: Caramelized Bosc Pear Tart, with vanilla crème and pine nut ice cream.
See Full Menu Here >> Reservations are available from 5 - 11 p.m. Please call 617.426.7878 or make your reservation online here.  

BOKX 109 American Prime

Inside the Hotel Indigo, 399 Grove Street, Newton bokx109 To warm up your palate in this endless winter, Executive Chef Israel Medina has put together a four-course meal that will get your heart racing. For just $38 per person, we’re ordering:
  • First CourseArugula Salad, with dried fruit compote and goat cheese.
  • Second CourseCorn Chowder, with pickled chilies and fried mussels.
  • Third Course: Grilled Flat Iron, with baby carrots and chimichurri.
  • Fourth Course: Lavender Panna Cotta, with strawberry coulis.
See Full Menu Here >> Reservations for the dining room are offered from 5 – 10 p.m. Please call 617.454.3399 or make your reservation online here.  

Boston Chops

1375 Washington St, Boston 20130305_chops_560x375 Executive Chef/Owner Chris Coombs invites you to his South End urban steak bistro! For just $38 per person, we’re ordering:
  • First CourseCrispy Oxtail Croquettes, with red pepper mostarda.
  • Second Course8 oz Cast Iron Roasted Choice Club Eye NY Strip, with the Boston Chops House sauce, generous frites and seasonal greens.
  • Third: Sticky Toffee Pudding, with butterscotch sauce, fig crumb and rum raisin.
See Full Menu Here >> Reservations are available from 5 - 10 p.m. Please call 617.227.5011 or make your reservation online here.  

Chopps American Bar and Grill

Inside the Boston Marriott Burlington hotel, 1 Burlington Mall Road. chopps Executive Chef David Verdo has pulled out all the stops for this three-course tasting menu, featuring elevated takes on American classics For just $33 per person, we’re ordering:
  • First CourseBeets, with pistachio, goat cheese and mache.
  • Second Course: Arctic Char, with lardon, shaved brussels and champagne.
  • Third CoursePineapple Cake, with cherry, pineapple and vanilla.
See Full Menu Here >> For dinner reservations, please call 781.221.6643 or make your reservation online here.  

dbar

1236 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester. dbar Dorchester’s go-to destination offers up three courses to get your senses tingling. For just $33 per person (or $49 with wine pairings), we’re ordering:
  • First CourseValencia-style PEI Mussels, with saffron, pancetta, aromatic vegetables, tomato and fresh herbs.
  • Second CourseBeef Bourguignon, with burgundy wine braised short rib and bacon lardons.
  • Third CourseChocolate Adventure, with devil's food cake, dark chocolate mousse and chocolate crumble.
Full Menu Here >> The menu is available from 5 – 11:30 p.m. Please call 617.265.4490 or make your reservation online here.  

Papa Razzi

159 Newbury Street, Boston Papa-Razzi-al-fresco-dining Papa Razzi, an Italian eatery offering a sophisticated dining experience focused on fresh ingredients and unparalleled service, presents special pre fixe menus for both lunch and dinner. For just $33 per person, we’re ordering:
  • Appetizer: Braised Oxtail, with creamy polenta, pecorino and celery leaves.
  • Entree: Frutti di Mare, with littlenecks, mussels, shrimp, calamari and fluke in a tomato-seafood broth.
See Full Lunch Menu Here >> See Full Dinner Menu Here >> Papa Razzi Boston will be open from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Please call 617.536.9200 or make your reservation online here.   Where will you be dining out?

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#TheDress, Net Neutrality, Luxury Fitness Tracker, and National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend

451 Labs

Top Story: #TheDress -- White and Gold vs. Black and Blue

#TheDress   If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen that dress. What’s the deal? The dress first appeared on Tumblr with the caption, “guys please help me - is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the f--k out." Essentially, some see a black and blue dress, while others see a dress that is white and gold. Some see one combo at one time and later see the other. According to one poll on BuzzFeed, about three-quarters of respondents see white and gold. Business Insider put the dress to the test on Photoshop, where it could not be susceptible to variations in genetics or eye strength. Here is what they found: Photoshop The Dress Basically, one of the colors falls on the black/gold border and the other falls on the blue/white border. The Science Behind the Dress: It has to do with the way human eyes have evolved to see color. Wired explains:
Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors . . . Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object.
While the system usually works just fine, this image hits some sort of perceptual border. “What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.” So when context varies, so will the visual perception. On a white background, most people will see blue, but on a black background, some might see white.  One thing is for sure: it can drive a person crazy! Indeed, many were perplexed by the dress, which sparked a viral color debate and  storm of tweets: The 21-year-old singer, Caitlin McNeill who originally posted the photo told Business Insider, "I thought my followers on Tumblr would maybe have a good reaction, but I never would have considered that Taylor Swift and Mindy Kaling would be tweeting about it." Brands got a piece of the dress, too:     Tell us what colors you see!

Under the Radar: Net Neutrality

[caption id="attachment_11049" align="aligncenter" width="474" class=" "]Net Neutrality Photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images[/caption] The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote this week. The policy ensures “that no one – whether government or corporation – should control free open access to the Internet,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The topic is dense and can be confusing for even the most tech-savvy of us all. Basically, the FCC proposal is that the Internet will be classified as a public telecommunications utility, meaning the government can regulate it. This proposal also stipulates that Internet service providers are to be a neutral gateway, instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways and at varying costs—in other words, no fast lanes. How It Impacts Communicators
  • The government guarantees protection against fast lanes to give consumers access to reliable, fast Internet connection
  • Regulations for service providers indicate that the government is backing communicators against greedy service providers
  • Companies will be forced to prove that all new services comply with the law, impeding the speed and reliability of service providers having to deal with the FCC’s regulations
  • Regulations could challenge investment in new Internet technology and infrastructure
  • If the Internet becomes unreliable, communicators may be forced to ditch social media and real-time, and revisit traditional communications vehicles instead
Reactions: For and Against The ACLU's legislative counsel Gabe Rottman says:
"This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the Internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens' ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference. Title II provides the firmest possible foundation for such protections . . ."
Broadband for America, a group whose members include major Internet service providers is calling for Congress to intervene. Its honorary co-chairs John Sununu and Harold Ford Jr. say:
"The FCC's decision to impose obsolete telephone-era regulations on the high-speed Internet is one giant step backwards for America's broadband networks and everyone who depends upon them. These 'Title II' rules go far beyond protecting the Open Internet, launching a costly and destructive era of government micromanagement that will discourage private investment in new networks and slow down the breakneck innovation that is the soul of the Internet today."
A post written by Comcast executive vice president David Cohen reads:
“We fully embrace the open Internet principles that have been laid out by President Obama and Chairman Wheeler and that now have been adopted by the FCC. We just don’t believe statutory provisions designed for the telephone industry and adopted when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president should be stretched to govern the 21stcentury Internet.” 
Verizon issued a statement written in Morse code and titled “FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet.” In a translated version of Verizon’s statement, the company rebuked the FCC for deciding “to change the way the commercial Internet has operated since its creation.” Netflix said, "The net neutrality debate is about who picks winners and losers online: Internet service providers or consumers. Today, the FCC settled it: Consumers win.”  

Tool of the Week: Modaine’s Helvetica No. 1 Smart

Modaine No. 1 Smart   With spring break and summer vacations in the near future, this new fitness tracker watch reminds us to stay active! Modaine’s Helevetica No. 1 Smart fitness tracking watch is classically styled to appear like an ordinary watch. The watch ditches the touchscreen LCD display of other smartwatches and goes for a more traditional analog dial at the bottom of its face. Helvetica watch Although it is a little basic and you certainly can’t receive or send texts from your wrist, its classical form factor is hiding basic fitness and sleep tracking functionality. The watch tracks your daily level of activity and also connects and uploads your data to the accompanying app over Bluetooth to give you a more in-depth breakdown of your fitness metrics. Users can pinpoint where in their fitness routine they could be improving, or what factors may be preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep. Fitness Tracker Mondaine’s Helvetic No. 1 Smart, available in the fall, is being positioned as a fashion accessory over a fitness tracker, however, and will go for about $900 a pop – easily the most expensive fitness and sleep tracker wearable. But, as they say, you can’t put a price on style!  

Around the Hub: National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend

Girl Scouts Thin Mints The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts celebrate National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend Friday, Saturday and Sunday with cookie booths set up in more than 100 communities across the region. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Mass. have 28,000 members. You'll find Girl Scout cookie booths after school today from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at several Boston T stations, including Downtown Crossing, South Station, Back Bay Station, Copley Square, Kendall Square, Kenmore Square and Harvard Square. Check out the Cookie Locator here to find a full list of cookie booth locations in Eastern Mass. There's even a cookie locator app for your smart phone! gscHave you gotten your fix?  

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Meet the Marketer: Tyrone Pardue

Here’s an inside look into the individuals who fuel 451 Marketing’s award-winning integrated communications strategies. This month, we present  Tyrone Pardue, Director of Branding at 451 Marketing! _MG_9719

As industry veteran, having been in the branding and creative business for decades, how have you seen it change since you first started?

It’s very different. The industry didn’t change a lot between the 1950’s and 1990’s, but once personal computing took hold it changed very rapidly. People began doing a lot of their own brochures, ads and other creative that was once only done by professionals trained to do it. As such, the overall standard of creative work dropped a lot. The Internet caused a lot of design-dysfunction, too, at first. More recently, however, quality is beginning to turn around. The introduction of cloud services like Adobe’s Type Kit is helping improve typographic standards, and Google’s new Material Design guides will go a long way towards cleaning up all the unnecessary noise in web design.
It all comes down to attention to detail. That's what differentiates good from great work.

Prior to joining 451 Marketing, you established your own boutique agency back in your hometown of Dublin. How has working with international clients influenced your method?

Working internationally isn’t much different. A lot depends on the personal relationship with the client and what they expect from a creative specialist. As both a strategist and designer, I’ve learned to be flexible in my approach depending on client needs and expectations. You can’t work successfully with multiple clients in different industries with a one-size-fits-all approach.

What was your dream job as a child?

I wanted to be a fireman. I really liked their shiny red engines! I had a really cool little fire engine peddle car with ladders on the side, and a fireman’s helmet.

What’s something about you that would really surprise people to know?

I’ve practiced Karate and Jiujitsu for over 40 years! I train almost every day and mentor a group 12 black belts that have their own schools in the US and in Ireland. It’s keeps me grounded.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Learn quickly.

What have you found to be the biggest challenge in branding and creative?

Being original… there is just nothing that has not been done already in some way, shape or form.

Which brands do you admire for their branding and creative work?

My list seems to change almost weekly these days, but at the moment, I'm a big fan of Apple, Audi, Toms, London Transport, Vueling, and El Banco Deuno.

You’re a big proponent of listening to music while you work. How does it inspire you?

I’ve been told my music is sometimes too loud… haha. I use music in a couple of ways, one is to get in the zone when I need to write or do some creative thinking. For that I like classical or Jazz. I listen to Fauré, Debussy, Prokofiev, Mozart, Stan Getz. I am not adverse to some Gregorian chants either. If I want an energy boost I turn to rock or punk. I’ve got all The Clash, The Jam, Ramones etc. I saw lots of the original British punk bands live in Dublin. On the rock side I listen to the classics like Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and some of the newer bands like The Mescaleros, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Ryan Adams, The Killers, Kings of Leon etc. I do like some of the new stuff and have playlists with Banks, Selah Sue, James Blake, Lord Huron, Edward Sharp, and lots more. I use Spotify or Pandora for this stuff. For some mystic inspiration it has to be Van Morrison… an old favorite. Never tired of Astral Weeks. Check out his live performance of the whole album at the Hollywood Bowl in LA a couple of years back… outstanding.

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5 Key Steps to Mastering Local SEO

localseo Mobile searches aren’t always locally-focused, but when they are, they represent extremely low-funnel traffic – a study last year indicated that four out of every five local searches on a mobile device results in a conversion. What this means for marketers is obvious – you need to be optimized for local searches. But how? Here are some key steps to take: 

Optimize Directories 

optimizelocaldirectories

Be sure that your brand’s directory presence (yes, this includes social media) is optimized. Google My Business, Facebook, FourSquare, Yahoo, Bing, YP and Yelp are the big directories to focus on, but don’t stop there; valuable traffic can be earned from SuperPages, Best of the Web, CitySearch and Factual, as well as from industry-specific directories that may bring even lower-funnel traffic to your site. Make sure that each directory has your NAP (Name, Address, Phone) information and include your business hours, average product cost and any other relevant information. Don’t forget to use these pages to showcase photos or videos of your store, too!  

Optimize Location Pages 

optimizelocationpages

Make sure that your store location pages have location-optimized URLs – that is, URLs that include the name of the city, town or neighborhood where your store is located. These pages should also have NAP information and relevant multimedia, and additionally, be sure that each store page has a Google Map embedded in it.  

Earn Positive Reviews 

earnpositivereviews It might be common sense, but earning positive reviews takes effort from your sales, service, product development and marketing teams, so it’s no easy task! A four- or five-star rating on Yelp may drive more business than any sale or promotion that your company might be having, and that high rating will stick around long after the sale is over. If you’re struggling to earn positive reviews, be proactive about reaching out to those who haven’t had the best experience. It will take time, but the goodwill generated from strong customer service may result in updated reviews and even repeat business.  

Optimize Your Content 

If your company uses Webmaster Tools, you’ve got a great tool for crowd-sourcing content. The Search Queries report in Webmaster Tools gives you a firsthand look at the questions your audience is asking to get to your site. And if you really want to target mobile users, you can do so by segmenting that report by mobile users to find out what questions people are asking Siri, Cortana or Google to find your brand. Once you know what they’re looking for, you can use your content marketing team to create copy, infographics or videos that answer their questions and help them find you more easily!  

Use Your Tools 

Is your company about to open a new store, or maybe even enter a new market? Did you recently partner with a charity for a successful event (or are you about to)? Use social media and content marketing to promote these events – and do it months, not days, in advance. The homepage is also an undervalued tool when it comes to promoting brand growth – don’t hesitate to use your homepage to spread the news about your expansion or great deeds!   inconclusion  Local SEO is hard. It’s the crossroads of development, reputation management, customer service, content and SEO, meaning that many of your team members will have to work hard to ensure that your brand wins in local search. As more and more of us go mobile, winning local search means winning more customers, and who doesn’t want that?  

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Walmart Increases Hourly Wage, ‘Retweeted More,’ Apple Gets Sued, and Snow Costs Boston Billions

451 Labs

Top Story: Wal-Mart to Increase Hourly Wage

[caption id="attachment_11023" align="aligncenter" width="534"]Photo by Darren Hauck: Getty Images Photo by Darren Hauck: Getty Images[/caption] Walmart, the focus of protest by workers and labor advocates, is spending $1 billion to increase hourly wages for its U.S. store associates to more than $9 per hour, or higher, beginning in April. The increase is $1.75 above the federal minimum wage. That decision will affect 500,000 full and part-time U.S. employees. Wal-Mart said by February of next year, all current U.S. associates would make $10 an hour or more. The company also plans to develop a training program to give entry-level employees a better chance for promotion and career advancement. This is a huge step for raising the minimum wage as a whole, which has been of growing concern, launching a number of protests nationwide for higher pay, better hours and benefits. Amy Glasmeier, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studies wages, points out that there is a gap between a minimum wage and a living wage -- the cost of paying the most basic, necessary bills. Glasmeier found that a living wage could range between $12 and $25 an hour, based on where a person lives. While there is still a ways to go, this is certainly a step in the right direction, and by one of the most notorious companies for low-wage workers, nonetheless.  

Tool of the Week: Retweeted More

What if you could predict the popularity of your next tweet? A new tool backed by Google may be getting there. Researchers at Cornell University, backed by the National Science Foundation and Google, developed an algorithm that examined the sentence construction, keywords and other elements that make up a tweet to see which factors make one tweet more popular than another. They used their findings to create “Retweeted More,” the online tool that that allows you to create alternate versions of your tweet to see which one is likely to be more popular. TwitterRetweetMoreTool The study found that politely asking followers to retweet goes a long way. Including the words "please," "pls," "plz" and "retweet" topped the list of factors that make up a successful tweet. This proposes a huge opportunity for marketers and digital communicators who can take advantage of knowing whether their next tweet will be popular.  

Under the Radar: Apple Gets Sued

Apple Sued Electric car battery maker A123 System Inc. is suing Apple over allegations that the tech company poached five of its battery experts to help set up a large-scale battery division. The battery maker claims that these hires violated their employment agreements meant to prevent them from joining competing companies. Apple has been pursuing “an aggressive campaign to poach employees of A123 and to otherwise raid A123’s business,” the company wrote in its filing. "Apple is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123," the lawsuit read.The suit was reported earlier by legal website law360.com. The A123 suit has obtained much attention because the five missing employees were reportedly working on automotive batteries, adding fuel to the rumor that Apple has been developing an electric car in secret and has several hundred employees working on the project.   

Around the Hub: Snow Costs Boston Billions

Boston Snow Blizzard Boston has endured multiple blizzards this winter, keeping people in their homes and away from the city’s businesses. Reports say the snow could cost the state's businesses billions, slowing economic growth. Michael Goodman, an economist at UMass Dartmouth, said recent weather could account for several billion dollars of losses in the state's roughly $460 to $470 billion economy, potentially slowing economic growth in the first quarter even as other economic markers are promising. With the transit service “far below” normal levels as snow-removal crews attempt to recover from the storms, there have been only minor improvements. The commuter rail remains on a modified schedule, causing delays, cancellations, and many frustrated commuters. With a “potential significant storm coming next weekend,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh urged Boston residents to remain calm and asked for patience as snowplows work to clear snow-narrowed streets.

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