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Thomas Keller Partners with BMW
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From Lisa Jennings, Nations Restaurant News: Diners at The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., will be able to catch a free ride to and from dinner in a BMW ActiveHybrid 7 as part of a new partnership between the luxury car maker and chef Thomas Keller.

BMW officials said the partnership was designed to introduce the new high-end vehicle — priced around $107,000 — to guests of The French Laundry, who fit the car maker’s target market.

Stacy Morris, a spokeswoman for BMW of North America, said the brand alignment was a natural, given that “fine dining is the No. 1 interest of their customers, and The French Laundry is one of the best restaurants in the world.”

BMW has offered a similar concierge service to various luxury hotels, she said, but this the first time it has been done for a restaurant.

Under the partnership, one of the hybrid vehicles will be made available to The French Laundry to pick up or drive home guests. The car will be offered on a limited basis, as available.

Keller revealed the partnership Wednesday after playing in a BMW Championship Pro-Am Tournament, which pairs professional golfers with amateur players. The tournament was held at the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill.

On Thursday night, following the broader announcement of the service, The French Laundry also offered a “BMW-inspired” dish on the menu: a Four Story Hill Farm apple-fed pork loin with bratwurst, braised red cabbage, apple dumplings and grain mustard sauce — designed to evoke the car brand’s “Bavarian roots.”

“As a BMW owner for more than 32 years, I’ve always appreciated the brand’s attention to precision and detail because my very first vehicle was a BMW 320i,” Keller said in a statement. “At The French Laundry, we’re always seeking out ways to heighten our guests’ experience, and so I am delighted to be able to work with BMW to establish a concierge car for the restaurant, for those guests that wish to add a new element to their dining experience with us.”

Morris said the partnership was “open ended,” and that the car company would explore further partnerships with Keller, possibly including his other restaurants.

In addition to The French Laundry, the Thomas Keller Group's restaurants include Per Se in New York; Bouchon in Yountville, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills, Calif.; Bouchon Bakery in Yountville, Las Vegas and New York; and Ad Hoc in Yountville.

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