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PRICELESS_Lyaness1-720x480.jpg Noah Fecks

Mastercard goes all-in on new sponsored restaurant

It's all about a ‘Priceless’ experience

The relationship between restaurants and brands is rapidly evolving, and the latest example is Priceless, from Mastercard, which opens in New York City this week.

It was only a matter of time before brands with little association with meals or with physical locations began to tap into the trend. Priceless and restaurants like it are being dubbed "sponsored restaurants."

Mastercard is billing Priceless as an "experience" that "will recreate immersive, multi-sensory experiences from world-renowned chefs and mixologists who are driving what's next in dining and cocktails."

That's a lot of experience, but that seems to be what customers are craving these days.

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Customers can already order a meal served on Crate&Barrel china at Table, the company's new Chicago-area restaurant. They can sip on a decent latte at one the Capital One's cafes or try a cocktail with a side of car dealership at Intersect by Lexus, in New York City, operated by Union Square Hospitality Group. What about a scoop from Scoops Ahoy? Netflix and Baskin-Robbins partnered to create a pop-up replica of the ice-cream parlor from the show Stranger Things.

"With Priceless, we are reinventing experiential dining to create a feast for all your senses by completely immersing you in the environment of these world-renowned locales," said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard, in a statement.

"Priceless will serve as an ongoing destination for an exciting roster of restaurants and bars, where our cardholders can fuel their passion for food and create unforgettable moments. We're excited to have The Rock, Teruzushi and Lyaness to be the first culinary destinations to take up residency."

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The Rock, Lyaness and Teruzushi are restaurants that many consumers could only dream of witnessing in real life.

The Rock a restaurant off the coast of Zanzibar, for example is, only accessible by foot during low tide and by boat when the tide rises. For the Priceless recreation of the Rock, Mastercard has brought in some of the outdoor elements like the smell of the ocean air, according to the company’s statement. The Lyaness at Priceless is an exact replica of the original London cocktail bar. And for the Priceless version of Teruzushi, chef Takayoshi Watanabe is closing up shop in Japan to bring his "sushi theatre" to Manhattan.

"Teruzushi was established around the premise that we provide an experience you can only have in our restaurant," said chef Watanabe, in a statement. "In order to bring that here to Priceless we literally closed our doors in Kitakyushu and headed here to New York with our full staff in tow to ensure we could deliver on that promise and bring the tradition of Kyushu sushi to life for guests through dishes that stimulate the five senses."

On the rooftop, the company is celebrating a local chef. The Global Market will serve small plates and cocktails from chef JJ Johnson, a James Beard winner who recently opened fast-casual rice spot, FieldTrip in Harlem.

"It's been a tremendous opportunity to partner with Mastercard who is focused on continually creating new and unique culinary experiences that foster that communal spirit," said Johnson in a statement. "Priceless takes that to an entirely new level, delivering sensorial dining while enabling guests to travel from the rooftop Global Market to the middle of the Indian Ocean, and from London to Japan."

Contact Gloria Dawson at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @GloriaDawson

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