Twenty-three-year-old Lauren Hom has a simple business model: “What I write is what you pay.”
The Crown Heights, Brooklyn, resident and professional hand letterer is the founder of Will Letter For Lunch, a project she started in late March where she writes a restaurant’s daily specials in pretty lettering on a chalkboard in exchange for eating whatever those specials are, which she then documents on her blog.
“Ninety-nine percent of restaurants have a sandwich board outside or a chalkboard menu inside with the specials for the day or the week,” Hom explains. “It’s always written out in some hostess’ handwriting, and I thought I could make them look so much more appetizing. How a dish is written out is how you imagine it tastes.” (We’re thinking messy handwriting says something like not so delicious…)
Hom, who’s originally from Southern California, has a design degree from the School of Visual Arts and a full-time gig hand lettering for advertising and editorial clients, but two days a week, she works on Will Letter for Lunch.
“It started through handing out fliers in Crown Heights and Prospect Heights,” she says. “Now I get emails through word-of-mouth.”
It’s likely you’ve eaten some of her work: Hom has lettered for indie healthy restaurants such as Nourish Kitchen and Table in the West Village and Crown Height’s new Mountain Apothecary Kitchen—and big-name places with plenty of healthy options, like John DeLucie’s The Lion.
“I’ve definitely written quinoa and kale salad a number of times,” she says, and some of her favorite healthy dishes have included a smashed curried chickpea sandwich from Mountain and an egg sandwich with avocado from Nourish Kitchen and Table. Funny enough, since Hom is a vegetarian, she can’t always eat what’s on the menu.”I’ll bring friends, and they love it,” she says. “Who doesn’t want to eat for free?”
Of course, it isn’t all healthy. “I write a lot of happy hour specials,” she laughs. “So there’s definitely been lots of cocktails.”
Despite all of the amazing food (and drink) she’s gotten access to, it’s the project’s ability to influence behaviors around food that fuels her most. “Once I finish the menu, it makes such a difference,” she says proudly. “Restaurants will tell me they can see the change in how a customer views the menu—design and meals have a very interconnected relationship.” That’s certainly food for thought. —Jamie McKillop
For more information, visit www.willletterforlunch.com