Topic: State of the Industry/Trends
With the economy still in flux it is hard to say. I think that with a few exceptions, gone are the days of the ultra fine dining restaurant. Chefs and restaurant owners are realizing that if the spend less on China, glassware, silverware, linen, ect they can buy good ingredients and good cooks and focus on the heart of the matter. The economic downturn has brought people back into their kitchens but with a more responsible sense of what to feed themselves and their families. I couldn't have opened the Butcher & Larder a few years ago, but now people are excited by it
Good, honest cooking with quality ingredients works every time no matter what the trend/concept. A bullshit artist can ride a trend wave for a while, but nothing can last without strong fundamental cooking and attentive, knowledgeable service
Casual places often equal bad attitudes and off-putting aloofness from FOH, and confusion in the kitchen. If casual means low prices that's fine as long as low prices don't equal inferior product. I think casual is often mistaken for a concept. You can do quality at any level and price point as long as you have integrity, focus and sense of purpose
Q: Fine dining can be more than just white tablecloths and formalwear. What do you think the tricks are to crafting a fine dining restaurant with less of that high-end stigma?
The obvious things are the china and the presentation of the food. Fewer garnishes, less manipulated presentation throwing out the ring mold collection... The servers can be a little more relaxed and let their personalities out a bit as long as they can keep focused on solid fundamental service. The wine list has to match the menu in quality, but can be focused more on value than label appeal. Casual also makes room for a beer program