What is in this article?:
- MUFSO 2012: Melman Award winner Joachim Splichal shares strategies at MUFSO
- Overcoming challenges, developing talent
Patina Restaurant Group founder joined Richard Melman, other restaurant executives to discuss best practices, celebrate
This is part of Restaurant Hospitality's special coverage of the 2012
“It’s taste over trend. Good food never goes out of style.”
That’s how Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises founder Richard Melman answers those who ask his secret to opening successful restaurants, and it became a running theme at an event Sunday that combined up-and-coming Hot Concept winners with industry veterans on the opening day of MUFSO.
Melman, whose Chicago-based company operates about 80 restaurants around the country, presented this year’s Richard Melman Innovator of the Year Award to renowned Los Angeles chef and restaurateur Joachim Splichal, founder of the Patina Restaurant Group. The award is presented by Restaurant Hospitality magazine to honor outstanding restaurateurs.
Both Melman and Splichal joined the panel, sponsored by e*Restaurant from Alametrics, that also featured the four Hot Concept Award winners selected by Nation’s Restaurant News, including Coolhaus, Del Frisco’s Grille, Pie Five Pizza Co., and Stacked: Food Well Built.
Natasha Case, chief executive of Coolhaus, was the first Hot Concepts winner that is known primarily as a food truck, though the concept also has a brick-and-mortar location in Los Angeles, with a second soon to come in Pasadena. The ice cream sandwich brand is also growing in retail and grocery stores.
Coolhaus is known for its unique flavors, such as fried chicken and waffle ice cream or a “sushi sandwich” made with wasabi ice cream and ginger cookies.
The brand has 11 trucks in multiple cities, and Case said the “integrated collaboration” of the truck, brick-and-mortar and retail parts of the business has helped fuel brand awareness and improve operations.
Social media has also become an important tool, Case said. Not only can Case follow what’s going on day-to-day on the trucks based on customer Tweets, for example, but the company is working to build brand loyalty by making fans feel part of a community.
The business of pleasing people
Mark Mednansky, chief executive of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group based in Southlake, Texas, said the new Del Frisco’s Grille concept attempts to offer something new and more approachable for fans of the company’s core Double Eagle Steakhouse and Sullivan’s brands.