TWO OF OUR BEST MAKE OPENTABLE’S TOP 100 LIST
Open Table published “100 Best Restaurants in America for a Big Night Out.” And well, we were ecstatic to see TWO of our esteemed clients named on this list. We have all read lists saying GO HERE and EAT THERE but we always think to ourselves “okay but who is going there and why are they qualified to tell me where to eat?” Finally, we have found a list that evokes validity because the choices are based on the reviews of millions. Open Table published a list highlighting 100 out of the 27,000 restaurants active on their platform based on analysis of over 12,000,000+ reviews submitted by site users. Yes, you read that right. OVER 12,000,000 reviews, ya’ll!
Protis Global partners with companies to reach their potential by facilitating growth and helping them build their organizations by cultivating talented teams for our clients. As our Hospitality Practice Leader, Mike Evers puts it, “I believe the biggest mistake in employment is hiring individuals over teams, the goal should be to build a team. Individuals have ideas; teams develop, evolve, and revolutionize them.” So, when we see clients highlighted on prestigious lists such as OpenTable’s Top 100, we get that warm and fuzzy feeling. We took that feeling and couldn’t resist reaching out to St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis, IN and Carmine’s in NYC to discuss their feelings on the list.
We’ve been fans of St. Elmo for many years…I mean we were based in the same city as them for the majority of Protis Global’s existence. Indianapolis was home to Protis Global for over 18 years and we spent a good deal of time at St. Elmo’s so we can personally vouch for its existence on this list. As a client, they also get it. They understand the value in finding the right individuals and then nurturing them once they are part of the St. Elmo family. They’ve also managed to create a very unique culture. While now a large entity their roots were and to some extent still are independent ones.
We spoke with Craig Huse from St. Elmo to get some insight into how it feels being on this list and what his insights are on how they got there. One of the things Craig said that stood out to us was,” You can’t fool people for over 116 years, you have to deliver. We just are who we are and we embrace it, hug it, and just try to magnify the special elements of a traditional steak house.” In our humble opinion, this is one of the reasons they are able to perform, they know exactly who they are and they focus wholeheartedly on it. In terms of their talent attraction and retention, we believe that has a big part to do with it. For example, once a year they have a huge dinner for team members that have been with them for over 20 years with all the best the restaurant offers. Let that sink in for a bit. Over. 20. Years. How many restaurants do you know would have enough individuals on their team to even offer such a dinner? It’s a testament to their ability to nurture a culture, which in turn nurtures their guests. Another special trait of St. Elmo is that while they are a large entity today, they started with very independent roots. The leadership team understands that as well, Craig stated it well saying, “I think the beauty of that is that you get to cherry pick the best from both worlds. You aren’t fully tied to either one so you get the opportunity to say, this is the best aspect of being a large entity and we are going to utilize and leverage those pieces and then doing the same for the independent aspects. It’s a unique advantage we’ve had and as long as we remain conscious of our independent roots we will have a leg up on everybody. A lot of times people fall into one side or whe other and they hold too strongly to the identity of being independent or too strongly to the idea of being a large entity and then you kind of miss being able to really make something special. It’s in blending and taking the best aspects of both where we see the magic happen.” Now that is how you grow and stay on top for 116 years! We still have some members of the Protis Team based out of Indianapolis, and it’s while writing this piece we get a little jealous of their ability to run over to get a bite or a drink at St. Elmo. Their wine and bourbon selection is also quite lovely. The best we’ve been able to manage here in Miami is getting their out of this world cocktail sauce for our company gatherings. If you haven’t tried it – you’re missing out. It’s a total game changer. Bit of advice though, try a little bit first before you go diving into a heap. It’s potent!
We also spoke with Randy Talbot from Alicart Restaurant Group about what he feels Carmine’s core values are that drove them to be on the list as well as the potential this list holds for one of the few thriving and flourishing, family-style restaurants. (If we’re lucky we will learn a secret or two in the process.) First things first, Carmine’s has been around for over 25 years and is a New York City staple. Upon our conversation something stood out to us… their passion for the experience of celebrating with people. They focus on the little things (although a big entity with multiple locations). A perfect example of this which most often is overlooked is their parmesan cheese. Yes, you read that right. It’s their cheese! Well it’s the detail that is exhibited in how they offer it. Most Italian restaurants these days (if they offer fresh parmesan cheese) offer their cheese via a hand cranked gadget that a server rations out per request. Well not at Carmine’s – they’ve made it a point to put fresh parmesan cheese on the table for each guest to enjoy as little or as much of. Now, you may think so what, but really, it’s these small details that stick. It’s these little efforts that tie to old world traditions that in the end weave together to leave you with a wonderful experience, one not many restaurants can replicate. While most restaurants are working to get people in and out within a set time frame (usually under 55 minutes), Carmine’s understands two major and important things. One, if you are taking your family, office or friends out to celebrate something it can be extremely difficult to find a restaurant that you can go and sit 15 – 20 people in. In most cases restaurants are set up in booths or comfortable seating that can’t really accommodate too much of that, but as Randy said, “For us, 15 – 25 is our wheelhouse, we’ll take those all day.” And they do, and they do so very well. And second, they understand, “Eating to celebrate as opposed to eating to survive. We don’t forget that when people come in groups, they want to be there for an hour and a half maybe two hours because they are there to celebrate. It’s part of our culture.”
Needless to say, our time chatting with both Craig and Randy was quite special. Our partnership with both St. Elmo and Alicart Group is something we here at Protis Global cherish, because well it’s always nice when you get to partner with other human beings who are passionate, understand what matters most and are badass at what they do. If you’re in Indianapolis or New York City soon… swing by and grab a bite tell them the Protis Global team sent you! You can make reservations via Open Table for St. Elmo here and/or Carmine’s here.