Make status: Restaurants are heading in a positive direction

click to enlarge Josh Wolkon at Vesta, which closed for good in 2020. - SECRET SAUCE

Josh Wolkon at Vesta, which closed for good in 2020.

Secret sauce

For Bites, our annual restaurant guide, we asked a handful of prominent restaurateurs to answer a questionnaire that looked back over the past nineteen months and into the future of the local dining room; you can read their answer here. Secret Sauces’ Josh Wolkon has experienced a lot of changes in his own company, after never reopening Vesta after the restaurant closure in March 2020 and rebuilding Steubens in Arvada into something of a commissioner’s kitchen; he preached the following:

Currently, business is booming at both Steubens and Es. We see good guest and we book many events.

But even though we are very happy to welcome back, we are not “back to normal”. This phase is not without problems – shortages of staff and supply chain, rising product and labor costs and an existing workforce that was pushed to their limits in 2020, to name a few – as we have gone from zero to literally 100 per cent in such a short time.

We have learned that we need to redefine what it means to work in restaurants if we want to attract and retain amazing people. Part of this is to incorporate more programs that encourage work-life balance and self-care into our wellness programs.

Before the pandemic, we were dealing with labor shortages and a mental crisis in the industry. The pandemic has only exacerbated these issues, and we must make a greater effort to redefine what it means to work in the industry if we are to continue to attract large numbers of people. Secret sauce. This is one of the reasons why we decided to focus our energy and efforts on our business in Uptown. At Ace and Steuben, employee salaries are higher and our benefits package is bigger than ever. While it is always a part of our culture, there is an even greater focus on wellness and mental health for our staff. We have equalized the salary scale for BOH and FOH employees, while at the same time achieving a balance between work and life as a chef or restaurant manager. I believe the industry must continue to find ways to attract a new generation of hospitality professionals who see value in the art of caring for others.

We also know that diners missed the full-service restaurant experience, and they will return with more knowledge of what it takes to run a full-service restaurant. Because many people cook at home, they come back a lot, even with a deeper culinary knowledge, which evokes an appreciation for shopping, preparation, execution, presentation and even cleaning that goes into a restaurant meal.

click to enlarge Peking duck, an essay specialty.  - MARK ANTONATION

Peking duck, an essay specialty.

Mark Antonation

It is also clear that the guests have missed human interaction and being in a social setting. Everyone is happy to be welcomed, to be served, to be engaged, to enjoy live music or a DJ, to eat hot food from real dishes and to drink from specialty glassware rather than from the takeaway packaging they learned so well known during pandemic.

We also see that the guests will directly support Steubens and Ace in a few ways. First, they order directly for pickup in relation to placing orders on third-party delivery apps. Second, as compassion for the ongoing challenges grows, visitors are more likely to provide feedback directly rather than posting their complaints on review sites. We all hope that the lack of the supply chain and the working side of the company will be resolved, but until then, the greater acceptance and patience from our team and from guests is an important part of our ongoing success.

It is our goal at Ace and Steuben to bring guests back to a happy place and a simpler time by offering a nostalgic and comforting dining experience. The memories of playing table tennis in your friend’s basement, your mother’s meatloaf, eating a lobster roll on the beach, or hanging around the fire with a hot cocktail in hand are all part of our collective effort to return to what’s real and what’s. questions.

There is a built-in demand and a desire for genuine, authentic, unique and memorable experiences that serve as a reinforcement for some of our values ​​when they relate to friends, family and communities that were rediscovered during the pandemic. While more challenging than ever, restaurants are heading in a positive direction.

Ace Eat Serve transforms into Peking Duck House on Tuesday, October 19, where each table will have a three-course dinner including Ace’s Peking duck, carved table side. The fee is $ 100 per. Duck (serves up to four guests); all proceeds from the evening will support the Denver Housing Authority’s Youth Employment Academy. Go-go options are available; Find out more here.


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