Everyone’s a critic in the world of food service. Or a hobby chef. Or a foodie.
Keeping those sophisticated, even somewhat demanding taste buds happy, is what inspires Peter Raimondi to lead the charge to provide great food and service at eight hotels within hospitality industry leader, Highgate.
As the Complex Director of Food & Beverage at Park Central Hotel, the buck stops with Raimondi for every bar, restaurant, and in-room dining experience at locales from New York and New Jersey to Miami.
In this week’s Recipe for Success @ Boxerbrand, Raimondi takes a few minutes to discuss the challenges and approach to satisfying all those diners.
Q: What’s your secret to success in food service?
I would say that service accounts for 70 percent of a guest’s experience. Beyond the food, which has to be good of course, is the extra attention that blows away a guest. We keep notes on our VIP guests, so we know what they’re preferences are, and our chef makes a point to come out, speak with guests, touch everyone’s table, and it’s amazing how that helps. The way a guest is treated is what makes a client rate you highly on social media, in forums like Yelp.
Q: How do you manage your menu?
I have a couple of secrets. First of all, I stick to the basics. I’m a meat-and-potatoes person myself, and a little old-fashioned. I believe in sticking to what we know. We’re not looking to be cutting edge or super progressive. But, we’re also dedicated to keeping everything super fresh and very consistent.
For our dishes we have one recipe and the dish will remain consistent even if you have a different chef.
Our menu varies from hotel to hotel. We have a hotel on the beach on Long Island, and it’s very seafood oriented. We have four hotels in the Miami area, and that has more of Cuban influence. And our Manhattan hotels, including Park Central Hotel, the one we just got your menu covers for, offers a more continental fare.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you face?
Probably the biggest challenge is the labor. A lot of hotels are unionized, so we have higher labor costs, and restrictions on the specific jobs employees can do. It makes it more challenging, but we overcome it by building positive relationships with the staff and unions.
Q: How did you get into this line of work?
My family was in the restaurant business, and I started as a kid washing dishes. Then I worked my way up to server, and worked in restaurants for 10 years before transitioning into hotels. It’s hard work, but it’s a great living. I work for a great company and I can’t complain.
Q: What wisdom would you offer someone entering the food-service industry?
I would say that it’s a field filled with opinions. Everyone eats. And everyone’s a critic. Now, with social media, the cooking shows, and people doing this as a hobby, it changes the dynamic of food service. Someone who’s paying $125 for a meal really needs to feel it’s worth it. This is why service is so important. Clients need to get a little something extra, and time and again I’ve found that the clients that get amazing service will be absolutely blown away by the whole experience, and will give you the highest ratings. — Park Central Hotel uses Boxerbrand menu cover products in its table presentation. Thank you!