Just last week the Duck Confit with Utah Nectarines was a big hit on the menu. So too were the Beef Wellington and Lobster Club at the sumptuous French restaurant Vincent on Camelback.
The 35-year-old jewel of the Arizona culinary scene, which once served Julia Child in its charming dining room, took only two days to pivot from indoor dining to takeout service.
And while challenged by mandated shutdowns like most restaurants and hospitality businesses, Vincent on Camelback has kept flexible and nimble, meeting the challenges as they arrived.
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand’s blog Recipe for Success, Manager Leevon Guerithault offers insights on how the acclaimed restaurant of James Beard Award winning chef Vincent Guerithault, her husband and business partner. Together they have retained customers and staff while creating renowned French cuisine.
BB: How did Vincent’s handle the state closures?
LG: We converted immediately to a takeout business. Within two days, we had an online system available so people could go to our website, preview our take-out menu and place orders online for curbside pickup.
We’ve kept the menu interesting and fresh by introducing daily specials and themed events like a special Bastille Day Menu or a Julia Child themed menu celebrating her birthday.
BB: Were you able to retain staff?
LG: Yes, we have been fortunate to retain many of our staff members who have been with us for years. It hasn’t been easy though.
As an industry that relies so heavily on service, and with service disappearing overnight due to mandated closures, we’ve had to find new ways for our service staff to work in a business model that was brand new for everyone.
BB: Tell me about the reopening on June 2. How did it go?
LG: Phoenix is a very seasonal market, so we have slowly reopened with limited seating. Our customers have felt comfortable returning to our restaurant with enhanced safety protocols and for those who are not comfortable dining in, we have maintained our online takeout menu.
The warmer, summer months in Phoenix naturally brings about a slowdown in business, so the June 2nd reopening gave us the opportunity for everyone to get comfortable with these new safety protocols and learn how to adapt to a business model with social distancing measures in effect.
As we look to the next couple months when temperatures will begin to cool off, we’re preparing now for a season that will look very different from the other 35 years at Vincent’s.
BB: How have you stayed positive during this time?
LG: The support of our wonderful customers, many who order weekly or more and who generously support the staff who are working.
The famous chef of Vincent on Camelback was asked last year by Fabulous Arizona.com what his favorite quote was. His response: “Never, never, never give up.” And his advice to aspiring restauranteurs in the same article: “Be prepared to work hard, don’t take shortcuts, be honest and treat people with respect.” — Vincent on Camelback is a treasured Boxerbrand customer. They use Italian Ultra menu covers in their table presentation. Thank you!