The first thing Adam Acerra learned when he opened a farm-to-table concept in Long Island was that he and his partners needed to keep it simple.
While true that the first plates created by head chef Chuck Treadwell in Market Bistro’s kitchen could rival fine dining anywhere, the customers flowing into the rustic bistro in Jericho, N.Y. wanted something a little more casual.
“And we listened to them,” he says. “Our menu was a little too elevated in the beginning and our clientele told us what they wanted to eat. And we set out to create that for them.”
Eight years later, Market Bistro has won praise from the New York Times for serving “inventive food” at a reasonable price point. And business is booming for Acerra and his partner, his former boss and owner of the West End Café in Carle Place, Long Island.
In this week’s Q&A with Boxerbrand blog Recipe for Success, Acerra gives us the straight scoop on making a successful restaurant near the Long Island Expressway.
Q: What’s your hospitality background?
I started as a bartender. I didn’t go to school, but instead began my career as a bartender working for my now business partner Bill Holden. I worked at the West End Café and also got bartending experience in California working at gastropub Father’s Office in Los Angeles and at Houston’s Restaurant in Santa Monica.
Q: How did Market Bistro come about?
Bill and I had been talking about opening a farm-to-table American bistro, because that’s where things have been going with food. People wanted fresher and locally sourced, when possible, and we wanted to provide that on a higher level.
Then we saw this spot in Jericho, Long Island come up for sale and it was perfect. It’s on a main road, close to the Long Island Expressway, and is in a huge shopping center with a Whole Foods. We thought having the market nearby would heighten awareness of our restaurant, and the area really needed a restaurant. The space we took over and renovated had been a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. When we got our hands on the place, we did a complete renovation, transforming it to gorgeous space that I describe as ‘barn meets city.’
Q: How did you attract your first customers?
At first, we ran off the laurels of Bill’s West End Café. And we hired an amazing chef Chuck Treadwell who’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His passion and vision for food really put us on the map and has kept us in demand for seven years.
Q: What do you mean by ‘everyday menu?
We’re a place where customers can come in on Tuesday, for example, for a burger, and come back on a Wednesday for fish. One of our most popular menu items is our amazing burgers, and we also sell a ton of our organic chicken. Though we have to pay attention to food trends, like the Paleo diet, and restrictions, like those eating gluten-free, we strive to deliver on a promise to serve consistently delicious food.
Q: What’s your secret to success?
My secret is you’ve got to get behind every meal every day and push it. People think this is such a romantic business, but it isn’t— it’s very difficult. Margins are tight and demands on time are high. In the end, you’ve got to love it. And a huge key is paying attention to your customers and listen to what they want. We have become one of the best restaurants in the area.— Market Bistro uses Boxerbrand menu cover line Linen Naturals in their table presentation. Thank you!