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Can you talk? I’m no Joan Rivers (I’m a bit younger and I’ve had less work done) but we can all agree that the Academy Awards is the most elegant night of the year. I’ve always had an eye for style and fashion to the point where I used to pick out outfits for my mother (yes I was a unique child). But when I decided to pursue a career in the restaurant industry my quest for style and the ultimate elegance was in no way over – in fact my search was just about to begin.

Yes, yes we’ve all been to those stuffy elegant restaurants – white tablecloths, gloved servers, silver cloches, monogrammed butter and perhaps the snooty maitre‘ds. We thought we were it – we were in the temples of food and we were loving them. Then we slowly started to notice – people were going from tailored to relaxed fits – and everyone still looked good and downright elegant but much more relaxed.This trend followed in restaurants – and casual but gorgeous restaurants came on the scene. Places like Sable in Chicago (the hot new gastro lounge) – where people are enjoying small and large plates for sharing mixed with great cocktails in a very dramatic space.Stuffy no! Elegant yes.

With the recession and changing dining patterns – elegance has been redefined and quite frankly – I like it. This isn’t to say that all four star restaurants are stuffy (they aren’t!), butin these daysof designer denimcasual elegance rules. And elegant means appropriate; how to present well and to always respond with grace and decorum. It means always giving guests a warm greeting, and accommodating their wishes – even if it falls outside your usual realm. It means making sure the restrooms are always adequately stocked and pristinely clean with fresh flowers and lots of hand towels.

Elegance can be conveyed via atmosphere – I love David Burke’s Fishtail – on the upper eastside of Manhattan – the room evokes a glamorous residential townhouse while maintaining a casual atmosphere with an unpretentious and fun menu. Elegance can be displayed via service;visitone of Danny Meyer’s restaurants,service is spot-on and exactingno matter the price point. Elegance comes through the kitchen, with a menu that is well thought outexhibiting a tailored touch -where focus rules and each dish is clearly designed to be appealing and delicious.Elegancemeans putting guests at ease, treating them well and always, always putting on a great show. We love restaurants that know how to make this work!

About The Author

Prior to opening Andrew Freeman & Co., a full service boutique consulting agency specializing in hospitality and restaurants in 2007, Andrew started his career working with several legendary New York venues including The Rainbow Room, The Russian Tea Room and Windows on The World. In addition to running the day to day marketing/public relations activities at these famed New York restaurants, Andrew was also responsible for the creation and management of their special events and catering departments. At all three venues, he also launched and then oversaw successful outside catering businesses. Andrew left New York in 1997 and departed for San Francisco to join Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. He spent ten years with Kimpton, launching over 40 hotels and restaurants as well as the global brand. For his first five years with the company, Andrew was first Director and then Vice President of Restaurant Sales and Marketing. In this role, he worked with the restaurant team on the creation, launch activities and marketing/public relations programs for the group’s chef driven restaurant concepts and private dining venues. He was then promoted to Vice President of Public Relations and Strategic Partnerships for both the hotel and restaurant divisions. In this role, Andrew was responsible for strategic development and execution of all public and media relations activities. During his tenure Andrew also spearheaded several programs with industry and community partners including Kimpton Cares, a social responsibility program and Kimpton Hotels LGBT travel program which has garnered numerous awards and positioned Kimpton as one of the Top Companies for LGBT employment. Andrew also contributed to the launch of Kimpton’s highly successful Women in Touch program which became the spring-board for their national partnership with Dress for Success, an organization which helps low-income women enter the workforce and excel in their new jobs. Today, Andrew Freeman & Co. is busy consulting hotel clients, Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, The Lodge at Sonoma, The River Terrace Inn, and Bay Area restaurant clients, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Barbacco, Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar, étoile at Domaine Chandon, ETO, Fifth Floor, Grand Café and Poggio. Andrew Freeman & Co. is also proud to be an intricate part of SF.Chefs.Food.Wine a food and wine event that celebrates the unique flavor, diversity and bounty of Northern California. The annual event incorporates tasting tents, classes, seminars and an array of activities while supporting local charities such as the San Francisco Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, The Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation and Project Open Hand. Andrew is honored to have also worked with JW Marriott/Marriott, Larkspur Hotels, Magnolia Bakery, Personality Hotels, the Palm Restaurant Group, and W Hotels. In 2009, Andrew Freeman & Co. launched a New York City office and is proudly serving clients including Pranna, Incentient and David Burke Restaurant Group. Andrew also works with a variety of clients on sales and service training, as well as concept development and operations refinement.

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