Beauty and the Feast

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Photo of the Grand Cafe in San Francisco.

When Iwas a boy Iused to love picking out the perfect outfit for my mom. Her purple pants-suit was my absolute favorite (I actually dressed up in it once – it was my first, and only, experience with drag!) Like most other gay men, I’ve always had an eye for style and beauty. Beauty is big business. And when it comes to restaurants – everything must be beautiful – the food, the room and the staff.

People eat with their eyes first. Food that looks good tastes better. Scientific studies have shown that people eat less when food is dyed uncomfortable colors – blue mashed potatoes anyone? Even if it tastes the same no one wants to eat food that looks unappetizing. Tell that to the bride-zillas of America! Chefs are artists and when they create gorgeous feasts – we ooh and ahh as we savor every bite.

And then there’s the restaurant itself. Before even touching the food, guests base expectations on what they see when they walk through the doors. Each piece of furniture or decorative art should come together and create a cohesive vibe that reinforces the overall concept and experience. If you are in the Grand Cafe in San Francisco, you should feel as if you have walking into a fabulous brasserie in Paris.

Settings should match service – a casual atmosphere sets the expectation for casual service and vice versa – white tablecloths and polished silver dictate that servers refill wine and water glasses more often and that everyone at the table be served in unison. One of my favorite examples of settings matching the experiences are the David Burke restaurants on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. David’s style and whimsy come through in every touch point.

Finally, restaurants need to remember that they are always judged by their cleanliness – from the menu paper, to the uniforms, right down to the restrooms. An unkempt restroom, like a guy with his shirt half-untucked or a gal with way too much make-up, is sloppy and unappealing. When guests experience this, they make the assumption that the kitchen is also a mess and the food will be unappetizing.

If beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholders, restaurants have a lot of beholders to please. Taste doesn’t always mean flavor – often, it means good judgment and a keen appreciation of style.

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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