FE&S' 2003 Tabletop Awards competition attracted a record number of entries of extremely high quality, resulting in our panel of judges naming winners in all five categories, as well as four additional honorable mention designations, for a total of nine awards. Last year's contest resulted in seven awards in four categories while, in the 2001 competition, only three entries in two categories were found to be worthy of top honors. In addition, this year we instituted some changes within the categories, including dividing independent restaurants with check averages less than $30 and greater than $30 versus the $40 demarcation used in prior years. What's more, the multi-unit restaurant category was eliminated for '03, and replaced by one recognizing dining operations at clubs and resorts.
For the third straight year, dealer S.S. Kemp & Co. of Cleveland submitted the winning entries in two categories (Jennings Center in on-site foodservice and University of Akron in the catering/banquet category). Edward Don & Co., N. Riverside, Ill., again earned multiple awards, winning with Sunset Sam's (in the $30-plus restaurant check average category), as well as earning an honorable mention for Grotto on State in this category. Dealer Ford Hotel Supply, St. Louis, a runner-up in 2002, had a winning entry with Bandana's Bar-B-Q in the $30-and-under restaurant grouping, while Benchmark Equipment Co., Houston, had its first winner with Stillwaters at Stonewall Resort in the club/resort category.
Honorable mention honors also went to Singer Equipment Co., Reading, Pa., (for Kildare's Irish Pub); Angland, Castle & Associates, Issaquah, Wash., (for Tucci Restaurant); and The Boelter Companies, Milwaukee, (for The Hyatt Lodge).
Award winner: Bandana's Bar-B-Q, St. Louis, Mo.
Restaurant with per-person check average $30 or less
Specifiers: Donna Jones, Ford Hotel Supply Co.; Rick White, COO
Dinnerware: Carlisle café platter; American Metalware pie pans
Flatware: World Tableware Winner
Glassware: Libbey logo pub glass
Accessories: Carlisle oval basket, sugar caddy; Libbey salt & pepper shaker; Traex logo squeeze bottle
Melamine dinnerware, aluminum pie plates used as side dishes and plumbing pipes don't seem like compatible components of an award-winning tabletop design but that is what has been achieved at Bandana's Bar-B-Q, a chain of 14 units based almost exclusively in the St. Louis area.
This family-owned operation was formed by David Seitz in 1996 after he left his job as foodservice director at Principia College, a small, private institution. Doing their own smoking (the restaurant's advertising tag line is "Smell the Smoke") on-site, staff prepare barbecued items "Southern style," meaning they are served "sauceless" and customers are given four homemade sauces to choose from. A secret of the operation's success, according to Rick White, Bandana's COO, is that ribs and other products are cut to order and pulled out of the smoker just prior to serving.
Typical décor items found in Bandana's restaurants include everything from antique farm tools and wheelbarrows on the front lawn to the bandana-themed interior that features old rakes hung on corrugated tin and brick walls, bandana-backed stools and chairs with black wrought-iron backs, and inverted galvanized wash tubs used as fixtures for the ceiling lights. The innovative tabletop design, supplied by Donna Jones of Food Hotel Supply, showed a tremendous degree of originality while still staying within Bandana's modest budget. Carlisle's 160 blue oval café platter serves as Bandana's "inspiration piece" and is coupled with American Metalcraft 70 pie plates, 180 aluminum pizza pans used to present family-sized orders, and bright-red oval bread baskets.
Eye-catching custom-designed elevated stands with bases constructed of six horseshoes welded together, and paper towel holders consisting of galvanized-steel pipe with a T-joint mounted on a wood block, complete this outstanding tabletop design.
Honorable Mention: TUCCI's, Lake Oswego, Ore.
Restaurant with per-person check average $30 or less
Specifiers: Jerry Angland, Angland Castle & Associates; Suzanne Reagan, Owner
Chinaware: Steelite Naturals
Flatware: Corby Hall Miami
Glassware: Jacman Co. goblet
Accessories: Milliken napkins; Deruda custom salt dish; Mamma Ro' oil & vinegar
Until recently, Suzanne Reagan was a stay-at-home mother facing an empty nest and seeking a new challenge. Reagan's husband, David, an oncologist, supported her in opening this upscale Italian restaurant in an "old money" community in Lake Oswego outside of Portland, Ore. The inspiration for Tucci can be traced to Ms. Reagan's grandmother, whose name was Mateucci (but was called Nona Tucci by her grandchildren) and who spent 52 years as a server in Portland's Lido restaurant, which burned to the ground years ago, with only the sign remaining. This sign now hangs in the new restaurant.
Tucci's, which opened in December 2002, is very much a family affair and is run by the Reagan's son, Greg. According to Ms. Reagan, the owners' lack of experience was a plus. One example of this is the fact that they ran an ad in the local paper and "lucked out" in finding a talented French chef who had just relocated from San Francisco. With the help of Jerry Angland of Angland, Castle & Associates, a rep firm located in the Seattle area and specializing in tabletop products, they were seeking tabletop components that were both fun and unique and yet suited their casual, yet elegant, dining theme.
Tucci's chef plates most of his items on Steelite's Naturals pattern dinnerware and said that he liked the heat retention and the way the border framed his food. As Angland described it, "Tucci's flatware, Corby Hall's Miami pattern, was an instant winner because of its eclectic design and sandblasted finish." It was also consistent with their desire to have European-sized pieces and heavy weight. The glassware, with goblets in three earth-toned colors, was hand-blown for Tucci's in Mexico.
Honorable Mention: Kildare's Irish Pub & Restaurant, West Chester, Pa.
Restaurant with per-person check average $30 or less
Specifiers: Walt Huzar, Singer Equipment Co.; Dave Magrogan, President and CEO
Chinaware: Syracuse Strawberry Hill
Flatware: World Tableware Slate
Glassware: Libbey Citation stemware; Libbey logo pub glass
Accessories: Syracuse creamer, condiment set
Authenticity is the watchword at this award-winning pub in West Chester, Pa. Dave Magrogan, its president and CEO, related that every effort was made to ensure that the décor, food and service were all authentically Irish. For example, all design elements were imported from Ireland, including the 110-year-old bar, which was formerly used at the Tack Room in County Wexford.
The owners even hired the Irish Pub Co. to build their restaurant, had the menu designed in Ireland and brought over Irish restaurant staff to train their employees.
Housed in a historic 100-year-old row house, the rear dining room was designed as an Irish cottage and the front as a traditional Irish shop where, according to Magrogan, a farmer could pick up his provisions while also grabbing a pint of stout. One entire side of this row is a replica of a Dublin pub.
With the help of Walt Huzar of Singer Equipment Co., Magrogan selected Syracuse's Strawberry Hill china, since he felt its design accurately reflected the ambiance of an Irish cottage. Slate pattern flatware by World Tableware and glassware by Libbey, with custom-logo'd side plates, mix glasses and place mats add further distinction to this tabletop design.
Award winner: SUNSET SAM'S Fish Camp, Kissimmee, Fla.
Restaurant with per-person check average $30 or above
Specifiers: Joe Palumbo, Edward Don & Co.; Brenda Geoghagen, Senior Director of Interior Design
Chinaware: Steelite Carnival
Flatware: Bon Chef Chambers
Glassware: Cardinal Cabernet stemware; Schott-Zwiesel Ten Degree cocktail; Orion "bird-bath" margarita
Accessories: Bon Chef sugar packet holder, creamer
Offering "a fun and unique dining experience" was the goal of Gaylord Entertainment when its personnel created Sunset Sam's Fish Camp, our award winner in the independent restaurant (more than $30 check average) category, within the company's 1,409-room Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla., in February 2002. This resort includes three major atriums in which several geographic regions of Florida (the Everglades, Key West and St. Augustine) areas are highlighted.
According to Brenda Geoghagen, senior director of Interior Design for Gaylord, the 275-seat Sunset Sam's (180 seats inside as well as 95 on a deck) is located off the Key West Atrium and has a boathouse faÃ§ade of weathered pastel blues and yellows that suggest the casual buildings that are common in the Key West area. The restaurant is also surrounded by a boardwalk and, close by, a 60-foot sailboat is set into the water, allowing it to serve as a beacon for the property and house the restaurant's oyster bar.
Sunset Sam's interior is an eclectic mix of the vibrant colors found in the Florida Keys, stretched sailcloth and painted beadboard ceilings. Flooring throughout is provided by a stained concrete slab that features imprints of local birds. A 20-foot-long wall of antique buoys reinforces the facility's nautical theme, while casual teak furniture and booths provide a boat deck-like appearance.
The multi-colored palette of the exterior and interior décor theme is also carried through by the tabletop design. Working with the assistance of Edward Don's DSR Joe Palumbo, Geoghagen felt that Steelite's Carnival pattern with items in sunflower yellow, sapphire blue, fern green and coral colors and in varied shapes including starpoints, scallops, triangles and rounds, was perfect to carry out her theme. Glassware, also carefully selected to enhance the restaurant's ambiance, includes 10-degree angled cocktail glasses by Schott-Zwiesel that are designed to suggest the rocking of a boat, and Orion's handmade Mexican "bird-bath" signature margarita glass in 24-oz. and 38-oz. capacities, with the latter also being used for dessert items. Cabernet stemware by Cardinal International is used for wine service, while Bon Chef was the choice for its Chambers pattern flatware, as well as for table accessories.
Honorable Mention: GROTTO on State, Chicago, Ill.
Restaurant with per-person check average $30 or above
Specifiers: Paul Weaver, Edward Don & Co.; Dee Criditio, Owner
Chinaware: Steelite Bambu
Flatware: Walco Soprano
Glassware: Cardinal Excalibur and Cabernet
Accessories: World Tableware creamer, sugar, insulated server; Service Ideas Alfi bread baskets; Steelite Union Square candle lamp
Creating a "serene, tropical Caribbean" atmosphere for a fine dining Italian steakhouse in the heart of a major city may seem like a daunting task. But for Dee Criditio, co-owner of the Grotto on State with her husband, Joe, the goal was to bring an atrium, which is located adjacent to the restaurant's entrance in a high-rise residential building in the "concrete jungle" of Chicago's Gold Coast, into the restaurant. Ms. Criditio, who spent 20 years in the motion picture industry and is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, did a "total gut job" to the super-modern décor of a prior restaurant, which took place over five months before this operation's February opening. The design of both the restaurant and bar incorporates palm fronds, lighted wall sculptures and sconces with fresh greenery and ferns filling the center of the space and expressing its intended Caribbean theme.
With the assistance of Edward Don's DSR Paul Weaver and marketing rep Larry Page, Ms. Criditio instantly fell in love with the tropical motif of Steelite's Bambu china pattern that she combined with bamboo-handled Soprano flatware by Walco. The color of the paint on the walls and the custom-dyed linens exactly match the hue of the green leaf on the dinnerware. World Tableware creamers, sugars and servers, and Steelite's Union Street glass table lamps completed this award-winning tabletop in the $30-plus check category.
Award Winner: JENNINGS CENTER for Older Adults, Garfield Heights, Ohio
Specifiers: Tricia Lindbloom, S.S. Kemp & Co.; Donna McClanahan, Director of Hospitality Services
Chinaware: Oneida/Noritake Motive
Flatware: Oneida HallmarkGlassware: Oneida Treva
Accessories: Oneida Nobless bread basket, sugar packet holder; Sant' Andrea Opera coffee pots, sugar bowls, creamers; Artex table linens, napkins; Lancaster Colony salt & pepper shakers
Jenning's Director of Hospitality Services Donna McClanahan said that she and colleagues designed the tabletop at Jennings Center for Older Adults in Garfield Heights, Ohio, to provide their assisted-living residents with a dining experience that nightly is reminiscent of an elegant family-prepared Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. To foster familiarity in the dining facility, Jennings' residents are encouraged to bring their own family place settings for display in two china cabinets positioned outside this facility's dining room.
The winner in the on-site foodservice category, Jennings Center began as a nursing home in 1942 but, in 1995, a state-of-the-art nursing facility was built on its campus to provide long- and short-term nursing care, rehabilitation and independent senior housing, as well as adult day services, respite care and a wellness center. Jennings' management expanded this building in January 2003 to include a dining facility designed to provide its guests with a "fine dining" experience. The goal for administrators was to "reinvent," as well as rebuild the facility and make it a place to gather, socialize, entertain and, on occasion, be entertained.
The new tabletop items were carefully selected to ensure ease of use by Jennings' elderly patrons. The china, Oneida/Noritake's Motive pattern, for example, has a dark trim band that defines the perimeter of the plates.
Likewise, a squat-shaped coffee cup with a large finger hole and Oneida's Treva glass tumblers that are tapered to make holding easier (traditional stemware was avoided) were selected in an attempt to combine beauty and utility. Finally, the Opera accessory hollowware by Sant' Andrea, Hallmark pattern flatware by Oneida and ivory damask and deep green table linens by Artex both complement each other and serve to form an elegant appearance in this award-winning tabletop design.
Award Winner: University of Akron, Akron, Ohio
Specifiers: Bob Butler, Ann Ladd, S.S. Kemp & Co.; Elvis Bond & Zia Ahmed, Director and Assistant Director of Foodservice
Chinaware: Steelite Venitia
Flatware: Bon Chef Florence
Glassware: Cardinal Excalibur stemware
Accessories: Tablecraft bread basket, salt & pepper shaker; Steelite creamer, bouillon cup
The 2003 winner in the catering/banquet category was the student union at the University of Akron (Ohio), which opened an 800-person, state-of-the-art banquet facility this past January to focus on attracting on-campus high-end functions. This facility has also been successful at handling numerous upscale on- and off-site catering events from the community at large. According to Elvis Bond and Zia Ahmed, director and assistant director of foodservices, while phase one (housing for conferences, weddings, etc.) has been open here since January, a second phase encompassing break-out and meeting rooms is currently under construction. Both program operators voiced enthusiastic compliments for their supplier, S.S. Kemp & Co., and, particularly, Ann Ladd, their tabletop specialist who reportedly went the extra mile before presenting the products that comprised this award-garnering tabletop.
Ladd said that she, along with DSR Bob Butler, had been working with client-personnel for more than a year and had selected four different table settings for their perusal. After seeing the first, the operators concluded that it was perfect and that they didn't need to go further. Ladd added that Steelite's triangular-shaped plate (not pictured) "sold itself" due to the versatility that allowed it to be used as a part of all meal services. The client also wanted a simple, yet elegant tabletop look that was not flashy and didn't compete with the food. This desire was fulfilled, and thanks in part to the durability of Steelite's embossed Venitia pattern on Alvo shape. The European-sized Florence pattern by Bon Chef and Excalibur stemware by Cardinal International round out the setting.
Product price was also a factor in this tabletop design, due to the fact that the client wanted to make the service affordable for use at a wide variety of events. The operators feel that their elegant table service has been a major factor in their recently winning three major catering contracts within their community.
Honorable Mention: The HYATT LODGE, Oak Brook, Ill.
Specifiers: Tracy Franas, The Boelter Cos.; Stephen Langlois, Executive Chef
Chinaware: Pickard Illusion
Flatware: Oneida Mascagni
Glassware: Schott-Zwiesel Grandioso
Accessories: Sambonet creamer; Reiner salt & pepper shaker
An upscale facility overlooking a lake on the campus of McDonald's corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., this Hyatt-operated lodge has built a substantial catering and banquet following. According to Stephen Langlois, its executive chef who formerly built his reputation at a prominent Chicago restaurant, 75% of the lodge's dining volume is generated by executives and staff from McDonald's Corp.
Corporate events held here include retreats, training sessions and the entertainment of attendees at Hamburger University, located across the street, which caters to franchisees that are required by McDonald's to visit on a recurrent basis. The burger chain's executives also regularly use the lodge for such private events as weddings (some 80 to 90 are catered each year), bar mitzvahs, birthdays and other functions.
According to Tracy Franas, the DSR who services The Hyatt Lodge account for The Boelter Companies, the client wanted to create a grand and upscale setting to attract the highest end of the local catering/banquet market. As a result, Hyatt personnel selected Pickard China, since they felt it set a high standard for quality and elegance. Pickard's Illusion pattern, which is decorated with a 24K gold inlaid band over mirror-like platinum, is complemented by the simplicity of Euro-sized Oneida Mascagni pattern silver-plated flatware and Schott-Zwiesel crystal Grandioso oversized stemware. The table setting components had to be sufficiently durable to withstand the rigors of off-premise transportation and usage and, thus far, have met the test.
Award Winner: STILLWATERS at Stonewall Resort, Roanoke, W. Va.
Specifiers: Scott McMinn, Benchmark Equipment Co.; Greg Parsons, GM
Chinaware: Homer Laughlin Custom
Flatware: Oneida Eton
Glassware: Schott-Zwiesel Mondial; Judel Ultra; Cardinal pub glassAccessories: Artex napkin; Bon Chef au gratin, marmite; Cristal place mat, bread basket; Diversified Ceramics ramekin, pipkin; Hena table lamp; Reiner salt & pepper shaker; Regency creamer, gravy boat
The Benchmark Hospitality Co. is in the unusual position of managing the Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, a 26,000-acre recreational reserve in West Virginia. It opened Stonewall Resort within the park in October 2002 with the goal of providing world-class hospitality services. The Adirondack-style main lodge has 198 guest rooms and is complemented by lakeside cottages, luxury houseboats and campsites, as well as a 14,000-square-foot conference center and 7,000-square-feet of exhibition space.
Greg Parsons, GM of the property, worked with VP Scott McMinn in creating Stillwaters Restaurant, this year's award winner in the club/resort category.
The restaurant is located on the resort's ground floor and, through its floor-to-ceiling windows, provides a panoramic view of the lake. The restaurant's furnishings were chosen to convey a lodge design motif through the use of rustic wood chairs and tabletops, leather covered banquettes, warm-hued fabrics and numerous fireplaces. The centerpiece of Stillwaters is its exhibition kitchen, which is surrounded by marketplace-style buffet seating. The resort's guests have the option to dine Ã la carte, from the buffet or to select a combination of both. All menu offerings are created from scratch using fresh ingredients that are obtained from local purveyors whenever possible.
According to Parsons, 50 different china patterns were considered before a custom-decorated service by Homer Laughlin was finally selected. Glassware was also carefully chosen and includes stems by Schott-Zwiesel and tumblers and stems by Judel and Cardinal International. The silver-plated Eton pattern by Oneida was the designers' flatware choice, while leather place mats by Cristal Marketing and napery by Artex in mocha and brick colors augment the tabletop color palette. Pewter serving pieces by Bon Chef, china accessory items by Diversified Ceramics, plated hollowware by Regency Products and table lighting by Hena complete this signature tabletop design.