National expert offers keys for successful restaurants

10/03/2013 6:37 PM

10/03/2013 6:37 PM

Restaurants that offer “craveable food” and take care to connect with their customers should succeed, said the chairman of the National Restaurant Association.

Philip Hickey, who has been in the restaurant industry nearly four decades, was in town this week to speak at the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association’s annual Gilbert Robinson Leadership Awards Dinner. Several area restaurant workers and other industry experts were honored at the event and 14 scholarships were awarded.

Hickey said these restaurant trends will continue to be strong in 2014:

• Customization in orders, a key growth strategy behind such chains as Subway.

• Quick casual operations, where customers pay as they order and not wait for a server to ring them up. They also can save 15 to 20 percent because they can skip the tip.

• Healthy eating and locally sourced food products.

Quick bites

• Chuy’s, a Tex-Mex chain based in Austin, Texas, plans to open at 11 a.m. Tuesday at 209 W. 46th Terrace, the former spot of Figlio Italian Restaurant Bar.

• Kansas City-based Smallcakes A Cupcakery said it has signed an agreement with Glee Hospitality Solutions in Dubai to open shops in the Middle East.

Employee of the Year award winners

Allied Employee of the Year: Michael Barry, Major Brands

Allied Office Employee of the Year: Anthony Brancato, Excel Linen Supply

Back of House Employee of the Year: Peter Richardson, Garozzo’s Ristorante

Bartender of the Year: Tim Bradley, J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks Seafood

Chef of the Year: Ray Comiskey, The Capital Grille

Front of House Employee of the Year: Marina Somers, Pizza 51

Front of House Manager of the Year: Bill Cusick, J. Gilbert’s

Wood-Fired Steaks Seafood

Kitchen Employee of the Year: Taylor Leonard, Houlihan’s

Kitchen Manager of the Year: Rafa Guzman

,

Manny’s Restaurante Mexicano

Media Person of the Year: Jenny Vergara, The Making of a Foodie

Office Employee of the Year: Laura Bird,

Treat America Food Services

Overall Employee of the Year:

Wojo O’Hara, Lidia’s Kansas City

Server of the Year: Krystian LeStourgeon, Barley’s Brewhaus in Overland Park

Source: Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association

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