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Dining Room, Oyster Bar & Institution: Inside Shaw’s Crab House

Dining Room, Oyster Bar & Institution: Inside Shaw's Crab House

“Either you’re an oyster bar guest or a dining room guest,” says John Gurgone, General Manager at Shaw’s Crab House.

Shaw’s is the 31-year-old Chicago institution known for its simply steamed seafood, and as John points out, the restaurant offers two distinctive but equally iconic experiences. On one hand, there’s the dining room: 330 seats, white tablecloths, 17 servers at a given time, reservations strongly recommended. This is where tourists come in after architectural tours and where locals gather for business lunches or to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

The oyster bar is a separate room entirely, with around 95 seats available exclusively for walk ins — a mix of bar seats, high-tops, and casual wood tables. Oysters, predictably, are the main event: the centerpiece of the room is an oyster shucking station, where at any given time 12 varieties are served (six east coast, six west coast).

Otherwise the menus are largely the same, but it’s the vibrant atmosphere that sets it apart: a live band plays jazz and blues music every Sunday through Thursday. Here’s how the two spaces work together. Read more

Kevin Boehm: Serve Good Food and Be Nice to People

Kevin Boehm: Serve Good Food and Be Nice to People

Kevin Boehm is the co-founder of the Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group, one of the leading chef-driven restaurant groups in the country. Boehm and his co-founder, Rob Katz, were finalists for the James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur award in 2016. Boka has 13 concepts, including the Michelin-starred Boka, Girl & The Goat, and their latest, GT Prime, set to open later this month.

We chatted with Boehm about his insatiable appetite for success, his history as a young restaurateur (he opened his first restaurant at 23!), and how he defines hospitality: serve good food and be nice to people.

You were successful restaurateur at such a young age. Why did you decide to open your first restaurant?

For some unknown reason I told my parents when I was 10 that I wanted to open up my own restaurant. But it didn’t really seem realistic; I didn’t know anybody else that wanted to be a restaurateur, I didn’t know anybody who was a chef. After high school I went to college, knowing that ultimately I wanted to open up my own restaurant. After my sophomore year, I said, I’m just gonna take off and work at a restaurant for a while. I had lived in the Midwest all my life and I wanted to go somewhere warmer. So I packed my Jeep up and I drove to Florida.

After working and saving for a while, I met a girl that I worked with who also wanted to open a restaurant. So we decided to open up a restaurant together.… Read more

How to Create Unique Experiences in a Multi-Unit Concept ‘Family’

How to Create Unique Experiences in a Multi-Unit Concept 'Family'

Chef Karen Mitchell was looking to work in a creative environment when she entered the kitchen at The Palm in Washington, D.C for a stage. The executive chef of that location at the time welcomed her in and gave her a challenge: come up with a special dish for that day’s lunch service, which started in 45 minutes. After searching for produce and proteins in the walk-in, she created a seafood special and gave a pre-shift meeting about its components. “I was shaking,” she remembers.

That’s how Mitchell started her career at The Palm restaurants. “It’s funny, I wasn’t looking for a corporate job,” she says. “But I feel like I found a home.” She is now the chef at The Palm Boston and was recently a contestant on an episode of Food Network’s Chopped.

Chain restaurants are really all about expectations. When guests see their favorite chain they have an idea of what’s on the menu and what the concept is before they even walk in. The challenge for operators of restaurants with multiple units is how to make each location exceed those expectations while providing the caliber of food and service that regulars expect. At The Palm, there are key ways they create unique experiences while staying true to their roots as an Italian-American steakhouse.… Read more

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