Thanks to a slew of top chefs, Michelin-starred restaurants and a little award ceremony called James Beard, Chicago is becoming a food destination for tourists and foodies from all over. And while we have always been a fan of our Windy City cuisine, we’re glad everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon! To get the skinny on the Chicago food scene, we turned to the women behind DineAmic Group, the hospitality group taking our restaurant scene by storm.
Siena Tavern. Public House. Bull & Bear. These spots are Chicago staples for good food and lots of fun, and all under the DineAmic Group umbrella. This year, the DineAmic team once again partnered with BRAVO-famous Chef Fabio Viviani to open a twist on the classic Windy City steakhouse with Prime & Provisions, along with a spin-off of Siena Tavern with Bar Siena in the West Loop. Basically, it’s kind of hard not to eat with DineAmic.
We sat down with Laura Faith, Director of Marketing & Production andMorgen Klepfer,Director of Catering and Events along with Lindsay Goldberg , Marketing & Brand Manager and Cara Zizzo, Public Relations Manager. And among laughter, shoe talk and lots of food/drink, they talked about the new direction of the food industry, how to create a great dining experience and their favorite DineAmic meals.
HOW IS WORKING IN THE FOOD BUSINESS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SERVICE-RELATED INDUSTRIES?
You just can’t turn “it” off when you are out. It consumes the way you experience restaurants, bars, chain concepts, small businesses, etc. Every time I visit a new place I am immediately looking around at their lighting, design, small tidbits of decor that no one else probably notices, what their staff is wearing, how their managers are interacting with staff and guests, the music vibe, the marketing materials, signage and on and on.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Having a successful event and have the clients be happy with how it was executed. I want them to not worry about a thing once they arrive. People don’t realize how much details goes into some of these events. We just want everyone to have a great time and want to rebook.
No two days are the same, and never will be! If you had a sucky day one day, you can go home and smile because chances are it won’t be the same tomorrow. Also, the environment – we are like a family and it definitely shows. We work hard but we laugh & play harder.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WORK/PERSONAL LIFE BALANCE?
Work hard. Play hard. From the office hours to free time, it is all about a balance. If one part is dominating your life than the other, then it is time to reevaluate a few things. I do not have a specific formula as what to do, I just know if I am neglecting one part of my life or the other then I need to “pump the brakes” and figure it out.
WHAT IS THE BEST PROFESSIONAL ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?
Laura Faith: “You can’t do it all. Just do your best.”
I remind myself of this frequently when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day or work days in the week to complete everything going on. Sometimes you get so overwhelmed by everything on your plate when you really just need to relax, re-focus and knock one thing out at a time that you put your best effort into.
THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY HAS BEEN VERY MALE-DOMINATED IN THE PAST. WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR WOMEN TRYING TO BREAK INTO A TYPICALLY MALE INDUSTRY?
The ladies have been slowly taking over I think. I was the first female manager we had with the company and now we have had 6 more after me. You just have to put yourself out there and show them how well we can do in this business.
Women are on the rise. Look around… not just in the hospitality field but all over. Women are in such high positions of power at some of the nations’ most prestigious organizations. Being a ‘Power Mom’ is cool now too… versus years ago when moms were supposed to stay at home. We are living in a time of social change and women are fueling it… in the right direction. […] So, tips? Be confident, work your ass off and know you’re good at your job – it will radiate and others will be able to feel + see it. Do everything to the best of your ability and don’t be embarrassed to put your heart into it or be passionate and ask questions… lots of them. Network, foster relationships, don’t burn bridges, go above and beyond – the hard work will pay off.
CHICAGO IS A HUGE FOOD CITY! HOW CAN BRANDS STAND OUT IN THIS ENVIRONMENT?
Approachability is key. Speak to your target demographic and create something that will get capture their attention. If you are a craft beer lover, you are definitely going to want to check out Public House for Craft Beer Week when we have 10 days of hard-to-get-your-hands-on tapping events lined up. If you love food demonstrations and are a Fabio fanatic, you would love to attend Fabio Live at Siena Tavern.
I think service and consistency are key and are going to set you apart from other restaurants in Chicago. Our guests know that they can come back every day of the week and they are going to get the same level of service and the same delicious food. […] You just know what you’re going to get, and it’s nothing short of amazing.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE DINEAMIC MEALS (CHOOSE A FEW!)
Public House’s Burrata Flatbread or Mac N Cheese (add Short Rib Chili) or a custom creation