INSIDE THE CAVES - Tavistock Restaurants
RAISE A GLASS
DIRECTOR OF WINE | TAVISTOCK
THE ART OF UTENSILS
DIRECTOR OF RESTAURANTS
AND BARS | HILTON WORLDWIDE
THE RHÔNE RANGER
THE STORY OF
T HE MARK WINE G ROUP | VOL 3.3 | SU M M ER 2013
raise a glass
TOASTING INNOVATIVE NATIONAL PROGRAMS 12
director of wine
t av i s t o c k r e s t a u r a n t g r o u p
As Director of Wine for the Tavistock Restaurant Group, an
intriguing web of restaurant concepts from the steakhouse
Abe & Louie’s to the Alcatraz Brewing Company and even
a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant, Carolin Meier has to
fit a lot of different size pieces into the puzzle. But this
wine industry veteran has come up with some interesting
and successful strategies and solutions.
MWG: You have over 120 restaurants, sixteen different concepts
in fifteen different states. That’s crazy.
CM: No kidding. It’s a very different proposition than a
Flemings, a Ruth’s Chris or a P.F. Chang’s. We have just put
together a national core program for our 30 upscale division
restaurants, but our core is in its adolescence stage right now.
First we have to reduce our SKU’s.
MWG: How many are we talking?
CM: Well, we’ve grown through acquisition in the last several
years. We have most of the Back Bay Restaurant Group now.
And we had an opportunity to pick up the original E-Brands
Restaurant concepts Timpano’s Chop House, Aquaknox and
Canonita. We have done some hardcore analytics. We had over
6000 SKU’s in only 30 restaurants.
CM: We are honing in on the
best we can offer all the different
tiers and leverage some great
buying power, but as we add
we have to cut more. We’re
close to 2500 SKU’s now and
that wasn’t easy. We did a lot of
features, created special menus,
“date night” packages. In fact I
would like to raise a glass to my
operators as it is through their
commitment and leadership
that this program is showing
some great early success. Of
course we’re still working on
it. We are shifting some of the
brands from one concept to
another. It’s a little atypical for
a corporate wine program.
MWG: Yes, definitely not your typical national account. You
have a lot of different concepts, but many definitely seem to have
a common thread. American.
CM: 17 of our restaurants are American concepts. For instance
the Napa Valley Grille is all about California wines. And at Joe’s
American Bar and Grill throughout the North East, we took
created an All American Wine List. It just doesn’t make sense for
an “American bar” to carry so imported wines.
MWG: Well, that makes sense. And we imagine Napa Valley
Grille has a lot of Napa wines?
CM: The Napa Valley Grille has a high amount of wine sales
and yes, it’s all about California wines and Napa Valley lifestyle.
Generally, the core is about 80% of any one list, with exceptions
of course. we like to give the individual stores opportunities to feature local wineries too. For instance we like to feature local Santa
Cruz wineries in our California Cafes. At the other 13 concepts
we feature a balance of old and
new world wines. At Café del
Rey, which is a Mediterranean
inspired concept, we’ve designed the list with that in
mind. The Chardonnay section is followed by White
Burgundy and the Cabernet
section is alongside Bordeaux.
There are some definite “aha”
moments that we’ve created
there by bringing varietal and
old world wines side by side.
Tavistock restaurant group operates
16 restaurants in 16 different states.
For more information visit:
MWG: Aha… we’re getting
the picture. Intriguing, interesting wines and wine programs. What kind of training
and education do you do for
implementing your wines?
THE MARK WINE NEWS
CM: We work with WineQuest in all of our
restaurants. It’s a basic intro to wine, spirits and beer.
And we work with their wine menu tool to continue
and to freshen our program. Of course this is just
one piece of our training program that is being redeveloped right now. WineQuest is one part of what
we call blended learning. It’s blind tastings and guided
tastings. We’ll explore the different oaks, different
flavor profiles; everything from crushed up cheerios
to marshmallow and all the citrus fruits, lemon, lime
and grapefruit. We really like to help people pull
different flavors out of the wine so they can talk wine
with our guests. We make it a personal experience.
MWG: And we understand that you are fairly
CM: We don’t have iPad’s in our restaurants. We
are not necessarily cutting edge.
MWG: But I am sure you keep your finger on the pulse.
CM: Definitely, but we don’t chase fads. Of course
in saying that we do have a Moscato d’Asti. And
where we only do Domestics, it’s a Moscato, no
Asti. Another variation I see us doing is perhaps
adding pour sizes. There seems to be a lot of
requests for that.
MWG: Bigger is better. Oh wait, that’s only here
in Texas. Well, we will definitely keep our eyes on
your exciting and expanding restaurant group.
Thanks so much for talking with us.
CM: Great talking with you. •
ZED451 is the only restaurant in Chicago to offer its diners a complimentary shuttle service to and from
hotels within the city.