The Louisville location of Eddie Merlot’s is off and running – and getting geared up for the busiest time of the year in the city: the Kentucky Derby. We sat down to talk with some of our top management in Louisville about catering to the market and how they’ve won over a city with loads of restaurant options.
General manager Michael Manoocheri was our first interview. Michael was born in Louisville and split his childhood between Louisville and Cincinnati. His parents now live in Louisville and he considers it home. “Louisville is a great city and I really enjoy being here,” Michael says. “I live downtown and walk to work most days, and I love the feel of the city. It’s changed so much since I was here as a teen and I’m really grateful to be right at the heart of it.”
You’ll find Michael most nights working the dining rooms to ensure that everyone has a great experience. We’re happy to have him on board.
Tell us about your background.
Michael: “I was most recently the General Manager at Jeff Ruby’s in Louisville. I worked for Jeff Ruby when I was in high school in Cincinnati. I’ve also worked in hotels and restaurants, all in the hospitality industry. I graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., where I earned a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree in hospitality management.”
When did you join the Eddie Merlot’s team?
“I came on board in June of 2010. It was great to get involved from the ground floor. I was with the general contractor a lot. It was easier for Bruce (Kraus, director of operations) and Bill (Humphries, founder of Eddie Merlot’s) to have someone here in Louisville. I also spent a lot of time training in other restaurants, including the Indianapolis and Columbus locations. I came back to Louisville to start hiring our staff in October.”
What attracted you to Eddie Merlot’s?
“The ownership. The owners have very high standards. Bill has a great vision and a plan for the company. His high standards equate to high quality. The ingredients we get are second to none. This is one of the few steakhouses that I know of that says it serves Prime beef and really does serve Prime. There is truth in the menu descriptions and integrity in what they serve.”
What do you think is key to giving a customer a great Eddie Merlot’s experience?
“Reading the customer and knowing what they want. Patrick O’Connell, owner of the Inn at Little Washington, which is one of the finest restaurants in the world, talks about the mood factor. As soon as you pull up to the restaurant, the hostess assesses how you are. If you’re harried and frazzled, they can tell that, and they can alert the person who is serving you and help make your experience better. If you’re celebrating, we can adjust the pace of the meal to accommodate a more leisurely approach, and if you’re not in the mood to linger, we can be sure we get things to you quickly to accommodate that as well. It takes a well-trained server to recognize that.”
We’ll also be posting an interview with Travis Hall, our executive chef, on this blog within the next week.