Second, he loves all things food. He likes cooking, pairing with wine, and serving it.
But we’ve saved the most important thing you need to know about Scott for last: He believes in the power of caring about people. He believes that simple act can change lives, and that it can elevate a meal to an experience.
That’s what brought him to Eddie Merlot’s. He loved the food, the restaurant, and the high level of service that we expect. But what sealed the deal for him was that the upper management really was interested in who he was as a person, and wanted to do what they could to make him happy.
It reminded him of his experience working in Pittsburgh. Fresh out of Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, he took a job at a high-end steakhouse in Pittsburgh. The restaurant was locally owned, and Scott was the dining room manager and the wine buyer. The owner cared about the employees, treated them well and earned their loyalty, all the while treating diners to the type of high-level experience they enjoyed. Updegraff loved working there, and learned much from the staff.
Eventually, he wanted to move up into positions of greater responsibility, so he moved on to other restaurant groups. He opened several restaurants in various locations across the country, and he loved the experience of building a restaurant from the ground up, which is another reason he decided to come to Eddie Merlot’s.
“I interviewed them just as much as they interviewed me,” Scott says. “It’s got to be a good fit. When I talked to (Eddie Merlot’s founder) Bill Humphries and (Director of Operations) Bruce Kraus, I learned that we all have similar background in the industry and similar expectations and tastes. I really like that they recognize that I am a person with thoughts and opinions, and that they want to hear what I have to say. They care about me as a person.”
Scott has been working towards this type of position his entire working life. His culinary education had elements of kitchen skills and business operations. “I worked in many different kitchens during my training and early in my career,” Scott says. “Ideally, I’m a front of the house guy, but I’ve found a huge value in being able to talk to our chefs and kitchen staff in their own kitchen lingo.”
Scott joined the Eddie Merlot’s team in November, and worked at our Cincinnati and Indianapolis locations learning more about us.
“I like the quality of food with how we put things together and our presentation,” Scott says. “We have everything pulled together, including the lighting and the color scheme that makes it comfortable for everyone. Anybody can put steak on a plate. But Eddie’s adds flair to the meal. There is a lot of table side service. We do table side flambé, and it adds a little flair to the dining room. I like that they’re willing to go to that next level and you don’t find it in every steak house.”
The Warrenville location will open March 6. If you’re dining there, come by and say hi to Scott. He wants to get to know the customers – and for you to get to know him, and Eddie Merlot’s. We’re looking forward to making new friends!
If you’re new to this blog, you can sign up for an e-mail subscription in the upper right-hand corner. You can follow us on Twitter @eddiemerlots and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/merlots. We love to hear from our customers.