Shopping Centers Today

NOV 2018

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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T H E C O M M O N A R E A 16 S C T / N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 C elebrity chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse has written near- ly 20 cookbooks, and played host onsome 2,000 TV shows on the Food Network alone. Yet foodie fans can still catch himin action, cooking at one of his 11 restaurants in the U.S. Lagasse describes himself as a hands-on restaurant owner and chef. "There is an ungodly amount of competition every- where. I look at that not only as a challenge for myself, but as a challenge [also] for my staff and my team to constant- ly be at the cutting edge of great food, great service, great mixology bar programs and just taking care of the house." Lagasse opened his first restaurant in 1990, in New Orleans,where henow operates four.In addition, he has three on the Las Vegas Strip andthree at the Sands Casino Resort, in Bethlehem, Pa. His most recent, Emeril's Coastal Seafood, opened a year agoin Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, in Miramar Beach, Fla. Whereas some restaurant chains crank out a successful prototype that can be easily duplicated, Lagasse cre- ates distinctly different restaurants. Hisconcepts include NOLA, in New Orleans; Emeril's New Orleans Fish House, in Las Vegas; and Emeril's Burgers & More, in Bethlehem. "They're sort of like children," he said.They have all been created based on a specific theme that resonates in that particular market or venue, he says. Lagasse chose to go with an Italian-themed restaurant in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, for exam- ple,because he thought thatthe best fit for that particular market. "I have spent a lot of time in Italy, and I was very inspired by the Amalfi Coast," Lagasse said. Although Lagasse is running a business and has an eye on growing the bottom line, he does not open new restaurants just for the sake of expansion. "We have new opportu- nities that come all the time, but they have to have heart and soul and meaning," he said. One of the factors that drew Lagasse to Grand Boulevard at Sandestin was the opportunity to open arestaurant almost literally in his own backyard. His family made Destin its home in 2012. "It was not uncommon to see Emeril at the grocery store or enjoying one of our restaurants in town," said Stacey Brady, marketing director ofGrand Boulevard at Sandestin, whichHoward Group and Mer- chants Retail Partners co-own. "When Emeril enjoys your town cen- ter, you would be remiss if you didn't start talking to him about the possibili- ty of a restaurant," Brady said. Emeril's Coastal Italian is one of 16 eateries at thatmixed-use center. "From day one, the restaurant has been very popular with locals and visitors alike," said Brady. "It has become one of those go-to restaurants for a celebration." Lagasse says he practically lived at the restaurant for the first six months after it opened — training staff and generally getting the operation up and running. When he is not trav- eling, he is still playing an active role. Some dayshe might be on the phone at 6 a.m., negotiating to buy the fish catch of the day, and atother times, patrons might be lucky enough to get to watch him preparing their meal. "It's not unusual at all to enjoy a meal in the restaurant, which has a great open exhibi- tion kitchen, and there is chef Emeril doing his thing in the kitchen, and that's kind of exciting,"Brady said. Lagasse's restaurants vary in size, but they typically measure about 7,000 square feet. "There is a certain foot- print that we need to have, to make it a complete operation that is run as smooth as we can," said Lagasse. Although he has no new restaurants in the works right now, Lagassedid just completea renovation at NOLA, in the New OrleansFrench Quarter. He is also renovating Emeril's New Orleans. "That's really the philosophy," he said. "To get up in the morning and try a lit- tle bit harder than the day before and try to get a little bit better." Q Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse takes a hands-on role in running his restaurant business By Beth Mattson-Teig At the stove F O O D A N D B E V E R AG E

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