When national names descended on Cleveland this summer for the RNC, they were wined and dined and entertained. No one expressed disappointment in what was presented on their plates. They did, however, criticize the service level in the city whose restaurant scene is exploding. Recognizing that there is a gap between the level of cuisine and the level of service, Restaurauer Zack Bruell brought in the big guns: his son, Julian Bruell. The younger Bruell comes with more than just a name. The newly dubbed Director of Service for the Zack Bruell Restaurant Group brings with him years of experience at some of the country’s most prestigious dining destinations. And he is ready to raise the level of service across the city.
Bruell, former General Manager of Sauvage, and former Service Manager of Jean Georges, both in NYC, is charged with upholding, training and developing new and elevated service standards for all of the Zack Bruell restaurants’ front of house employees. This includes standardizing and creating beverage, food, service standards, and training materials. He will also collaborate with ZBRG’s Director of Operations, David Schneider, with development of wine and spirits lists and human resources oversight. He and Schneider wear a lot of hats, according to Bruell.
“Our restaurant group’s goal is to be more polished at our craft than any group of restaurants in the United States. Ultimately, we want our guests to leave feeling like they had a memorable and non replicable experience at our restaurants. We want people to feel dining with us as an enjoyable escape from their every day life,” said Bruell.
Bruell believes that the Cleveland restaurant market is growing extremely fast, potentially oversaturating the city with a below standard service, beverage, and culinary culture. In response, he says, they will focus on educating employees and embracing the creative talent on their teams in order to combat this potential downfall.
“We want to change and elevate the standard of service, cuisine, and hospitality not just in Cleveland, but throughout the world. We want our guests to feel like their experience in our restaurants is cosmopolitan, culturally enriching, and unique,” Bruell said.
The first two months of Bruell’s return to Cleveland was spent at L’albatros Brasserie + Bar, then two months between Cowell and Hubbard and Chinato Ristorante, and he has just begun training at Alley Cat Oyster Bar. At all of the locations he’s visited, Bruell says they’ve developed more attentive and detail oriented service standards. Some of these changes include teaching of proper verbiage with guests, standardizing day-to-day position training and service manuals, and using the knowledge and tastings of product to tailor and guide the dining experience to each guests desired tastes.
“I have been really proud of all of the service compliments our staff’s have received, as I want them to take ownership of their craft. They have embraced the many service changes I have made, and are excited to learn more and provide a proper, personalized dining experience that our guests desire,” he said.
As they move forward, Bruell says they will embrace and take all reviews seriously.
“We have always understood that every day is extremely important and that we cannot afford to take an off day,” he says.
Bruell recognizes that social media and marketing are extremely important as they focus on capturing the millenial clientele, who is constantly engaged and driven by social media outlets. In the future, look for ZBRG to focus social media and marketing on the feeling of being a part of their restaurant “family” and the feeling of being involved and intrigued with what they do everyday.
“I was lucky enough to experience 5 years of cultural, personal, and hospitality growth when in New York. I was really inspired by the energy, drive, and new ideas and creativity in New York. I experienced and provided levels of service that were considered the best in the world, and I believe I can develop that level of service in Cleveland and within our restaurants,” he said.
I have already personally heard about the positive changes in effect because of the younger Bruell’s presence. I’ll be interested to hear about the improvements from other frequent CLE diners.