The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2016

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may 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  73 Gregory was inspired by the investors' ambition. "They eventu- ally want to open 1,000 locations across the U.S. They decided to gamble: either go big or get smacked in the chops." Gregory assembled a team of like-minded veterans from the hotel/resort industry. One of them is Kent Bearden, Senior Director of Operations, whose resume includes stints at Carmine's in New York City and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he was Assistant Director of Beverage and Master Mixologist. "I have tremendous entrepreneurial spirit. I worked at the Grand when MGM was re-inventing itself, so I had a big hand in delivering the new model. That's why this idea was irresistible to me," Bearden said, gesturing at the bustling restaurant in front of him. "We built our team with resort people who are used to thinking on a large scale. They know that attention to detail is crucial." One of those details is Saint Marc's innovative ordering system. An iPad eTouch Menu at each table describes menu items. You simply choose what you want, whenever you want it, and it arrives at your table when it's ready. You can pay by the iPad eTouch Menu, too. "It's part of the spirit of openness and accessibility that we want to create here," Gregory said. "There's no hostess stand. You walk in, sit at a table and start ordering." The building was designed with accessibility in mind. A disappearing glass wall opens to the sea breezes, creating a huge al fresco drinking and dining area. "The open wall won't be unique to this location," Bearden said. "Whether we're in Dallas or the Mall of America, this design element will be used." Gregory and his team are still fine-tuning the details. Some Yelpers have grumbled about the ordering system. "It's a learning process, for them as well as us," Gregory said. "We'll always help those who need it, but we think the idea of ordering spontaneously is a winner." A recent addition is a big sign, visible from far down the mall, consisting of one word: BACON. Bearden explained the decision. "Bacon—it's the great equalizer, isn't it? Whether you come in flip-flops and a wet bathing suit or in business attire, you see that sign and you smell the aroma and you just want bacon." It's served Saint Marc style, of course—all by itself, in a thermal wrapping to keep it warm, with its flavors written down so you can remember what kind to order the next time. Because with bacon, there's always a next time. Saint Marc USA's CEO Thomas "Mac" Gregory III and Senior Director of Operations Kent Bearden. At Saint Marc Pub-Café, Bakery & Cheese Affinage in Huntington Beach, CA, guests can choose from several kinds of gourmet bacon. All menu items are available throughout the day, from opening until late at night.

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