An inside look at Table128 Bistro+Bar’s experience staging at Gramercy Tavern
Lynn and Sarah Pritchard are the chef-owners of Table128 Bar + Bistro in Clive, Iowa, a seasonally-focused restaurant serving what Lynn describes as "sexy comfort food." Fine-dining veterans, Lynn and Sarah are longtime admirers of the Union Square Hospitality Group, even going so far as to give Danny Meyer’s seminal business philosophy book, “Setting the Table,” to all their new employees.
As it happens, BentoBox account manager Betsy Chen works with both Table128 and USHG, prompting Sarah to reach out to us with an unusual request. “We’ve been talking about trying to get to NYC to stage with someone at USHG,” she wrote. “Obviously it’s a big company, but knowing you guys work with them, thought it might be worth asking.”
Having worked with USHG for several years and experiencing firsthand the company’s culture of hospitality, Betsy knew that there was potential to make Table128’s dream a reality. As one of BentoBox’s first employees, Betsy has seen BentoBox’s community grow alongside the restaurants we work with. For us, it’s not just about providing restaurants with beautiful websites—it’s also about helping them grow as a business and a culture. So we reached out to our contacts at USHG, who responded with an enthusiastic “yes.”
Weeks later, Chef Lynn Pritchard and his sous chef, Jared Clark, found themselves in NYC for a once in a lifetime opportunity—shadowing the team at Meyer’s renowned restaurant Gramercy Tavern. The BentoBox team joined Lynn and Jared on site, documenting their stage. Here’s a look behind the scenes.
Lynn sat in on preshift. “We talked through some service pieces and what was going to be going on in the private dining room that night,” he says.
“They gave me a full tour of the place—the ins and outs of the building—to see how the magic is made,” says Lynn. They discussed how all the receiving is done and all of Gramercy’s policies and procedures.
“I expected to see some operational pieces—and I certainly did take some of those away, but it was really about that overwhelming sense of hospitality from everybody that embraced me. I felt like I was part of the Union Square family,” says Lynn.
While there is a clear hierarchy, how chef Mike [Anthony] runs his kitchen, it’s clear that no person is more important than another.
“Traditionally, European driven kitchens like that are very quiet. It’s one person speaking and that would typically be the chef de cuisine or the chief expediter, but there was this constant hum and cacophony of really effective and highly efficient communication. I was surprised by how clear the communication was between the front and back of the house. It was very matter of fact and to the point. Nobody ever said “we can’t do that.” It was always, “Ok, we’ll figure it out.” While there is a clear hierarchy, how chef Mike [Anthony] runs his kitchen, it’s clear that no person is more important than another,” says Lynn.
“Having watched and observed from a high-level, away from USHG, their culture is just ingrained in everybody,” says Lynn.
“I was so enamored with how they were basting the fish. After the fish had been grilled, presentation side down, they would flip it and baste it in an emulsified butter sauce. But instead of just basting with a traditional silicon or horsehair brush, they made a brush out of herbs and lemon grass. So you’re getting those essential oils on top of the sauce, adding a depth of flavor. That’s so reflective of what their style of cuisine is. It’s very intellectual, but not heavy, and thoughtful and delicious,” says Lynn.
“Everything there just worked. Amazingly well,” says Lynn.
“It was very organic, they didn’t talk about a magic zone of not forcing feeding people or making them wait too long between courses. Everything just worked. At peak service, they were working on about 15 tables at a time. So their reservations, the way they stack their tables, is very fluid,” explains Lynn.
On his final thoughts about the stage, Prichard says the hospitality he felt at Union Square Hospitality Group comes down to the people: “Being embraced by that small community of really great people who care about their cuisine, their company, their guests, their vendors and the city is so inspiring ” says Lynn.
That inspiration drives us to be more than just a website design team—we’re dedicated to fostering a true sense of community. “This is what it's about,” says BentoBox co-founder and CEO Krystle Mobayeni. “This is hospitality in all directions. We're not only helping restaurants be the best they can be online, we're helping them be the best they can be, period.”