For diners, restaurant week in New York offers a chance to either check out something new, taste something exotic, or sample a brand-new experience. For restaurateurs, it’s the opportunity to impress and expand a customer base.
And who tries harder than a steakhouse? The food is expected to be of unusually high quality, because in New York, the tab will always reach double digits for anyone not dining alone.
Steaking a Claim
This year, we decided to check out a local hotspot that’s been making some noise, especially among those who are either up-and-coming, or youthful in mindset: STK Steakhouse. The brand prides itself on a secret ingredient that has little to do with the menu and everything to do with making the most of your time on the town.
They call it “vibe dining.” Simply put, it means that STK takes a multi-dimensional approach to your experience, and that while a hearty steak might be at the center of your evening, there’s a plan to keep you there through the night enjoying the best that Manhattan and the restaurant have to offer.More From Metrosource
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During the week, we caught up with Kevin Inkles, general manager of STK’s downtown location, and he gave us his vision of vibe, and how he believes it sets his restaurant apart from his old school Goodfellas-oriented counterparts.
METROSOURCE: What’s the significance of restaurant week to you at STK and how do you treat the week as something special for your patrons?
Inkles: Well, restaurant week is one of those special moments where people across the state can try some of the most favorable restaurants across the city. It’s no different for us at STK. Not only do we provide guests with a chance to try our award-winning food; they also have an opportunity to experience our reputation as the global leader in vibe dining at a more affordable cost. In case you’re unfamiliar, vibe dining, as we call it, unites classic fine dining experience with the energy of a lounge or nightclub.
That means delectable cuisine, upscale cocktails and an elevated happy hour, along with an in-house DJ and chic décor. All those elements come together to provide a memorable fine dining experience that keeps guests enjoying their evening from drinks to dinner to dancing.
METROSOURCE: With so many restaurants competing for attention, how does STK believe their brand stands out in the crowd? Certainly ambiance, location, service and the menu spring to mind.
Inkles: STK is “not your daddy’s steakhouse,” as we like to say. We offer a high-energy dining experience that tries to combine the superior quality you’d find in a traditional steakhouse with a vibe dining atmosphere unlike any other. It’s all of these factors in combination — and the way we balance them — that make STK stand out from the traditional offerings of restaurant week.
METROSOURCE: The week also brings new faces to sample your restaurant. What is it you’re hoping they’ll find that will keep them coming back?
Inkles: The one thing we hope our guests walk out with after each experience at STK is just that: the experience. The unparalleled meat program and craveable cocktails are only the first course at STK. It’s also the vibe and energy at the foundation of what we do that keeps our clients — both new and old — returning to dine with us time and time again.
It’s What’s for Dinner
METROSOURCE: Let’s get to the menu: Obviously with a name like STK, steak is a central focus. How do you believe the brand stands above the rest?
Inkles: Actually, our restaurant week menu gives you the best of both worlds. You get a chance to try some of our staples, but you can also upgrade to some of our world-class meats for just a fraction of the price. So whether its value or superlative cuisine you’re after during a restaurant week experience, you can’t beat STK as an option.
METROSOURCE: Having great sides and cocktail complements is another element that can wow a diner — new or returning — so what can you say about those?
Inkles: STK offers a wide array of signature cocktails that feature premium spirits, so we truly have something for everyone and every taste. My personal favorite is the Cucumber Stiletto, which is a refreshing blend of Grey Goose le Citron Vodka, St. Germain, muddled cucumber and mint. It’s light and refreshing, making it a perfect pairing for almost any dish we serve.
All About the Vibe
METROSOURCE: Some restaurants likely take little chances to do something daring with the menu during this week. Others decide to do what they do best to make it shine. What’s STK’s game plan?
Inkles: Dining at STK is unlike any other restaurant out there, thanks to the vibe dining concept I’ve mentioned. We know that restaurant week brings many first-time guests through the doors, so we focus on ensuring everyone who dines with us gets to experience that vibe, because as we said – once you experience it, the vibe keeps you coming back.
METROSOURCE: There are also choices for folks who will attend with their steak-loving friends and families, but there’s much more to the experience than red meat. What would you say might attract anyone who loves fine dining but avoids steak?
Inkles: Well, let’s get this clear: STK may be a steakhouse, but we also serve up incredible dishes that meet dietary needs of all kinds of diners without sacrificing any quality whatsoever. We offer mouthwatering seafood and some vegetarian friendly options as well, so there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.
Service with a Smile
METROSOURCE: Service is also a component that means so much to an experience like this. What kinds of special instructions have been given to the staff about this opportunity?
Inkles: The way we operate at STK is much more than traditional service. We want to celebrate every special occasion with our guests, whether it is Christmas, a birthday or a Tuesday. As we say, everyday is a holiday at STK.
METROSOURCE: Over the years you’ve participated, what have you learned about yourselves and your guests about restaurant week?
Inkles: We’ve always embraced the Restaurant Week program, you know. We view it as an opportunity to welcome new guests to the family. Every year, we try to raise the bar from what we offered the year before, and by offering an exemplary experience, we’ve discovered that many guests who first dine with us during restaurant week quickly become regular, lifetime guests.
METROSOURCE: Someone wise once said, “True communication is in the response you get.” How will you assess that this restaurant week has been a success by your own standards?
Inkles: At STK we take the “door is always open” approach. That goes for the staff, our coworkers, and our guests. The most important thing to ensuring an incredible guest experience is communication and knowledge. The more information we have, the more successful we will be tomorrow. So whether it’s feedback received tableside during a guest’s meal, or from a social media post, we take every comment to heart in order to ensure we are providing that signature STK experience to every single person who dines with us.
*All images courtesy STK Steakhouse
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Last modified: January 29, 2020