Happy Foodie Friday!
One of the hats we Mavens wear as corporate event producers is to choose venues for executive dinners. On Fridays, I thought it might be fun to share some of our favorite venues and restaurants from around the world with you.
A corporate dinner, whether it is a bunch of CEOs talking shop or a company hosting its top customers and partners has a few key components that we always check off our list.
Geographic Ease: Meaning, how easy is the space to get to and if you are planning in conjunction with a larger event like a tradeshow or conference, is it walking distance or a quick cab ride away.
Maven ABC List: "Ambiance", "Beverage", "Cuisine". Sometimes one will outshine the other but if we nail all three we are golden.
The Fine Print: Sign and seal the deal up front, contracts signed, per person pricing agreed upon, wine chosen, etc... no surprises are what we look for with a venue event management team. The word for the "bill" translates to "a reckoning" in German, and we don't ever want that at the end of a great event.
Everyone wants ultimately wants to be "cool", "cutting edge", and "hip" while of course being professional - so we look for restaurants and venues for our clients that reflect high marks on the ABC list above. We research trends and keep in the know about chefs, public opinions and food in general. Zagat, Yelp and Open Table are all great resources for this information. I also personally watch Top Chef, the Food Network and subscribe to Food and Wine Magazine (which if you happen to be of an iPad persuasion, it is a free app download as is Travel +Leisure) and its gorgeous.
Ultimately a killer venue provides elegant without being stuffy ambiance, tablesmacking food, a carefully chosen wine list, and an unobtrusive noise level. The icing on the cake is to look for places that have that extra special something (an amazing amuse bouche, a signature dessert, flaming drinks, etc...) that makes the evening utterly memorable.
To that end - here is the first of our Friday Foodie Favorites.
Friday Foodie Alert #1 - American Grocery Restaurant
AGR is run by a husband and wife team, natives of South Carolina who lived and worked in Los Angeles in the film and theater industries for over a decade and came back home to fulfill their dream of opening a locavore, farm to table establishment.
I've had the pleasure of dining at AGR in its wonderfully elegant and cozy dining room and also in New York City for a James Beard Foundation Multi-Course, Wine-Paired Dinner where the AGR team created an amazing nose to tail pork extravaganza.
American Grocery Restaurant strives to serve the finest in refined American Seasonal Cuisine, featuring products sourced from local and regional farms and from artisan producers from within the United States. Their menu changes frequently based on the freshest products they can procure from our local purveyors and the bounty of the seasons. Chef Joe Clarke believes it is a restaurants responsibility to understand where their products come from, how they came to be, and the love with which those products were raised; to AGR there is no other way.
Custom wine room designed by Certified Sommelier, Darlene Mann-Clarke holds over 100 hand-picked artisan boutique wines from all over the globe, unique quality-crafted wines that exhibit the same level of distinction as their daily menu.
AGR has all the ABCs we look for in a venue and Chef Joe and Sommelier Darlene always bring something special to a meal and their food makes me smack the table. We highly recommend you give them a shout.
Cuisine: Contemporary American
Phone: (864) 232-7665
Hours of Operation: Dinner : Tuesday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
Dress Code: Business Casual
Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
Additional Details: Bar Dining, Beer, Chef's Table, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine
Parking: Public Lot
Parking Details: Free parking is available on the north side of the building in a public city parking lot and on the street.
Private Party Facilities: American Grocery Restaurant offers private dinners in our intimate private dining room designed specifically for smaller business or personal affairs. Our private dining room will accommodate up to twelve comfortably with a variety of menu options we will tailor to your preferences. Additionally, our entire facility is available for buyout to accommodate larger events. Joe Clarke (864) 363-2862.
If you are in the Greenville SC area - this restaurant is a gem and worth the drive from Charlotte if you so choose.