The brand's Princeton, New Jersey, location is taking a streamlined approach.
Salt Creek Grille’s Princeton, New Jersey, location has had to face a lot of the challenges many restaurants are going through right now—food shortages, increased costs, and staffing to name a few.
The restaurant underwent a revamp to help navigate these obstacles. This location is led by its first female executive chef, Erica Hernandez.
Hernandez says one aspect of the restaurant’s changes to help with costs and efficiency was using local ingredients.
“We've been trying to work with different partners to source local ingredients from local farmers,” she says. “It has helped us a lot because the big chains are missing out on a lot of the items.”
Hernandez says they source ice cream, bread, and a lot of produce from local vendors. She also says streamlining the menu was helpful.
“So working with what we have in house has been our saving grace,” Hernandez says. “Creating many items with the ingredients that we already have and that are easy for us to get, and simplifying the menu.”
The restaurant also implemented a sushi station, complete with a sushi chef who works six days a week. This balances the workflow in the kitchen and allows for groups of guests to have options when ordering at Salt Creek Grille.
“A lot of our guests love sushi,” she says. “If you want something lighter, you can go for it; it has definitely helped us a lot to balance our menu.”
Hernandez says this increased balance in the kitchen shortened ticket times and helped the team work at a better pace.
She says the restaurant has a lot of tenured team members, but like so many other concepts post-pandemic, staffing has been difficult. This restaurant’s management team is female-dominated, with women outnumbering men two to one, which was a draw for Hernandez.
“It's a very, very functional environment,” she says. “There's very little ego—everybody works together toward the same goal, we like each other, we get along really well, and we use our strength to make it better every single day.”
Looking ahead to the future, she says the location wants to expand its menu and continue to bring fresh, local ingredients into dishes.
“When you're sourcing locally, that's the best way to do it because you'll go with whatever this season has to offer and we'll be able to talk to more farmers as the seasons change,” Hernandez adds.
She says customers have responded well to this revamp, liking they can go to one restaurant for many different occasions.
“They have more options in just one place, in the same environment,” she says. “The main dishes have been a hit with our regulars and we've had guests come you know time and time again because they love the business and because they love the environment.”