Café Patachou
Carlie Steiner And Kevin Tien Drinking Together At A Table
Atelier Crenn
Sala & Betty
Dirt Candy

New York City

Established: 2014

Chef/Owner: Enrique Olvera

Chef/Partner: Daniela Soto-Innes

How they do it: At Cosme, chef/partners Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes believe in a new generation of cooks who understand that the fundamentals of cooking are important, but that cooking is not a profession, but a lifestyle. As the industry evolves, they hope more chefs will also focus on building relationships with their cooks, and the importance of culture and team-building.

Steal it: The best kitchens are happy kitchens.

Café Patachou


Established: 1989

Owner: Martha Hoover

Chef: Tyler Herald

Pastry chef: Jason Bridgewater

How they do it: Café Patachou built its culture on the premise of being radically different and radically better. “We work daily under the guiding principles of being a bar-setting company that values quality of product, quality of customer experience, quality of employee experience, with a critical eye toward sustainability and commitment to community,” says owner Martha Hoover.

Steal it: Be more and do more—profitability can exist without the exploitation of the people who make success possible.

Death & Taxes

Raleigh, North Carolina

Established: 2015

Owner: Ashley Christensen

Chef: Ashley Christensen and Lauren Ivey

Pastry chef: Britny Stephenson

How they do it: Ashley Christensen’s name has become synonymous with the new kitchen culture in the industry. At Death & Taxes, the chef/owner starts by trying to bridge what has been an industry divide between front and back of house. “The open kitchen in our restaurant definitely contributes to that mission, and creates an environment in which our kitchen team interacts with guests along with our service team. Everyone is an active and direct participant in creating a unique guest experience,” Christensen says.

Steal it: Put it in writing—outline the company culture and expectations for respectful behavior.


Washington, D.C.

Established: 2016

Owner: Carlie Steiner and Kevin Tien

Chef: Kevin Tien

Beverage director: Carlie Steiner

How they do it: The team at Himitsu is motivated by creating unforgettable experiences for guests while acting as an incubator for back-of-house and front-of-house professionals who want to grow in the industry. “We want to make a difference by not shying away from social decisions as a business, but rather embracing them and feeling good about the business we run,” says co-owner and beverage director Carlie Steiner.

Steal it: Build your team and support your team.


Charleston, South Carolina

Established: 2006

Owner: The Neighborhood Dining Group

Chef: Sean Brock

Pastry chef: Katy Keefe

How they do it: Culture is the sum of its parts: the people. “For a positive working culture, you have to start with the people you bring in to your organization. Who are they? What are their personalities? We thoroughly get to know them and hire people that we know have the write mindset to be a part of a great company culture,” says David Howard, president of the Neighborhood Dining Group. “We owe that to the current employees.”

Steal it: Actions speak louder than words—lead by example.

Atelier Crenn

San Francisco

Established: 2011

Owner: Dominique Crenn

Chef: Dominique Crenn

Pastry chef: Juan Contreras

How they do it: Atelier Crenn chef/owner Dominique Crenn has become famous for her heart, and it shows in her restaurants, where she knows that people are the secret to everything. “I believe humanity is at the core of it: I cannot achieve anything alone and I must empower my team to be able to rise to the occasion,” Crenn says. “If these values resonate through all of the staff, I can trust that they will maintain the standard and maintain an open mind.”

Steal it: The time for pointing fingers has passed. Be the change.


Somerville, Massachusetts

Established: February 2016

Owners: Katrina Jazayeri and Joshua Lewin

Chef: Joshua Lewin

How they do it: Juliet was an early adopter of gratuity-free in the Boston area. Staff is paid on a single pay scale with profit sharing for all. The entire team is trained to understand the health of the business through profit and loss statements and empowered to enact initiatives to improve it. “Juliet provides access to a strong foundation of training with a focus on true career growth and opportunity, for everyone,” says chef/owner Joshua Lewin.

Steal it: Don’t go it alone. Share your experience, compliment your heroes and mentors, invest in the success of those around you, and those working with you.


San Francisco

Established: 2009

Owner: Peter and Kathy Fang

Chefs: Peter and Kathy Fang

How they do it: When owners Peter and Kathy Fang sought out to run a restaurant, they knew it would be different. The duo is involved in every aspect of the business. “We not only manage front of the house, but also back of the house. And we are a father and daughter team. Naturally the ‘family dynamic’ that is present in the business makes our staff feel more like a family than a business,” says Kathy Fang.

Steal it: Ensure you set the right environment for your employees and try to think of them as family.

Sala & Betty


Established: 2015

Owners: Terry and Teresa Wilson

Chef: Teresa Wilson

How they do it: Being a woman-run restaurant allows Sala & Betty to create an environment that cares for employees and guests on a personal level, says Diana Salazar, general manager. “We are able to focus on the strengths of our co-workers, not their weaknesses.” While kitchens have a reputation of being fierce environments, Salazar says working at Sala & Betty is an opportunity to learn and build confidence.

Steal it: Value individuals who want to learn and are willing to try.

Girl & the Goat


Established: 2010

Owner: Stephanie Izard and Kevin Boehm, and Rob Katz of Boka Restaurant Group

Chef: Stephanie Izard

Pastry Chef: Nate Meads

How They Do It: The team at Girl & the Goat believe restaurants are all defined by three things: Food, hospitality, and design. The alchemy of Stephanie Izard’s amazing food, warm hospitality, and Karen Herold’s timeless design are the secret sauce. When it comes to staffing, education has always been of paramount concern, but it’s the emphasis on the enjoyment of the work that translates to guests. “Keeping it joyful is an active pursuit and your guests can feel the energy,” says Kevin Boehm, co-founder of Boka Restaurant Group.

Steal It: Hire leaders with great core values; it’s more important than technical skills. “start with a good heart and teach the rest,” Boehm says.

Research, Slideshow