Great Restaurants of Long Island | A letter fron michael & kurt bohlsen

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A Letter fron Michael & Kurt Bohlsen

H2O By:Great Restaurants

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July 1, 2011

Dear Long Island Diner:

In our fourth annual letter about what we believe it takes to be successful on the Long Island dining scene, we share three core beliefs at the heart of the Bohlsen Restaurant Group.

We believe good restaurants must also be good citizens rooted in the local community. Each of our restaurants in Huntington, Islip, East Islip and Smithtown play an integral role in their town or village. We hire local people, buy from local purveyors and see many local faces day in and day out.  Our restaurants are cornerstones of the communities in which we live and work. Yet running a restaurant the locals can be proud to call their own is not enough, especially in these economic times.

Our restaurants work hard at finding a little extra time to raise money and awareness for local causes.
This October, we will embark on our fourth annual Think Pink fundraiser. We run themed menus that feature ingredients known to be high in antioxidants and adorn each restaurant with pink accents.
We do this to raise money for local Breast Cancer Coalitions donating more than $50,000 over the past three years.

We have raised funds and attention for the North Shore Animal League with guest of honor Beth Ostrosky-Stern, the Clark Gillies Children’s Emergency Care Center, and Long Island Cares/The Harry Chapin Food Bank with Huntington Has Taste which also supports and profiles other local businesses.
Yet one event that seemed to touch so many this year was the Long Island Hospitality Ball. I was fortunate to be asked by hospitality industry leader Keith Hart to join the Executive Committee. We worked hard for a calendar year putting together a fantastic event surpassing our own lofty ambitions. Over 50 restaurants, bars, lounges, clubs, entertainers and distributors got together to pull off the Party of the Year, raising more than $170,000 for the American Cancer Society. It is amazing to see what our industry can do when we put our heads, hands and hearts together. We’re already looking forward to next year, so save the date: Monday, June 18, 2012.

We believe in delivering on high expectations, yours and ours. While our industry continues to give back, we feel the pinch ourselves more now than ever. Today’s restaurant landscape is marked by two proverbial “800-pound gorillas in the room”. If you have been food shopping lately, you are aware the price of groceries has skyrocketed. The price of some goods every restaurant uses have gone up 50% or more in the last six months alone. This has forced restaurant operators to raise their prices at a time when most of our guests are tightening their belts.

Higher menu prices mean higher expectations too. We are in a new world where entrees are listed routinely for over $20; steaks well above even that number. How do you provide value when you keep being forced to raise your prices? It’s not easy.

We pay personal attention to each and every guest, anticipate their needs, serve them food that, at whatever price we have to charge, can be seen as a value once the meal is done. We are aware of the financial strain our communities are under and know it may be a while until the day is a bit brighter.

These pressures are helping to shape what our guests expect from their night out.  It is the basis of our third belief: successful restaurateurs not only stay on the pulse of what our diners eat, but what they think and feel too so that we can anticipate what they will want next.

We believe the restaurant experience is no longer simply the stop before the night out. These days, the restaurant experience is the whole night out.  We see our guests enjoying a fine meal in a fine venue but one that also provides fine entertainment, be it live music before the meal, late night DJ afterwards, a view of the action in the kitchen or a movie along the harbor.

It is these observations that helped shape our newest venture for Long Island dining. Monsoon. Slated to open in Babylon Village, in early 2012, Monsoon will feature a light show worthy of the Vanderbilt Planetarium, and entertainment package to engage your senses, and a bar with two enormous moving chandeliers.

Yet it’s also about another one of our core beliefs: really great food. The Asian-themed menu will feature some of the best dishes we discovered travelling through Asia to make this concept truly authentic. Among the scores of dishes designed to excite and entertain our diners’ palettes are Millionaire’s Curry Crab from the best street restaurant in Bangkok, Bahn Xeo and Shaking Beef from Vietnam, and Hong Kong’s Under the Bridge Chili Crab.

Come see what we see as a restaurant of the 21st century, making use of all of the toys technology has to
offer us, while taking some of the oldest and most tried and true Asian dishes, and bringing them,
the Bohlsen way, to Long Island.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our restaurants, at one of our charity fundraisers or at the opening of Monsoon.  We continue to work hard to find ways to provide value, entertainment and hospitality while delivering you a meal you can count on to exceed your expectations.

Happy dining!

Sincerely,
Michael Bohlsen and Kurt Bohlsen

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