1125: Operator Chef Mark Grimes Offers Valuable Tips to DSRs and Distributors

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DSR Dave’s guest hosts, Bill Hornung and Steve Dahl talk with restaurant visionary Mark Grimes who has cooked for Presidents and Queens and “everyday Joe’s”. But regardless of the patrons he’s serving, Mark says he has relied on loyal relationships with DSRs to help him succeed.

In this DSR Live! classic interview, Mark talks about what drives him crazy about sales reps and on the opposite end, what would make him loyal to a rep and a distributor.

  • The most frustrating/insulting is when a DSR brings products in that have nothing to do with the concept of his place. It shows the DSR is only trying to sell or push his products on him without caring to know and have an interest in what type of food/concept he has!
  • The reverse is when a DSR commits to working a full or half day in Mark’s kitchen to see how he’s using say his produce to make sure it is the best choice for the application. This type of DSR is forging a partnership striving to make each of them more profitable.

His resume shows stints at Lettuce Us Entertain You, Maggiano’s Little Italy with Rich Melman, and The Pump Room in Chicago.

Now, Mark is the Founder & Executive Chef at the Che Figata, a laid-back “Italy to table” restaurant in Naperville, Illinois. The 275-seat restaurant (that number includes the lounge and outdoor seating) is the brainchild of Mark.

“Che Figata is millennial slang for something that’s totally cool, or totally awesome,” he said. “I want to create a modern Italian restaurant that pays homage to the Italian table. We’ll bring in fish from the Mediterranean and use as many Mediterranean ingredients as we can.”

Mark explains what separates the great DSRs from the good ones in his operation.  

  • Being tight with his account GM/chef so the DSR understands the products they’re using and notices spikes such as in glass breakage that’s gone up 10% in the last month and sending the Cardinal or Libby rep to see if it’s mishandling or something’s wrong versus the DSR who thinks to himself, just keep breaking them and I’ll keep selling them to you.
  • Spending the time needed at his place to know the concept and product usage well so when the DSR is in a new product presentation, they recognize a perfect product for his concept.
  • Coming into his restaurant once or twice a month to eat and give their professional feedback about the food (presentation, temperature, taste), service, etc.
  • Prefers a sample over brochure for new product information and the pricing with it.
  • A rep that becomes a partner.
  • And the last thing he wants to hear from a DSR when a DSR wants him to switch products for one reason… guess what that might be…

 DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!