Paul Verciglio readily admits it's not advanced calculus: offer restaurant patrons a high-quality steak -- a big steak -- with top-notch service and you'll attract customers willing to pay premium prices.
"You pay attention to the details -- not to the steak sauce," said Verciglio, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. "People will be impressed."
Verciglio and Hyatt owner Paul Snyder Sr. will see how moved people are to sample red meat, chicken and lobster measured by the pound beginning today.
E.B. Green's Restaurant, a staple at the Main Street hotel since it opened a decade ago, is now E.B. Green's Steakhouse, and make no mistake, red meat is king of this fine food purveyor.
"We've researched this concept for a long time; we even put a bunch of us in a car and drove to Cleveland to Morton's," Verciglio said, a reference to the well-known Chicago-based steakhouse chain.
The Hyatt Corp. obviously likes what it sees in Green's Steakhouse; if the concept is successful here, it could find its way into a number of the 103 Hyatts nationwide.
"If E.B. Green's is successful, other Hyatts will want to take advantage of its success," said Eve West, divisional director of training and development for Hyatt. Ms. West was in Buffalo this week to offer five days of fast-paced training to about 30 Green's employees, everyone from the chefs to the busboys.
"They're getting an education in beef, including cuts and grades," Ms. West said. "We want them to be experts on product."
They better be. Waitresses and waiters, for example, will come to a patron's table with a cart showing the various cuts of certified Black Angus available and will recite the entire bill of fare while holding up a two-pound piece of Prime Rib, 20-ounce New York Strip, two-pound porterhouse, etc.
To get E.B. Green's ready for its new life, about $350,000 was spent on new equipment and renovation. The lounge was expanded and the rear of the restaurant, the Directors' Room, is now enclosed for private parties and meetings.
"We've reduced restaurant seating a bit, to 110, but doubled the seating at the bar to 24," Verciglio said. "We've also tripled the number of liquors and scotches available. We see an opportunity here for a steakhouse of this quality."
It is no secret that the steakhouse concept is, excuse the pun, on fire. Statistics from Restaurant Consulting Group, an Evanston, Ill.-based industry watcher, found that the number of upscale steakhouses in the United States jumped 8.6 percent last year to 868 from 799 in 1992.
"High-end prices put you in the fine dining establishment area," said Allan F. Hickok, a restaurant analyst in Minneapolis with Piper Jaffray Inc.
"With those prices, you eliminate a huge swatch of the American population; America is not about a $40 ticket. And at those prices you better create more than good food. It must be good food and a rewarding experience."
Snyder and Hyatt Corp. appear to have taken Hickok's advice to heart. The ambience and the high-quality food and service go on display today. But simplicity remains.
"It's a simple concept: a good grill and a good steak," Verciglio said.