On this episode of The Quest for New Inspiration, I am joined by author Nick Mautone. We discuss his work in the hospitality industry as well as his management and leadership style. Not to mention we chat about the importance of good old fashion networking.
With 40 years of hospitality industry experience, Nick Mautone believes in the power of mentorship, leadership, collaboration, and possibility. Nick is the architect of an inventive process called "Hospitality Sabermetrics" - think Moneyball for Hospitality and has a sixth sense when it comes to foreseeing trends. He is known for nurturing sustained success, streamlining operations, and aligning core values in every sort of hospitality business. For Nick Mautone, the spark came as a young kid growing up in Mt. Vernon, NY where he spent weekends making cheese and handmade pasta for his dad's specialty food business. While he dreamed of becoming a NASA scientist (and still loves looking up at the stars), he worked his way through school in restaurants-bussing tables and backing bars. Eventually he and his siblings opened an innovative pizzeria, American Pie, on the Upper West Side. Science became a hobby, and restaurants became his life. Since then, Nick has worked with some of the most iconic and influential restaurants in the world including Gotham Bar & Grill, Hudson River Club, and most notably, Gramercy Tavern where he was managing partner alongside Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio for seven years and helped define and nurture a fledgling idea Danny and the group coined called "Enlightened Hospitality."
With decades of experience behind him, in 2003, Nick founded his management and consulting business, Mautone Enterprises. The business was born of a desire to share his process, experience, mentorship, and leadership. Whether building a strong foundation for a first-time restaurateur, or turning around a big ship on the wrong course, for Nick the process is about grass roots collaboration, helping chefs and owners come together, developing systems for success, and digging deep into the numbers and the P&L, to uncover what needs to be tweaked, edited, or completely uprooted, delivering holistic success-including profitability, streamlined and efficient operations, a sense of community, harmony, and growth among all staff, and sustainability of concept.
Over the years his clients have included The Television Food Network, and separately celebrity chef Rachael Ray, The Atlantic Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, 6-Penn Kitchen in Pittsburgh, Citarella, Geoffrey Zacharian's The Carlton Hotel and Country in midtown Manhattan, il Buco in Noho, Apiary in the East Village, the Park Central Hotel and its boutique sibling, the West House, Southgate at the Jumeirah Essex House Hotel, and Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago. In 2013, Nick was tapped by CohnReznick LLP, one of the largest accounting firms in the US, to become its hospitality guru-essentially bringing him into projects in need of restaurant therapy and guiding those in the throes of the opening process, working with brands such as The Standard Hotel.
Most recently, Nick was brought on by the global real estate firm Tishman Speyer to rebrand, reimage, retool, and reinvent the historic Rainbow Room. Under his leadership, the Rainbow Room was reinvigorated as a true historic icon and one of the top 50 highest grossing food service establishments in the world. For the first time in its history, Tishman created a new position for Nick-Managing Director of Hospitality-where he continued to oversee the iconic Rainbow Room, assisting on the new vision and retail renovation of Rockefeller Center and advancing hospitality projects within the firm outside of NY.
In addition to restaurants, Nick has worked with numerous beverage companies to assist in their marketing & brand management, training of sales & distribution teams, new product development, trendspotting and mixology. He was the Grey Goose Brand Ambassador and On-Premise consultant from 2005 through 2012 and has worked with startup Brands VeeV Acai Vodka, Beleza Pura Cachaca and others. Nick is also an author of several books including "Raising the Bar; Better Drinks, Better Entertaining" (Artisan, 2004), and "The Artisan Kitchen: Holiday Cocktails" (Artisan 2017). "The Artisan Kitchen: Summer Cocktails" in (Artisan - Spring 2021), and "The Artisan Kitchen: Classic Cocktails" (Artisan - Summer 2021). Nick is currently working on a couple of other books - "Sundays, Holidays and Meatballs," a family history and recipe book, and a memoir entitled "A Life Behind Bars: Lessons & Learnings from My 40 Year Journey in the Bar and Hospitality Business," along with a companion podcast. Nick is a strong believer in active participation in the community and has worked with many local and national charities. He has been an advisor and fundraiser to non-profits focused on childhood education and on hunger relief and poverty alleviation. These days, Nick lives outside Seattle where he hangs out with his family-his daughter Alexandra (28), son Nicholas (15), and wife Terri Ludwig. He is an avid reader and cyclist, and a terrible but enthusiastic amateur astronomer and science buff. His favorite pastimes also include pickle ball, paddle boarding, kayaking, and (hopefully, possibly, someday!) golf and tennis.