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What do you like on the menu at the moment?

I’ve got this Brussels sprout salad with pine nuts and lemon juice and olive oil and shaved ricotta salata. It’s one of the dishes that you think, ‘Damn, this is awesome.’

How often do you change the menu at Landmarc?

Landmarc’s been around 10 years and it’s the true definition of a neighborhood restaurant, where 60 to 65 percent of the menu never changes, because if Joe from down the street comes in, he probably already knows what he’s going to get and doesn’t want to try anything new.

We have a lamb shank with celery root purée, roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon that I bring back every winter because people love it.

And my goat cheese profiteroles with sweet garlic have been on the menu since we opened. They got a lot of press and I haven’t been able to change them [because of their popularity].

Is that annoying?

I’m a restaurateur. It’s all about making customers happy. That’s our main goal here.

What’s the hardest part about opening a new restaurant?

It’s probably the training. When you have a restaurant going for years, it kind of has a self-teaching method, but with a new restaurant you have to teach everybody from the busboy to the line cook to the dishwasher. It’s about getting the information to the right people. It’s, ‘That guy wasn’t working yesterday so he doesn’t know how we do the napkins now.’

If someone’s doing the job incorrectly we have to look at ourselves and see if we’ve given them the tools they need.

There are so many moving parts at a restaurant and getting everything to go where we want it to go. It’s a good thing that it’s difficult or everyone would want to do it.

Does running five restaurants help with sourcing?

It definitely helps with purchasing power, and you can develop a relationship with a guy who’s farming oysters out on the East End of Long Island. I have the ability to demand higher quality and better ingredients, and that makes it a better experience for the customer in the end.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary