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Q&A

EXCLUSIVE FOODSERVICE INTERVIEW

Stratis Morfogen Restaurateur and Author

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n the restaurant world, Stratis Morfogen is an iconic name, known for his successful ventures that have always been a favorite among the New York City and Hamptons most discerning dining patrons. With several decades in the restaurant industry, Morfogen has seen it all and continues to create enticing places, making him one of the nation’s fastest evolving restaurateurs of our time. Since opening his own restaurant years ago, his resume includes a number of notable ventures. His latest focus is on his Brooklyn Chop House, which he considers the first dim sum, to chops type of steak house. Total Food Service caught up with Morfogen to talk about his background and new ventures! Can you please share your background with our readers? I’m a third generation restaurateur. My grandfather and his brothers owned Pappas restaurant from 1896 to 1970. My dad had 14 restaurants all through the metropolitan New York area. My brother Nick is a top-tier rated chef in the country. He won Food and Wine’s “Best Chef” in 1994, when he opened Ajax Tavern in Aspen. My uncle George was the buyer for Grand Central Oyster Bar, a best selling cookbook author and he was the foodie on the Dinah Shore Show. How did you decide this was for you? You know, it’s funny, I was just telling my daughters this story because they

Stratis Morfogen (R) poses in front of Brooklyn Chop House with partner Robert “Don Pooh” Cummins (Photo by Daniel Kwak)

didn’t do well in a class. I explained how I wasn’t a great student, and my father one day came to class when one of the teachers said they were concerned about my study habits because I have ADD. My father said, “You know what, he’s nine years old. What I’d like you to do is to come on a Friday night to one of my restaurants.” He went on to explain how I might not be good at algebra, but that I was good at interacting with guests on the floor. It was a natural thing for me - I loved it. You know I even finished high school in eleventh grade, just so you know, I doubled up my credits just to

56 • July 2019 • Total Food Service • www.totalfood.com

get out of school because I didn’t want to go to college and I wanted to just go right into the family business which was a few diners and restaurants at that time. I learned it from the bottom up - washing dishes, mopping floors, peeling shrimp and garlic, garnishing lemon and parsley on the dishes when I was six years old for a dollar a night. Busboy, server, bartender, you name it. I went right through the whole thing. I don’t remember having a weekend off in my teenage years because every Friday and Saturday I’d be working at the restaurant.

When did you decide to go out on your own? I was 20 when I went out on my own. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bug. I got offered the opportunity to take over all of the food and beverage operations at a 27-acre amusement park on Medford, Long Island called Kid’s Kingdom. I borrowed $25,000 from my father for the concessions and restaurant at the park. We featured birthday parties with hot dogs and hamburgers and teen discos that quickly turned a $5,000 a week business into a $35,000 a week one.

Profile for Total Food Service

July 2019 - Total Food Service  

From totalfood.com - Total Food Service's July 2019 Digital Issue features an exclusive Q&A Interview with restaurateur & author Stratis Mor...

July 2019 - Total Food Service  

From totalfood.com - Total Food Service's July 2019 Digital Issue features an exclusive Q&A Interview with restaurateur & author Stratis Mor...