The reputation of the Steakhouse as a whole is one that has always leaned a little older, more establishment and of a certain status. Typically, a place of celebration, whether it’s a graduation, a birthday, anniversary or work party. Prime steak has often been thought of as a luxury item and a steakhouse a status symbol dining establishment.
For this installment of “What’s at Steak,” we talked with Landry’s James Hamilton, Sr. Vice President & Chief Operating Officer and Scott Tarwater, Corporate Director of Wine about The Palm restaurant chain, something they recently acquired. (Landry’s owns several other steakhouse chains including Morton’s, Mastro’s and Del Frisco’s).
What's the story you'd like everyone to know about The Palm?
The Palm is a true example of “The American Dream,” and is a dining tradition that has been passed down for generations. In 1926, two Italian immigrants opened an Italian restaurant on Second Avenue in New York City, where local cartoonists would draw caricatures on the walls of the restaurant in exchange for dinner. The Palm originally did not offer menus, so any dish that was requested by a guest is what was prepared. One day, a guest requested a steak, so John Gazzi simply walked across the street to the butcher, and from that moment, the first “White Tablecloth” steakhouse in America was born.
In the 1960s, George Bush Sr. became a regular patron of The Palm while serving for the United Nations, and asked Wally Ganzi if he would open a location in Washington D.C., where he would begin working in the next year. Ganzi and his family moved to D.C. to open the second location, and this began The Palm’s expansion from coast to coast.
Since the opening of the first location, The Palm has maintained its commitment to meet all of its guests’ requests, which the restaurant was born.
In addition to what James said, The Palm was recently recognized as the single best steaks offered in a steakhouse chain in America (several of our concepts made the top ten, but The Palm won overall best. (Mashed.Com)
Wow! That’s pretty cool. So, what really differentiates The Palm from other Steakhouses?
The Palm is the first Italian steakhouse that offers heritage recipes stemming from Parma, Italy. Whether guests are meeting old or new friends, closing business deals, or celebrating family milestones, The Palm is a restaurant where guests have the opportunity to relax while also enjoying high-end steakhouse and seafood fare, hand crafted cocktails, and Award-Winning wines in a “speak easy,” clubby ambiance.
To enhance the ambiance James spoke on the interior features caricatures abound, on nearly every wall, a fascinating tour as you walk through and see each one. Every location has a different set, and still adding them as we speak.
Definitely one of our favorite things about The Palm. If you had to describe The Palm in one word or phrase what would it be?
The Original Cool.
Do you have a favorite “go to” food and wine match?
The 48 oz Prime Porterhouse steak, sliced table side, with our Lobster Gnocchi is a delicious combination, and pairs nicely with any of our big Cabernet Sauvignons or Bourbons.
My recommendation is the 26oz bone in ribeye, with one of The Mark Wine Group's bold, in your face California Cabs, with sides of scalloped potatoes, and wild mushroom.
Is there one grape varietal that you think everyone should try?
I wish more people tried the Barbera Grape from the Piemonte Region of Italy. It is beautifully suited to a wide variety of food styles from the obvious (Italian) to the not so obvious of good old fashioned steak. The Barbera has nice weight on the palate, dark fruit aromas and flavors and a silky, polished mouthfeel. I think it is similar in a lot of ways to a well-made American merlot.
Can’t beat that traditional combo and we have a fabulous one; our Pertinace Barbera D’Alba currently by the bottle on your wine list. The Palm does a lot of wine events and promotions. How do you decide on these?
To start our vast network of relationships, always helps us stay current, and on point to trends. We tap into these relationships to explore their capabilities with virtual events, live events and often find a seasonal tie in, for our marketing teams to enhance. We are always looking for experiential events, and the opportunities are boundless.
How important are these wine events to The Palm?
As mentioned above, we aim to provide an experience that can’t be found or curated without our expertise and vast network of winery contacts. Wine events are vital to our sales, but most importantly, they provide the guests with a few hours away from everyday life to relax and enjoy a memorable night out. Guests, from the baby boomers to the millennials want more than just dinner, they want and enjoy being educated, being entertained and more and more being a part of a movement especially if we tie the events to a charitable quotient, like Breast Cancer Awareness, CORE which helps feed out of work restaurant industry people.
The Palm is pretty famous for its cellar and celebrities. Any fun stories?
Oh absolutely! From movies being filmed in D.C. with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep to Jon Bon Jovi singing “Happy Birthday” to a Jersey girl in Vegas to Kobe Bryant’s 81 Olives commercial to Fred Astaire dancing on the bar in West Hollywood during the restaurant’s opening, and many more – There are too many legendary stories to narrow down to simply one, but The Palm has seen it all.
My favorite fun fact is that several “family” portraits have been adjusted to reflect new wives or husbands.