"We source thoughtfully and prepare our items from scratch."Myra Ghattas
Food had always played a meaningful role in Myra Ghattas' life. But she never intended to make a career of it. When she was growing up in New Mexico, her aim was law school, but high school and college restaurant jobs followed by great success with an international resort brand led to a fork in the road — and hospitality won out.
For many years, career opportunities took Ghattas far from New Mexico. But, eventually, longing for home tugged at her. So did a desire to take after her parents and run her own business. In 2005, she opened Slate Street Café, which grew to include a satellite operation in the Albuquerque Museum of Art & History. Last January, aided by General Manager Patrick Martin, she launched Sixty-Six Acres.
Q&A with Myra Ghattas
How are your operations similar? How do they differ?
MG: Slate Street serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch; has an award-winning wine program; and offers catering and special events. Its customers include a strong weekday business crowd, locals and wine lovers.
Sixty-Six Acres has a single menu and daily lunch and dinner service. It offers New Mexican distilled spirits, local craft beers and house-batched cocktails. Diverse shareables, a happy hour and its large patio facilitate socializing. There's also a retail component that features New Mexican spirits, beers, growlers and souvenirs. Tourists and locals are its primary customers.
For both concepts, we're huge supporters of our local community and local purveyors. We source thoughtfully and prepare our items from scratch.
What are some of the biggest challenges operators face today?
MG: We're seeing trends toward fast-casual foodservice and counter service because labor's getting too expensive — and labor costs continue to increase significantly. It's also difficult finding qualified people to fill positions. Other challenges include rising food and insurance costs, which increase annually.
How do you try to combat those challenges?
MG: We attract good people through our culture and the type of restaurants we operate. Food costs are hard to keep up with, but we continue to reevaluate them and are looking into Shamrock Foods' Menu Wizard as a solution.
"Shamrock Foods has offered training and marketing support on how to improve other parts of our business that, in turn, will result in overall increases in sales."Myra Ghattas
You've partnered with Shamrock Foods for several years. how does that partnership support your company's growth?
MG: Shamrock Foods Sales Representatives have been key to our growth process and are exceptional.
What sets you apart from your competition?
MG: We're local and independent with ties to our community. The quality and types of food served are unique. We differentiate ourselves via our culture that's reflected in our service and overall commitment. Our entire team is part of what we're doing, and they all believe in it.
What food and beverage trends are you implementing?
MG: Bowls and flatbreads. We embrace local foods. We're starting a fresh-herb container garden on our patio. And we're making batch cocktails, which are a growing trend.
Does Shamrock Foods play a role in your catering?
MG: We often use Shamrock Foods products in our large catering operation. Shamrock Foods will also support our major off-site catering event this year, which will be a huge help.
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