The COO Leadership Of Building A Brand
In 2017, celebrity chef and butcher Nusret Gökçe’s became an internet sensation when he showed his unique way of sprinkling salt, and became known as “Salt Bae.” He now has more than 53 million followers on Instagram and Nusr-Et Steakhouse is a premier dining experience with a total of 28 restaurants in 7 countries including the U.S., Turkey, United Kingdom, UAE, Qatar, Saudi and Greece, and nearly 2,500 employees.
Within the last three years, Nusr-Et has opened 10 new restaurants all over the world. The first Nusr-Et restaurant opened in Turkey in 2010, taking the local culinary community by storm thanks to chef’s commitment to using only the highest quality meat, heartfelt work ethic and talent for theatrics.
What does it take for a restaurant to be successful in various markets across the U.S. and globally? Al Avci, the Chief Operating Officer at Nusr-Et USA, began his career at Nusr-Et in 2018 as Director of Operations in the U.S., shares an update on the Nusr-Et brand, growth in various markets across the country, and what is next globally.
What makes the Nusr-Et restaurant experience so unique?
What makes Nusr-Et so special is the combination of the quality of our meat and the experience when you dine with us. The menu is curated by visionary butcher-chef Nusret Gökçe himself. Each dish embodies the seamless integration of premium cuts, legendary ingredients, authentic local flavors, and unparalleled creativity, setting us apart from other steakhouses.
At Nusr-Et Steakhouse, we hold our meat selection to the highest standards, and at every U.S. location, our menu consists of American Wagyu steaks. Our innovative double-elimination process guarantees only the most exceptional cuts make it to the customers’ plate. Each piece of meat can be traced back to its source and precisely mapped to the specific location it’s served, allowing customers to appreciate the journey from our farms to their fork. In addition to the quality of the meat, we cook with a char-grill at 6 out of the 7 U.S. locations and serve fresh baklava from Gaziant2ep in every restaurant.
What does the Nusr-Et brand portfolio look like?
It is an exciting time for the Nusr-Et brand as we seek to define our next chapter – doubling down on what made our brand unique and exploring new ways to attract consumers to our restaurants in the U.S. For example, we will soon be bringing Eating Dancing to Miami and New York City, after our pilot in Mykonos this past Summer.
Since its start, Nusr-Et has experienced rapid growth and quickly has become a globally recognized business.
What is the state of overall operations in the U.S.?
Today, the U.S. is our second largest market with restaurants in Miami, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and New York City, to name a few locations. Within the last three years, Nusr-Et has opened 10 new restaurants all over the world. Within the U.S., we have seen 38% growth between 2018 and 2022 with no plans for slowing down any time soon.
Discuss your commitment to the U.S. market. What’s next?
We are committed to the U.S. market. We are building on what has made the Nusr-Et brand so special, like the same amazing quality of food and music in the restaurants, while adding new elements, new cocktails, and a revamped wine list and menu across various price points.
Up next, we are planning to refurbish both landmark properties in both Miami and New York City, within the next 12-18 months with our Eating Dancing concept. Also, we are continuing to invest in our gourmet burger brand, Saltbae Burger, with 40 locations planned globally over the next three years.
How has the brand been able to rapidly expand on a global scale so quickly?
Nusr-Et continues to invest in its team and is expanding the team across HR and Marketing, Finance, Legal and Operations at Headquarters in Istanbul. I’m building our team in the U.S.
Within the last three years alone – Nusr-Et has opened 10 new restaurants all over the world. Looking ahead, to further strengthen these expansion efforts on a global scale, we’ve hired a Business Development Director to grow Saltbae Burger, Dolce Patisserie, and Kebapçı Restaurant on a global level.
What’s next for the Nusr-Et brand?
We are excited about our next chapter. We are expanding the global footprint of the Nusr-Et restaurants in Sao Paulo, Ibiza residential and dining complex, Rome, Milano, Paris. Also, we are focused on doubling down on the growth of SaltBae Burger and are soon planning to expand the Nusr-Et portfolio in new and exciting ways.
What trends do you see within the gourmet industry? How is Nusr-Et catering to customers across the globe?
In recent years, we have seen Wagyu steak served by the ounce become a trend within the gourmet industry. Nusr-Et Steakhouse is the pioneer of this trend. Most steakhouses or restaurants offer only 1 type of Wagyu cut on their menu, whereas most of our steak selection consists of American Wagyu choices.
The other trend we’re seeing is “eatertainment” – where guests not only want to dine but continue their experience with a fun, exciting atmosphere of music, dancing, and entertainment in the same location. In response, we introduced “Eating Dancing,” in Mykonos an after-hours, lounge concept to add to the dining experience. Instead of having dinner and going to a club, we’re bringing the club to our guests.
What’s the essential kitchen equipment for your restaurants?
At the heart of our kitchen is the charcoal grill. Our team uses 100% Mexican charcoal because it offers the highest BTU, which generates more heat and burns at a slower rate – offering an extremely unique gourmet experience. As we grill our high-marble steaks, the drippings from the marbling hit the high-heat charcoal and create a special smoke that enhances the steak’s flavor. Each steak is carefully rotated so this flavor is perfectly and evenly distributed.
An important part of the charcoal grilling process is the hood system we use, which is very specific and requires substantial maintenance. These hoods are not widely used by restaurants due to the maintenance process. We acquire a permit for these hoods in each restaurant
Another essential part of our kitchen is the refrigerated meat display, which allows our guests to see the high-quality meat before it is prepared. We value quality throughout the entire process, from how we present the meat to how we cook it, leaving no stone unturned in ensuring the ideal cooking experience.
Which POS, front-of-house systems do you use?
We are using Micros point of sale system at all our locations.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other restaurateurs/chefs?
Pair great food with an amazing experience. At Nusr-Et Steakhouse, we pride ourselves on intertwining impeccable service with entertainment, so every visit becomes a cherished memory for the guest.