Pen To Plate Studio all began in a South Florida kitchen and as they say, the rest is history. For Felipe Olmeta (aka “The Pen”) and Christina Scifo (aka “The Plate”), their business venture was meant to be something special.
Felipe Olmeta worked in a number of restaurant management positions to fund his true love: creation and design. While holding a number of posts in fine dining hotel lounges and gastro pubs, he was plotting his next chapter. He utilized his earnings from these jobs to fund a degree in Urban Planning with a minor in architecture. For the emerging visionary, that combination of on the job and classroom training has given him a unique ability at Pen To Plate to understand the needs of the entrepreneurial restaurateur.
Christina Scifo’s path to launching one of the industry’s fastest growing design firms took a different road. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, Scifo began working at some of the top restaurants in South Florida. Her stint at Boca Raton’s Maxwell’s Chophouse led to the executive chef’s role at Tranquility Bay Resort, where she was responsible for three different dining concepts. She then moved on to the Addison Steakhouse and Delray Beach’s Seagate Beach Club where she was responsible for three different dining concepts. That position gave her first-hand knowledge of a wide breadth of priorities that face today’s Pen To Plate customer base from food costs and scheduling to menu design and creation.
As with all great stories, Olmeta and Scifo’s paths crossed in 2011, when they both held management posts at Tryst in Delray. Olmeta then decided to strike out on his own to launch his own restaurant concept firm and recruited the gifted toque to share his vision for a different approach to restaurant design.
The Pen To Plate duo is supported by an all-star cast. The firm’s lead designer is Sunny Ryoo. The Pratt Institute graduate has brought ten years as a brand developer and graphic/web designer serving New York City’s fashion and restaurant industries to the venture. The Beverage specialist team consists of Juan Arbodela and Alyssa Sartor. Juan has a portfolio of success from the award-winning Employees Only and Macao, while Alyssa is the former owner of August Laura leading the charge in cocktail creativity. The firm’s Operation liaison is Jim Switzer, who brings extensive career experience from notable properties including the Hard Rock Cafe, Morton’s, The Balsams in New Hampshire and New York’s Mohonk Mountain House. Brooklyn College alum Jennifer Kufa brings an impressive operations record from noted New York City properties including Porchlight and formerly Pure Food and Wine. Pen To Plate’s clients can expect wine pairing guidance by Ted Rutledge. The Bar Boulud sommelier has built a reputation as one of the industry’s most knowledgeable wine experts.
Pen To Plate currently finds itself focused on a project for a hip spirit concept located in Noho. With a 2019 opening, the Pen To Plate team is cresting a full restaurant food and beverage operation plan for the unique downtown establishment.
Among the priorities for Pen To Plate is the balance of technology and traditional hospitality. “We do find ourselves thinking about what we should be looking at in regards to merging design for long-term operation plans,” noted Olmeta. “We also see the challenges that our customers are facing as they look at an increase in minimum wage,” added Scifo. Key trends include Pen To Plate’s response to the impact of green and sustainable agendas. “From the onset, when we all go into a space and then create the renderings for our clients, we are visualizing the proper use of materials and colors to accomplish that goal,”
With competition among restaurants fiercer than ever, Pen To Plate enables a visionary operator to create a signature. “With our experience, both working in restaurants and design, our goal is to craft a successful restaurant that breathes life into the client’s vision with unique and authentic food and design,” Scifo concluded.
To learn more about Pen To Plate Studio, please visit their website.