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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- I'm no food critic by any stretch but I do know when I'm having a nice night out after a long, hard week. And Saturday was unforgettable.

On April 1, my husband and I dined at the Chef's Loft at the Stone House, a picturesque restaurant nestled in a mirage-like sanctuary over a footbridge with sweeping views of Clove Lakes Park. It was an early birthday celebration for me.

I've been to Stone House for dinner many times with family and for innumerable work lunches or with girlfriends, but the Chef's Loft is in a league of its own. The crowd is intimate -- only up to 16 people per evening -- and the out-of-this-world food is prepared right in front of you by chef and owner, Peter Botros.

In short, it's an amazing and unique dining experience. I felt like a movie star with a private chef.

At $125 a head, will this S.I. restaurant concept work?

An open letter to the Stone House introduces an ambitious new dining experience to the borough.

What did we have for dinner? When we were seated -- at a cozy table with a bird's eye view of the sold-out main dining room (admittedly, I often looked down to see if I knew anyone in the crowd) -- there was already cheddar and chose biscuits with horseradish butter waiting for us.

It was followed by an asparagus salad with bocconcini and crispy prosciutto. I'd never had the Italian ham not on a melon before and not for brunch before. Delicious!

Opening a Restaurant ... Inside a Restaurant?

WHY ONE RESTAURATEUR OPENED A SECOND RESTAURANT WITHIN HIS FIRST.
By Peter BotrosApril 2017Vendor Bylines

Anyone who has ever dreamt of opening a restaurant has also fantasized about growing into a mini restaurant empire. Unfortunately for the overwhelming majority of those who try their hand at the restaurant business, a fantasy is exactly how it remains.

It takes hard work, dedication, talent, and a sprinkle of luck to make it. But for those who are lucky enough and have worked hard enough to succeed, what's next?

For many of us, getting through the first year is a badge of honor, and if you're as crazy as I am, you start to think about opening your second location.

You convince yourself that you can duplicate the principles that made you successful in your flagship restaurant. Perhaps one of the most important lessons you learn is that the money going out is far more important than the money coming in.

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency

To be a successful restaurant in New York City, it's a must that you maximize employee productivity, minimize waste, and generate as much revenue as possible with the space you have. Investing in Restaurant POS Systems will really help excel your restaurant to the next level.

After doing a pretty good job of all that I began looking for space for my second baby. While narrowing down my search, I had a moment of deep reflection. Who was I going to hire for this next project? Would I be as lucky as I had already been with staffing? Would I be able to manage both locations effectively?

One day, I walked out of my office to speak to my event coordinator. Her desk was in a second-floor storage area above our main dining room. That's when it hit me I was going to open my second location inside my first. I would turn the office space into an exclusive restaurant inside my existing restaurant.

Chef's Loft at The Stone House was born. Chef's Loft is a boutique restaurant that is incredibly intimate and boasts a five-course wine-paired tasting menu that is prepared in the room while guests look on. The menu changes each month and features uniquely innovative dishes, expertly paired with wines that complement the dish's flavors. We adorned the walls with a mosaic compilation of wine corks and broken-down wooden wine boxes. It also houses a show-stopping, two-ton illuminated Himalayan salt wall. The list of reasons why this was a good idea just kept growing. Much of the fear and uncertainty vanished. I could eliminate the need to sign my life away to rent another location. I could eliminate the need to undertake an extremely pricey and time-consuming build-out. That's hundreds of thousands of dollars saved. I wouldn't need to go out and hire an entire staff, and I could avoid all the growing pains that go along with that process. It is also a great idea to do some price comparisons for your business's energy bills. A friend told me they used websites such as Usave to find some wonderful quotes to keep outgoings down.

Who says you can't be in two places at once? With the opening of the new restaurant, now I can be.

On top of all the benefits I already mentioned, maybe the most important aspect is the all-important buzz. New restaurants can have amazing food that is kept fresh by fridges from websites similar to https://www.altarefrigeration.com/expert/, impeccable service, and great ambiance, but if there is no buzz created, no one will be there for the experience. New restaurants can have amazing food, impeccable service, and great ambiance, but if there is no buzz created, no one will be there for the experience.

Being bold in the restaurant biz always garners attention and publicity. The key is to go all in. Own the concept whole-heartedly. There needs to be a concrete differentiation between your existing restaurant and the newly minted entity. A new name, a new concept, and a new menu. Your menu has to be unique to your restaurant and what you want to showcase to your customers. Something similar to this restaurant guide should help you to create a memorable and everlasting menu. The social media and web presence need to mirror that sentiment.

In my case, the buzz generated by opening Chef's Loft far exceeds our capacity. We are currently 8 to 10 weeks out for reservations all while building a book of permanent reservations that will result in the "Rao's" effect by the end of 2017 if we continue at our current pace.

The question now is what will I do for my third location?