John Meadow has a very impressive resume. The New York native opened his first restaurant at the age of 24 and his first job out of college was the Food and Beverage Manager position at The Plaza.
Since then, he has built up a restaurant empire with business partner Curt Huegel in the form of LDV Hospitality. The duo is behind Scarpetta, Lugo Caffe, Lucy’s Cantina Royal, and various projects across Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Miami. We sat down with John to chat about the restaurant industry from a business angle.
You opened your first restaurant at the young age of 24. What are some tips you have for getting into the hospitality industry?
The biggest thing is having a good partner. My first partner was more experienced than I. Other than that: location. I started across Madison Square Garden. Then my next restaurant I signed was in the Meatpacking District and that became Scarpetta. That was the restaurant that put the company on the map and from there we started growing. But I think having the right team of people, the right vision, and right location are probably the three most critical parts.
How did you get into the restaurant scene?
I always wanted to be in the entrepreneuring realm. Restaurants and small businesses are very charming. I went to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. I got a formal education in the hospitality side and I went and worked at the Plaza Hotel. It was quite an experience working with the union and after a year and a half, I decided I wanted to open a business.
Were you guys affected by Hurricane Sandy?
Our neighborhoods of both New York City and Atlantic City were hit with a lot of damage. We’re really fortunate that we did not have any physical damage. Obviously, we lost a tremendous amount of business. We have nearly 1000 employees in our company and a lot of them were affected by this and it’s tough. The people you work with day in and day out, and of course the customer base, were affected. A lot of people are still going through a really hard time. The business is hurting.
You’ve worked with a lot of different chefs and a wide variety of cuisines and flavors. Your restaurant list includes Mexican, Japanese, and Italian among others. What’s your favorite?
I do love Italian food specifically because in its purest form, it’s possibly the most simple cuisine. It’s truly about having the best ingredients speak loudly for themselves. In the cuisine itself you put the ingredients before the chef. You put the ingredients before anything. It’s a very simple, heartfelt, sun-kissed, charming cuisine.