Creating The Sensory Experience

The Jewish News
Mary Meldrum

Mary Meldrum

2941 Street Food – 29N/41E is the general longitude and latitude for the Mediterranean and Mideast.

The first 2941 Street Food restaurant opened in Rochester Hills in 2015, quickly followed by locations in Birmingham and Midtown Detroit. One just opened in Auburn Hills and another in Bloomfield Hills is scheduled to open in August.

This rapid-fire beginning is not the folly of an over-enthusiastic amateur. On the contrary, this is the highly researched and calculated creation of Certified Six Sigma Green Belt and Chef Jacques Van Staden. His Six Sigma Green Belt confirms his commitment to quality and the positive impact it will have on his organization.
The Six Sigma focus on improved quality and efficiency is not typically applied to the food and beverage service industry, but by the instant success and prosperity of 2941 Street Food, it is clear it can be adapted and leveraged.

Van Staden spent five years as the vice president of food and beverage for Celebrity Cruises, where he oversaw 12,000 meals per day per ship, 15,000 employees and a $150 million food budget.
“In my first year with Celebrity, I flew about 927,000 miles meeting with each ship’s staff, cooks, vendors and recruiters. For me, the biggest thing that we had to change when we were there was the culture. Culture is what makes or breaks everything.

“It was pretty intense!” The schedules, the travel and the pressure took a toll on his family life.

In 1997, Van Staden met a Lebanese friend, and they began talking about Middle Eastern food. He became intrigued with this ethnic food and buckled down and studied Middle Eastern food for a year.

“I really fell in love with it and developed a true passion for it,” he said.

That year, he and his friend opened Café Ole in Washington, D.C., serving Mediterranean small plates. Over the years, he honed his skills in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. While he was becoming more knowledgeable and passionate about the cuisine, he was also becoming more frustrated with it because it has never evolved in Western restaurants.

“If you go to Turkey and Lebanon and eat the street food there, it’s amazing. You can’t compare.”

The concept of 2941 Street Food was hatched as Chef Jacques set his sights on one day opening a restaurant that would show what an evolved concept of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine could be. The spices fill the air when you walk in the door, and samoon bread is baked daily on the premises.

“This concept has been developing in my mind for the past 10 years. I knew I wanted it to be fast-casual, and I wanted to serve truly honest, wholesome chow. I gave up a long time ago trying to please people; that is not the objective,” he says. “The objective is to create a sensory experience.”

He has taken Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and given it a twist without compromising quality and professional techniques of cooking. He has applied his Six Sigma Green Belt knowledge to the design and layout of the kitchen as well as the efficiency of the food service with an eye on the goal of zero waste.

Van Staden cites consistency as one of the key aspects to success. To attain consistency in his multiple restaurants, he opened a central kitchen in Troy.

“What I learned at Celebrity Cruises allows me to be able to do this,” he says. When he says “this,” he is referring to something much bigger than opening five stores. The five 2941 Street Food locations he has established are just the first baby steps of what is to come. Next year, he’ll open restaurants in Las Vegas, Chicago and Miami.

“2941 is going to be a national brand. That is really our ultimate goal,” he says.

2941 Street Food
2941 Rochester Hills
87 W. Auburn Road

2941 Birmingham
176 Old Woodward
248-885-8869

2941 Midtown Detroit
4219 Woodward Ave.
http://2941streetfood.com

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