Prime Steak House founder goes home
January 21, 2009
In a very Jerry Seinfeld-like maneuver, Prime Steak House managing owner Bryan Morgan decided it was a good time to leave Park City after receiving Best Steak House in Utah 2008 in the Salt Lake Magazine Dining Awards.
After years of being a major player in the town’s restaurant scene, Morgan took advantage of an opportunity to return to his home town of Saranac Lake, New York and take over a struggling restaurant there.
The restaurant will continue under the management of Meghan McComas, who worked with Morgan for several years.
In June, his brother (Morgan has 11 siblings) tipped him off to a possible opportunity to buy what had been the town’s favorite eatery for the past 30 years. The owner died in July, Morgan made his move, and by November Mexican food replaced steak in his life.
"It’s a dream come true," Morgan said.
Many restaurateurs dream of being named the best anything in Utah, but Saranac Lake isn’t just any town, he said.
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Inside the Adirondack Preserve and about 10 miles from Lake Placid, it’s "God’s country," he said. Not being a very large town, his family has been a prominent part of the community. A few of his siblings have been Olympians, his parents ran a restaurant together and his brother and sister have a restaurant on the other side of town from his new venture. The Casa Del Sol was the best place in town while he was growing up, he said.
Google the restaurant today, however, and you’ll see a lot of negative reviews. "Keep on driving" many say. The previous owner being in ill health, the restaurant wasn’t managed well the last five or six years, Morgan said. Having taken over since November, he’s open only four or five days a week and already has a two-hour wait in the evenings.
"It’s been rocking!" he said.
Morgan admits he doesn’t know anything about Mexican food, but then again, when he started in Park City he said he didn’t know much about steak either. The secret to running a successful restaurant, he said, is service.
"It’s about producing a product people rave about," he said.
When he eats out, he wants it to be a treat, an escape from his life. A restaurant can’t have problems because the customer is there to forget their problems.
A properly trained staff is the secret to creating that experience for people, he said.
"I think if you have happy people working for you, you’ll have happy food and happy customers," he joked.
To endure the struggles from the current economy a restaurateur must give 100 percent. Anything less, even slightly less, will result in failure. It’s an all or nothing game right now, he said.
Business owner Beth Moon frequents of the steak house and is a friend of Morgan’s. She said his commitment to excellence is evidenced by the fact that he has employees that have been around for nine years.
"For me, in any business, if you have an employee that stays with you that says something," she said.
Morgan and McComas emphasized that Parkites can still expect a commitment to quality and service from Prime Steak House. Morgan always had two partners in the business, and they simply bought him out. Minus Morgan, the restaurant is exactly the same. Much of the staff has been together for nine years.
"My husband and I tag team running this restaurant. It’s been my life for last four five years. Not much is different: All the same stuff, exact same service and all the same values we had before," McComas said.