One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about writing this blog is the emails from readers. Sure, some of them have been a bit barbed—“You are so wrong about that restaurant!”—but most have been complimentary. Such has been the case with Kip, a retired arts professor who resides in Radnor and is always quick to provide me with critic-like commentary.
He’s full of questions, and he really made me scratch my noggin recently when he asked what’s been the local hospitality sector’s biggest influence in the past 20 years. “And don’t tell me it was Le Bec-Fin earning five stars back in the day,” he said.
So, I thought about it …
Has it been the advent of super-restaurateurs like Stephen Starr, Marc Vetri, Jose Garces and others who have helped turn the Philly region into a destination? Maybe.
Was it the impact of 2000’s Republican National Convention, when it stampeded into town and generated thousands of new hotel rooms—and, thus, future visitors? Possibly.
Has it been the farm-to-table movement? The craft-beer explosion? The way we almost turn our chefs into venerated deities? I don’t think so.
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When I try to pinpoint the most influencing factor of all, I see it as those individuals who bring hospitality to the hospitality industry. I’ve yet to travel to a part of the United States where there aren’t many workers who are intensely passionate about cooking, cleaning, serving, transporting and being ambassadors. OK, so we’ll always find the raw rookie or the occasional unsmiling service rep, but, by and large, the men and women who propagate this industry do so unselfishly and unswervingly.
Yes, Stephen Starr and his many restaurants have produced countless fine meals for millions of customers. But not one of those plates would have been served—deliciously, I might add—if it weren’t for the talent and dedication of those staffing the fronts and backs of his houses.
In this, my final “Ask the Concierge” column, I thank Kip and every reader who has done just that—asked the concierge. I’m grateful to those who have read my posts, and I hope you’ve gotten something useful out of them.
Finally, I thank my fellow hospitality-industry brethren. My concierge recommendations have, and always will be, rooted in the experiences you bestow so successfully upon others.
Let’s continue to keep everyone well served!