Ocean Prime in Atlanta is one of a
number of Mitchell’s popular concepts.
How do you accommodate gluten-free customers?
We were pioneering gluten-free years ago. All of our restaurants
offer gluten-free menus. The response has really surprised us. It
used to be that you always made sure that you had a vegetarian
item on the menu. Now, for every one vegetarian dish we sell,
we sell 10 gluten-free dishes. A lot of people come to our restaurants specifically for the gluten-free offerings. I’m not sure
what’s happening to cause this shift, but I think that if you’re
not doing gluten-free right now, you’re really behind the curve.
How do you focus on your community?
One of the pillars of our company culture is to support our
community. We’re very charitable and have given millions of
dollars over the years to our communities. We’re always involved in fundraisers and charity events. It’s the give-back that
I think any responsible business would do. It’s a natural for us.
We have an off-premise catering company that handles a lot of
that, which was also a natural evolution of the business.
How long have you had the catering company?
About 10 years. It made sense to be able to handle parties,
charitable events, etc. It’s been a terrific business for us over
What advice do you have for today’s
Be aggressive. Try just about anything: radio and TV demonstrations, charitable events, etc.
What’s one of the biggest marketing mistakes
Placing ads in newspapers or magazines when the ad doesn’t
really say anything, doesn’t make people think, doesn’t have a
call to action, doesn’t represent the restaurant well and doesn’t
help drive the identity. In all of our ads, we’re always working
our company image. We have a healthy, strong image as a very
charitable company and as a great company to work for. If we
win an award as one of the best places to work, that in itself is
a great marketing piece. The brand image is everything, and
that takes years to build and days to ruin. We handle all of
that with kid gloves and tend to it like a farmer would tend
to his crops.
Liz Barrett is PMQ’s editor at large.
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