Five Questions with Les Sablons
Les Sablons opened a year ago in the Harvard Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass., and it has already made a big impact. Les Sablons was also a semifinalist for the 2018 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.
The metropolitan restaurant is one of several successful ventures of Boston restaurateur Garrett Harker and the team behind Eastern Standard, Row 34, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Branch Line, and The Hawthorne. We spoke to Kelly Fay, Events Director for all of the restaurant group’s locations, about the story behind Les Sablons, the first year of operations, and their private events.
1. Tell us about your restaurant. What’s behind the name? How would you describe the food?
Les Sablons was named after the Paris Metro station. While there is certainly French influence shown throughout the menu, it also reflects international inspiration. e space itself was originally the conductor’s building, which was a part of the original Cambridge subway system.
2. What’s it been like to work for a brand-new restaurant in the first year? What’s your favorite part of this experience?
The first year of a restaurant is certainly never boring and a lot of hard work. It can be a challenging experience for even the most seasoned of restaurant professionals, as every restaurant has its own unique hurdles and learning curve. I think the best part is watching the restaurant and the sta develop over the past year and really grow as a team.
3. Opening a new restaurant is not easy, so the fact that you’ve opened a new restaurant and you’re a James Beard Award semifinalist is simply amazing. What’s it like being a semifinalist for this award? What do you think helped to place you at the top of the list?
It is truly an honor to be nominated especially with such great company. The incredible design by (architectural firm) Bentel & Bentel, amazing menu overseen by Chef Jeremy Sewall and the character of the historic building itself certainly lends to what most would see as the reason for our nomination. I’d like to think that another reason is the way that guests feel when they join us. We want to make sure that everyone who joins us feels like a part of our family and our story because they are.
4. Can you tell us about your private events business? How many events are you averaging a month? What types of events do you host the most?
While Les Sablons does not have a private dining room, we do offer a semi-private dining space, Grace Bowie (named from the art on the wall which includes photos of musician David Bowie and model Grace Jones). is area is separated from the main dining room by a curtain and can accommodate up to 40 guests for a seated meal. In addition to this area, we have the unique opportunity to rent each floor individually, and we are also available for a full restaurant buyout. Even without a private dining room, we host over a dozen events per month at this location. These are a great mix of standing receptions on our ground wine bar, seated dinners in Grace Bowie for local universities and social events, and we have also had some great corporate full restaurant buyouts over the past year. These larger scale events have really let us take some risks and experiment with the space to see what Les Sablons and our team can do.
5. How has Tripleseat helped you manage your private events? What’s been the most helpful feature?
Tripleseat is such an amazing tool that we have become accustomed to using at our other seven locations, so when it came time to open this restaurant, we knew we would be opening another account. It has really helped us to communicate with inquiring guests and present clear and consistent documents to both guests and our kitchen team with all of the upcoming event details. Both the chefs and front of house managers get together as a team weekly for our BEO meetings. In addition to looking at the events for the following week, we look at the events report of all upcoming events in the future and continue to discuss the ones to have on all of our radars even if months out. Another way we use Tripleseat reports is to export the accounts and contacts to see who our event guest base is and can then use that when directing marketing outreach initiatives.
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Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in Tripleseat’s Seated magazine, Spring 2018 issue.