Recently, I had the opportunity to review Bill’s Food and Drink restaurant, located in New York City. In the article, I mentioned the Chef and Partner, John Delucie. After dining in two of his famed restaurants, I knew I wanted to know more about him. Each time I dined in one of his restaurant I had a very warm and pleasant experience. John, now a friend of LuxuriousPROTOTYPE, was gracious enough to allow me to interview him and ask questions about the restaurant industry and his personal life.
Mr. Delucie is a New York City Chef and published author. His restaurant group, Crown Group Hospitality, has launched several projects in tandem with select hotels across the country.
A native New Yorker, John’s traditional Italian American family helped nurture his love of great food. His grandfather owned and operated a vegetable and grocery market in Brooklyn, and returned home each evening with a bounty of fresh, seasonal ingredients which his grandmother turned into a savory meal that brought family and friends together in a nightly ritual. Later, John attended a cooking class at the New School for Culinary Arts and his life’s passion was born.
LP: How did you get started in the restaurant business?
JD: 20 years ago after a decade in a sales career, I decided to make what was then a serious hobby into a career. I quit my day gig, enrolled in a class at the New School and got a job making sandwiches at Dean and Deluca. I made a sandwich for Lauren Hutton on my first day.
LP: How did your background shape you as an entrepreneur?
JD: My background in sales taught me about risk in business…nothing ventured, nothing gained.
LP: If you could have dinner with any in one of your restaurants, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
JD: Jimi Hendrix. He had an intellectual curiosity about music and life that was very progressive for his time.
LP: Are you working on any new business ventures?
JD: Always. At the moment, I’m working on a menu for the re-launch of the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel.
LP: It’s known that most restaurants in NYC close after a year because of tough competition. With successful restaurants under your belt, you have proved yourself to be an expert in the restaurant business. For example, Waverly Inn is a staple in Manhattan. What attributed to the huge success?
JD: I don’t think it’s the competition. Many people who enter the business are unprepared for the business realities. You always need more money than you think.
LP: What is your advice for a young entrepreneur? Specifically, one who is trying to get into the restaurant business?
JD: See above…and the best way actually is to work for a long time in the business as a host, or cook or reservationist. See it from the inside out, this way you’ll know if it’s really for you.
LP: All of your restaurants are beautifully designed. I love the club house/English estate feel. How did you and the interior design ultimately come up the look and feel of your restaurants?
JD: The space and its history will often tell you how it should look. We have very old buildings and we always try to respect that aspect.
With over 19 years in the business, John began his career in European kitchens, gaining experience in the food vernacular of Italy and France. He returned stateside and furthered his skills at several celebrated NYC eateries. Prior to opening The Lion in 2010, DeLucie was the Founding Chef and Partner of The Waverly Inn.
LP: Who is your favorite designer?
LP: Current favorite song?
JD: Right now “From Time” by Drake
LP: What is your favorite neighborhood in New York City?
JD: West Village and the Upper East Side
LP: What is your favorite destination to visit?
JD: I love Italy
DeLucie’s memoir, The Hunger: A Memoir of an Accidental Chef was released in 2009 and received rave reviews from the media. Articles by DeLucie have been printed in the New York Times, Black Book Magazine, and Gotham Magazine.
If you have not checked out one of his restaurants, you should! John is a man of great character and drive and it shows through his restaurants.