BWW Interview: Curt Huegel Owner of HOST RESTAURANTS in NYC
Curt Huegel's passion for hospitality and keen eye for business has defined his career for over 25 years.
A New Jersey native, Huegel moved to New York City shortly after graduation from the University of Maryland, and opened his first venue, The Mill in 1992 on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Over the next several years, he broadened his hospitality portfolio to include concepts such as Rebar in New York City and Miami, and Dakota Bar and Grill and Local, both also located in Manhattan. Later, Huegel was instrumental in developing the expansion of the fast-casual concept, Lenny's, from two to 14 stores.
In 2008, Huegel founded LDV Hospitality, a nationally recognized hospitality company with brands such as Scarpetta, American Cut, Lugo Caffe, Dolce Italian and Corso Coffee. Under his leadership, LDV expanded globally and partnered with celebrity chefs like Alain Allegretti, Scott Conant and Marc Forgione.
In 2013, Huegel formed Host Restaurants, bringing together concepts including Bill's Townhouse, Campagnola, Printers Alley, Lucy's and Galli. The portfolio ranges from eateries with a storied New York City history and classic Italian cuisine, to new concepts, such as Printers Alley, which brings a Nashville- themed country music bar to Times Square (something Huegel always wanted to do, growing up listening to country music.) With each venture, Huegel keeps his customers top of mind, always striving to exceed his guests' expectations.
Huegel currently resides in Essex Fells, New Jersey with his wife and three daughters.
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Curt Huegel about his career and Host Restaurants.
What was your earliest interest in hospitality?
I started out working at a country club in high school... washing dishes, bartending, doing anything I could.
Who were some of your career mentors?
Unfortunately I didn't have any real mentors, more people that I worked with that I tried to learn what not to do from. From afar, having not worked with them, I liked Hanson for his detail and McNally for his elevated, but approachable, design.
What led you to opening such an array of different concepts?
Now, I really only own places that are authentic to me. Things that I love across the board; ice cold beer, tacos, country music, an Italian café, clubhouse style restaurants where you can be comfortable, quality approachable food and wine.
What do you consider the most distinguishing features of your work? You can mention what makes your approach to hospitality unique or what sets you apart from other restaurateurs.
I guess what sets me apart is that I'm not trying to be anyone else. At this point in my life, I'm looking to do quality places that resonate with not only me but, most importantly, my guests.
What is your favorite meal?
A little bowl of Rigatoni Bolognese, Veal Milanese, a bottle of a good light red wine and a bite of cake.
Tell us a little bit about your restaurants for our readers.
I could talk all day. I love my restaurants, all of them, like my kids. I am comfortable in them, but most importantly, I think my guests are comfortable and taken care of like family.
For more information on Host Restaurants, visit Campagnola, http://www.campagnola-nyc.com/; Bill's Townhouse, http://www.billstownhouse.com/; Printers Alley, http://www.printersalleynyc.com/; Lucy's Cantina Royale, http://www.lucyscantinaroyale.com/; Galli, http://www.gallirestaurant.com/.
Photo Credit: Credit D. Brandwein