OKLAHOMA CITY -- Anyone who's ever put together a menu for a family outing knows it can be a trying task. It's a gigantic task for a company with multiple restaurants, multiple themes and multiple states.
Hank Kraft, Chief Operating Officer of the Hal Smith Restaurant Group, said that research and development is a large part of the company's operation.
"Once you have an established menu, you have to continue to develop it," Kraft said. "If you don't keep life in your menu, then people get tired of it."
Keeping their menu current is a job that the company takes seriously. Kraft and his partners travel regularly to food hot spots around the country taking notes and watching trends.
Brad Johnson is corporate chef for the group. It's his job to not only bring back ideas from places like New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but to then incorporate those ideas into the Hal Smith system.
"Food comes from both coasts, east coast and west coast," Johnson said. "And then it hits Oklahoma, takes about a year or two, and we wanna get ahead of the curve."
"I know our chef is not real happy with us," Kraft said while laughing. "Because we do kick a lot back to him."
Vice President Mike Rogers agreed.
"There's days when he'll put four items out and we just have no interest in any of the items."
Rogers and Kraft also agreed that Kraft is the more critical of the team. But Johnson is used to it, and he knows that for every few dishes that get the thumbs down, there's always one that becomes a "winner winner, chicken dinner."
Chicken wings, actually. Johnson's working on a new recipe for the old standby that Rogers and Kraft were quite impressed with. Johnson also brought out a mac and cheese dish that went over extremely well.
It's too early to determine if either dish will actually make the menu at one of the Hal Smith establishments, but the research continues.
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
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