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A Recipe for Success in Restaurant Facilities: Takeaways From Some of Indy’s Most Iconic Eateries

Huse Culinary has a strong legacy in central Indiana. The Indianapolis-based restaurant and retail food group owns and operates four restaurant brands, including the storied St. Elmo Steak House. Over the years, Huse Culinary has expanded its presence with 1933 Lounge, Harry & Izzy’s, and The HC Tavern + Kitchen. Through this growth, ERMCO has served as Huse Culinary’s go-to for electrical services. Given the demands of the restaurant industry, this experience offers a variety of takeaways for other facilities that have little opportunities for downtime. 


Variety of Huse Culinary Restaurants

Selecting contracting partners with shared values

 

Huse Culinary prioritizes a culture of family, and the company’s story involves a father and son—Steve and Craig Huse—partnering to grow and delight their customers. Coincidentally, their facilities team also has some unique family connections. Gary Sissom is director of facilities & construction at Huse Culinary, and his son, Michael Sissom, is facilities manager. Both Gary and Michael have a rich history with ERMCO.

 

Michael’s construction path started when he was a teenager, spending time on construction sites with Gary, who owned a general contracting business and did remodeling projects for St. Elmo Steak House. That’s when Michael met ERMCO project manager Henry Rosebrock, who was an apprentice at the time, and Henry’s father, Charlie, who was an electrical superintendent.

 

“I had my own business for several years, as well, and would use ERMCO every time we had an electrical need,” Michael said. “I joined Huse Culinary as facilities manager two years ago, reconnected with Henry, and met the rest of the ERMCO team supporting us. They’re a fantastic bunch, with continuity and a shared set of values you don’t often find in a lot of companies.”

 

Streamlining communication and sharing information through a work order app  

 

When needs arise at one of Huse Culinary’s six restaurants, their team sends requests through a work order app used by ERMCO and other contractor partners.


St. Elmo Steak House Exterior at Night

Early on, Michael used ERMCO field tech Rob Schreiner’s use of the app as an example for Huse Culinary’s staff and other contractors, with before and after photos and complete descriptions.

 

“The work order app is as good as the information that goes into it, and ERMCO is thorough and does a great job describing the work performed,” Michael said. “The information in the app serves as a great educational tool for users who are submitting work orders, some of whom don’t have experience in facilities maintenance.”  

 

ERMCO also uses the app to communicate on equipment lead times and provide status updates on the timing of repairs.

 

Providing responsive service for a fast-paced environment  

 

The work order app also helps team members respond quickly to pressing needs—essential, because downtime isn’t an option.

 Michael noted that while many people think restaurants are open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the reality is the work starts around 7 a.m. and lasts until 1 a.m.

St. Elmo Team Working in the Kitchen

“There’s just a small period where people aren’t there, so maintenance people are on call around the clock,” Michael said. “In the restaurant business, everything is considered an emergency. That can wear on anyone, but ERMCO is always kind, courteous, and professional. If they have to make something work to keep the kitchen open that day, they are right back in there working on the permanent fix.”

 

“ERMCO has a great group of technicians who respond in a timely and efficient manner,” said Robert Gronde, account manager, ERMCO. “We have a long history of service contracts and strive to make sure we’re reliable for the client, no matter what their needs might be. Every Huse Culinary location has different needs, so we help address anything that pops up.”

 

Addressing unique challenges

 

From cook plates to heat lamps to GFCI outlet breakers, a working kitchen has multiple elements that can malfunction or need regular replacements. Another critical priority is making sure that the Ansul systems (automatic fire suppression systems used in kitchens) are functioning properly. In addition, St. Elmo Steak House has been in its location since 1902, and since then has grown to comprise three connected buildings, creating some unique complexities for the facilities team to navigate.

Food ready for delivery at Harry and Izzys

Michael said that at one of the restaurants, ERMCO recently identified a situation where the wrong light bulbs were being used—a scenario that could have damaged the system and cost thousands of dollars to fix.

 

“ERMCO has done a lot of chasing down circuits and figuring things out,” he said. “In my 30 years of experience and the relationships I have, there’s no one else I trust to handle our needs. They’re thorough in what they do and always make us their priority and keeping our facilities top notch.”

 

Michael has worked on a variety of projects throughout his career, but no facility type takes the beating that restaurants do, creating a different set of challenges. He encourages contractors to go above the industry standard on installations, given the demands placed on restaurant facilities.

 

“We’re selective about contractors, and ERMCO delivers,” Michael said. “ERMCO being an employee-owned company seems to be reflected in the attitudes of their people. They take pride in their work and being good representatives of the company.”

 

Learn more

For more information on how ERMCO can become your service and maintenance partner, contact:

PAT MCCARTHY | 317.396.4974 | pmccarthy@ermco.com

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