After a big VIP weekend soiree that had everyone from Ann Peavey (aka @SeattleMaven) to Brian Canlis swinging from the chandeliers (proverbially, of course) Michael Mina's RN74 Seattle opened for lunch yesterday. Dinner begins Thursday, but the restaurant has already announced a weekday happy hour (4-6 p.m., $5 for certain glasses of wine, cocktail and bites).
Mina is an Ellensburg native and made a name for himself in San Francisco. However he and his team, including RN74 Seattle chef Michelle Retallack, have opened a score of restaurants around the country and have it down to a science. Mina Group president Patric Yumul shared with Eater some details on the staff's training and the technology behind the restaurant's signature train board-turned-wine-list.
The focal point of both RN74 Seattle and its original San Francisco counterpart is the Solari train board, imported from Europe. The board, seen above during pre-opening prep, would traditionally display arrival and departure schedules. At RN74 Seattle, it displays the "last bottle" list, so patrons can see which wines are about to be sold out. Order an item off the last bottle list and watch the little plaques flip over to display a new entry up on the board. It's hooked up to the restaurant's point of sale, or inventory system, so the display updates in real time.
And that's not the only fancy technology at play in the restaurant. Yumul says employees have access to a restaurant Intranet that lists every single dish on the menu. Each item includes a picture, a recipe and information on purveyors and other details. There's even a video that shows the chef cooking and plating each dish.
RN74 Seattle's staff has spent the past two weeks training at the restaurant, learning about ingredients and getting extensive instruction from Mina Group wine director Rajat Parr. And yes, servers sample every menu item and all the wines by the glass.
Before they're allowed out on the floor, however, every single server and food runner must sit down with Yumul and Mina to pass a menu test. About 40 percent pass on the first try, says Yumul. "But once they can get through that two-on-one verbal test, they're going to be able to handle anything that a customer asks."