Spotlight on…MEIR FUCHS
BUSINESS NAME AND POSITION: Blue Grill, Owner
LOCATION: 3502 Flatlands Avenue
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 1
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 5
What’s behind the name Blue Grill?
We originally started out as a dairy place that offered fish as well as other dishes. I chose the blue reference to go along with that fish and aquatic theme. Because we were closed for so many months due to COVID-19, we have had to shift our focus from indoor dining to catering and takeout, but I kept the blue reference since that is how our customers remember us. I did, however, update our logo from a blue fish to a grill since we are known for our grilled dishes. We are basically a one-stop shop. We carry everything from soups to salads to Shabbos food.
How did you enter the culinary field?
I have always been into food, and I have been in the industry for over 30 years. You may be familiar with Pizza World, my former business. I have catered many events not just here, but in the Five Towns and New Jersey. I didn’t go to culinary school, but learned everything I know on the job, which is the best way to learn. I established this location because I saw a lack in the community. I would hear residents from Marine Park complain that if they wanted decent takeout, they had to go to other areas. Marine Park needed a takeout catering establishment.
Do you cook any of the food?
My duties at Blue Grill keep me busy, but when it gets hectic, I definitely get involved by doing some of he cooking. I especially enjoy the grilling process. I teamed up long ago with two of the top chefs in the area and they do all the main cooking. Our main chef has been with me for 25 years, and the second chef comes to us from Gourmet on J.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
It completely changed the way people think about food. Customers are very conscious of contact with others and prefer food that is packaged for individual consumption. Even if we are doing a catered affair and we have buffet style food, we make sure that all the portions are individually wrapped with napkins and utensils included, so customers are limiting their contact with food servers. There are no large bottles of soda for the table or family style serving; everything is miniature sized. In terms of dining, we are also doing a lot of outdoor catering in tents. There is much planning that goes into the tent sizing and seating capacity.
Are people ordering more or less than before the pandemic?
At the height of the outbreak, business was very slow. People were nervous and did not order much outside food. Now, we are seeing an increase in business as more people return to work and are too busy to cook. Baruch Hashem, there are also more simchos taking place, so catering has increased a lot over the last few weeks.
Are customers still nervous about ordering?
Customers are always calling to ask if the workers are wearing gloves and masks, and believe me, they are! This is to protect both the customers as well as my employees. I am a member of Hatzolah, so I take safety precautions very seriously. For example, when a customer mentions an allergy or dietary restriction, I make sure to adhere to their specifications.
What is the most popular dish on your menu?
People love our broccoli salad because it is not too sweet or salty. Our brisket is our number one main dish. Customers tell me all the time that they have never tasted a brisket that is so juicy. Other favorites are our grilled chicken and schnitzel. We use our own special batter for the schnitzel, which is why the meat is not dry, oily, or greasy.
What’s the secret to surviving in such a competitive industry?
We are in tough times right now. People are very health-conscious and afraid of contamination. I believe that our reputation for fresh, clean food is the secret to our survival. We do a lot of catering, and when people taste our food and love it, they become new customers. The quality of the food is paramount. I am very on top of temperature control and the tidiness of the place. Food consistency is important too. If you are going to purchase a kugel one week, I can assure you that it will be just as fluffy, and not burned, when you purchase it again the following week. I have been in the business for decades. I know customer service, and I know that in this line of work shortcuts cannot be made; the customer must be heard.
What’s next for Blue Grill?
Now, with the boost in takeout, our business continues to grow. In fact, we recently had to expand to the storefront next door to our current location. We are looking to add to our menu with more options for the holidays. We have been getting requests for duck and veal. I would also like to add complete dinner packages, so families who don’t have time or don’t want to cook can order their suppers and even their entire Yom Tov meals all through us.