Zaid Elia and Detroit’s Parc Restaurant
By Monique Mansour
Parc Resturant, located on Campus Martius Park in Detroit, was named the 2018 Restaurant of the Year by Hour Detroit. Co-owner Zaid Elia received the news when he was vacationing in the Bahamas over the New Year’s holiday. “I was taken aback when I received the call. I thought to myself…Wow! What an honor. We were also recently named 100 Best Restaurants in America for a Big Night Out by Open Table, so it was exciting news all-around,” said Elia.
Let’s rewind. Elia got started in the restaurant business in 2009, when he purchased territory rights for Subway eateries in western Wayne County. “Today, our company, the Elia Group, oversees more than 90 Subway stores in our market.” Looking back, Elia credits his Chaldean heritage to much of his success. “The ‘Can-Do’ attitude of our community, relentless work ethic, and strong support network has greatly influenced my journey,” said Elia.
The idea for Parc came about organically and the city of Detroit served as the ultimate inspiration. “My partner, Matthew Shiffman and I, have a concession agreement to provide all of the food and beverage on Campus Martius Park, which has more than 2.5 million visitors each year. Our first concept was The Fountain Detroit, which debuted in the summer of 2016. The Fountain Detroit is an outdoor restaurant. We purchased a 40-foot shipping container and turned it into a kitchen and bar. The container sits on a deck surrounded by sand to give visitors a beach like feeling. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s a seasonal restaurant and opens from May – October every year. Parc was our second venue. We opened in November 2016.” Elia’s partner reflects on Parc as being a labor of love.
“I’m proud of our accomplishments, but prouder of our team for all of their hard work and dedication,” said Shiffman. “Ultimately, the true energy of our restaurant is driven by our best in class team led by our General Manager Andy Kareco and Executive Chef Jordan Hoffman,” said Elia.
Executive Chef Jordan Hoffman agrees that Parc is uniquely connected to the heartbeat of the city. “I see Parc becoming a landmark restaurant for the city, being that it’s in such a unique and central location, in an iconic crossroads for Detroit. It’s a wonderful place to take in all that is happening in this great city. As the city grows and changes I want Parc to reflect that growth and to be part of it as well as a catalyst place of growth for a new generation of culinarians,” said Hoffman.
For Elia, the ultimate fulfillment from being a restaurant owner comes from creating the best culinary experience for both his team and his guests. And that comes with a lot of preparation and pre-planning. A typical day overseeing Parc encompasses many different things. “The key to building a successful restaurant starts with building a strong team. Our executive team has more than 50 years of restaurant experience combined. My job is to ensure that the team is delivering a best in class experience for our guests. I also have a dedicated office staff that analyzes key performance metrics in real time on a daily basis, which allows us to know where we stand with our financials, for example, food and labor costs, guest experience, and current trends at all times,” said Elia.
Elia’s favorite dish on the menu at Parc depends on who he’s dining with. “If my wife isn’t with me, I’ll definitely order one of our reserve steaks – delivered daily from Fairway Packing Co. located in Eastern Market,” he explained. “When I’m with my wife, she encourages me to eat healthier, so I’ll order the Chop Salad.”
The menu at Parc changes seasonally, so guests can look forward to something new all-year round. “The menus for Parc are created to really highlight Detroit, the Midwest, and all of the cultures that are part of the larger Michigan community. It’s important to us that the restaurant, with it being in such a unique and central location in downtown Detroit, has a certain sense of place, and homage to the city and the state of Michigan,” said Hoffman.
In terms of advice for aspiring restaurateurs, Elia offers the following: “Open a restaurant that’s a reflection and extension of your personality. When you can connect with the concept, you’ll be committed and will help develop the culture of your brand and what you want it to stand for.”
For more information on Parc Restaurant, visit www.parcdetroit.com.