Harry Dorofee: “Family” Business

Harry Dorofee encourages ownership at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

Accomplishments

HARRY DOROFEE has improved dining services for Flik International Corp. at CLEARY GOTTLIEB STEEN & HAMILTON by:

  • MANAGING an off-premise kitchen during a renovation of the main café, which provided food for a temporary café and catering, without a reduction in service
  • INCREASING café participation by 11% and catering sales by 23% through renovations and the addition of well-known local brands
  • MAKING the program more efficient by combining the catering and café menus into one
  • CREATING an environment where associates are encouraged to see themselves as “owners” of their jobs 

Harry Dorofee believes instilling a sense of ownership in his employees is the key to a successful operation. As food service director for Flik International Corp. at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, a New York law firm, Dorofee encourages his staff to work as if each station within the 23 pantries, conference catering, new barista bar and main café at the firm were their own business.

Adam Freed, Flik’s senior vice president of creative development, says it is Dorofee’s ability to collaborate and his creativity that have made him a success at the account, which has been managed by Flik for more than 20 years.

“Harry’s captivating personality mixed with knowledge is a gift for those he touches,” Freed says. “We, as a family, are thankful for Harry’s dedication in understanding the true essence of what is our common purpose—to help create a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

Feeding on the fly: One way Dorofee made a difference to customers was diminishing the impact of a nine-month renovation of the firm’s kitchen/café space, which opened in August 2011. Dorofee says during construction it was a challenge to provide the same level of service while operating out of a remote kitchen.

“It was a big endeavor to do the amount of sales that we did during that period while keeping customer satisfaction as high as always,” Dorofee says. “It took a lot of planning and a ton of teamwork.”

To maintain service the staff was split in half, with one group running the temporary café, which was set up in a conference room, and one group preparing meals in a satellite kitchen 30 miles away on Long Island.

“Due to traffic concerns, we decided to make all the food at the satellite kitchen, chill it and then send it to the temporary café the night before, while adhering to the most stringent food and sanitation guidelines,” Dorofee says. “This approach allowed us to rethermalize the food just before service in order to maintain optimum quality.

Obviously, participation in the cafeteria decreased slightly, but catering sales increased 10% during construction. The key was that at no point during the renovation did we lose the sense of community the café brings to the business.”

The renovated café is a modern space on the 39th floor with lots of natural light and an impressive view of downtown New York City. Stations include a grill, which serves hand-cut steaks, market-fresh seafood and grilled vegetables; a pizza station with a brick oven where chefs make pizza dough from scratch, casseroles and pastas; a deli, which features a counter where Flik’s FIT—more healthful options—are positioned so they are the first items a guest sees when entering the café to help guide healthy eating choices; a salad bar that features local and seasonal produce; and an action station that offers a chef demonstration and a cook-to-order special of the day.

The café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, closing at 8:30 p.m. Around the corner from the 270-seat dining area is a new barista bar, which was designed to take advantage of the building’s view of the Statue of Liberty.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
rolling silverware

Ensuring that employees regularly complete the busywork missing from their daily checklist can be a challenge, but these tasks often help an operation run efficiently with fewer unexpected costs. At Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., Regional Executive Chef Dustin Cochran has found a solution to ensure his walk-in coolers always have a clean vent. Cochran starts with a thorough cleaning of the vent, then slips a hairnet over it to catch the dust. Instead of getting employees to deep clean the vents, they need only replace the hairnet.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

FSD Resources