Gerry Glynn of EatDrinkJax.com interviews Chef Medure.
Matthew's - Seared Main Diver Scallops on Sweet Corn Grits with Micro Greens
23. Can you tell us about M Shack? What attracted you to a burger restaurant after doing Matthew's and Restaurant Medure?
I started M Shack as a hobby. I was on an airplane once and was thinking about how cool it would be to have a place that was high quality but not in the same way as our other places. Then one day I was driving to One Ocean to do a James Beard dinner. I was driving through Atlantic Beach. You never see a vacant storefront there, ever. Those people are there for 18-20 years at a time. Then I saw it - it was the old Book Nook. So I stopped, wrote the number down in the window and just called. They said "we're sorry, there's about 10 people in front of you." I figured that would be the case. They asked to hear our concept so, I told them what we wanted to do and they loved it. We then went out to make the best burger we could. We ate more ground beef than you can imagine. We had one goal. Our barometer was to be able to eat a burger and then want another one right away. You can get a greasy, good burger but then not want to go back for another month. We eventually found our burger. We got the right mix, the right fat, and a beautiful meat that we grind every day. That's our foundation. We found a way to patty it to where it doesn't get stringy but has a great mouth feel and breaks up like a steak. This hobby has turned into a big business. It's a lot of work!
M Shack -- M Burger
24. The M Shack menu is pretty small. Is that intentional or is your goal to grow it over time?
We're adding about a dozen items when we open at the Town Center. We'll have something called Melts, which are these cool little things made with fresh ingredients on a tortilla or ciabatta. We're adding a pretty extensive french fry menu. Right now we offer a few types of fries. We offer Tater Tots, Truffle Fries and Queso Fries. We're going to start doing things with fries where you use them more as a platform. Think about how many things you can put on a pizza crust. We're going to start dressing and garnishing the fries with different ingredients to make them lovely. They'll be shareable, or maybe even a main course. We're still playing with it. We're adding some new burgers. We'll also have a full bar with a liquor license. We'll do adult shakes. The shakes are going crazy. I never thought we'd sell so many. But we use a high quality ice cream and people love them. We're going to offer them adult style using different liquors and alcohols in them.
25. Is your foie gras burger popular?
People who order it love it, but we don't sell a ton of them. We might sell 30-40 per month.
26. What's your most popular burger at M Shack?
Our workhorse it the M Burger, which is what we want. We created the M Burger as the basic American burger and it's done very well.
27. Do you think M Shack will grow either as a franchise or beyond the Jacksonville area?
I don't know. I'm in charge of the development side of the business - developing the menu and spaces. I do have a third location picked out and want to have that solidified before the end of the year. We'd like to have about 5 in the area, then we'll see. We may stop there. If we don't stop there we'll have to bring in a whole slew of infrastructure.
When we started we didn't think of M Shack as a franchise. We thought we'd do one little neighborhood shop that would be a nice addition to Atlantic Beach. I love the area. Some days we have over 500 guests at M Shack. It's something else.
M Shack -- restaurant sign
28. What is M Hospitality?
It's our re-branding. We wanted a way to tie our company together. One of my mentors joined on with us about a year ago. The guy I opened the Ritz-Carlton with, Stephen Schaeffer. He was my chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead. He came to Amelia Island as the Executive Chef and I came with him as the restaurant chef. We had this long time relationship together. I left in 1996 and he left about the same time, just before the Mariott bought the Ritz-Carlton. He went off to run some big operations. He's just a quality guy - chef trained, but he went into the managing side of the hotels. We've always stayed in touch and we re-connected about a year ago and now he's a partner with my brother and I. So, we decided to create a platform we can grow on together - that's what M Hospitality is. It will be a platform, an organization that will encompass anything we do in the future in the way of growth. We may come up with more concepts that have an M in them. I'm not sure what they are yet but we have a couple of ideas.
We just launched our new website. It'll show the synergy and personality of the company. We're in the growing stages of re-branding so it's still on the newer side for all of us. But I know it's the way to go and feel good about having a brand that when people think of it 5 years from now they'll think of quality, innovation, and a chef driven operation.
29. Where do you see Matthew's and Medure's going?
I think they'll continue doing what they're doing. They're our first loves and hopefully they continue to prosper and do well. I don't want to see them go anywhere. I want them to be around forever. I think we've been good at changing with the times and re-branding. As long as we keep doing that we should be okay. I would love to see some key employees grow into managing partners or chef partners. I think we can offer that growth. It's a win-win. It takes some responsibility and stress off our shoulders but it also gives a new challenge to a guy who's been a chef for 5 years. He can become a chef and become invested. Same with the managers. I think that's the way you grow. That's going to be M Hospitality too. An excellent way is when you can bring great people onto the team and give them something to be proud of.
Matthew's - dessert2 by Paul Figura
Dessert. Photo courtesy of Paul Figura.
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About the writer
EatDrinkJax.com interviews are conducted by Jacksonville Beach resident Gerry Glynn. When Gerry isn't talking with restauranteurs he is working for a local software company, training for his next road race, and hanging out with his wife and dog.