Common Sense

Remembering Allen Bernstein

Restaurant giant changed the industry


Steve Jobs.

And now...

Allen Bernstein.

You probably know about the technology giant's passing.

Bet you missed the news about the restaurant giant's passing.

Steve gets more buzz.

But Allen deserves at least some buzz.

Because what Steve did for gadgets...

Allen did for food.

Steve made high tech fun.

Allen made high end food fun.

Steve was a nut about quality.

Believe it or not, Allen was an even bigger nut about quality.

After all, Steve’s stuff you only touched.

Allen's stuff you ate.

And like Steve in a way, Allen wanted to make every "bite" memorable.

...beginning with a steakhouse named Morton’s...and a high-end experience he once told me he wanted to make second-to-none.


ALLEN BERNSTEIN: We’ve been very fortunate because of the tremendous people at our company of being able to built that brand name and just like Nordstrom’s or Tiffany’s or Four Seasons Hotels , people seek out Morton’s, we are at the very high spectrum of dining out and its working well for us.


In an age restaurants were cutting corners to save cash…Allen resisted cheaper alternatives to "make" cash.

When things got real tough, some of Allen’s people suggested he move down the steak food chain...stop serving pricey USDA prime...

Allen would have none of it…once telling me…"I sell the cheaper stuff; I might as well sell my soul."

I suspect Steve Jobs reacted the same way cost crunchers said, "Maybe not so elegant, boss."

Not Steve. Not Allen.

Not when it came to any device Steve attached his name.

Or any restaurant Allen attached his name...

Iconic names...

Like McCormick & Schmick's seafood...

And Cheesecake Factory...just a couple of the Bernstein eateries that quickly became darn near institutions...

....despite their premium prices…Allen would say "because" of the premium experience.

Restaurants are like destinations, he told me.

"You come back to the memorable ones...”

Allen Bernstein was big...on memorable.

Just like he was big on setting a nice table.

As he explained just a few months back: "who can fight at a nice table?"

I laughed. He laughed. Good times. Good food. Good man.