Lee Maen chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos. Maen is a partner in Innovative Dining Group, owner of 17 restaurants including Sushi Roku, Roku, BOA Steakhouse, Robata Barand Katana. He spoke about being a partner in the digital age.
On the uniqueness of the Innovative Dining Group, Maen said, “It’s possible to open a beautiful restaurant and serve great food, but what makes a guest turn into a regular is the unmatched hospitality, ambiance, and vibe that we provide.”
“We have found a recipe that marries exceptional food and first-class service with a seductive ambiance and great vibes to create an elevated dining experience unlike any other. Whether it’s at BOA Steakhouse, Sushi Roku, Katana, or our fast-casual premium concept, Yakumi, at one of the premier cities we are located in (Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Las Vegas, and Scottsdale), we provide our guests with the ultimate escape,” he elaborated.
As a founding partner, Maen opened up about his job description. “My partner and I have our hands in everything, which is important as a business owner. You need to be able to have a 360-degree view and understanding of your concept and the operations. My passion points and focus in the organization are in real estate, business development, and marketing,” he said.
On being a founding partner in the digital age, he said, “The great part about this time we’re in, is that there’s always something new to keep you on your toes. You can’t sit back and get complacent because there is always another app, medium, and outlet that is emerging with your audience.”
“It can be difficult to adapt to all of the new tech coming our way, but it has been exciting to grow with our guests across all platforms and showcase our ability to maintain a high degree of social relevance as the times change,” he said.
Regarding his daily motivations, he said, “I am in the business because I care about people. At the end of the day, our business is about providing an escape for our guests. Our goal is that from the moment they walk through the door, whatever their stresses may be, they slip away as they immerse themselves in our world and allow us to take care of the rest. Seeing satisfied guests matched with our loyal team members growing within our organization is a big motivator.”
On his future plans, he said, “We are currently underway on our first ground up build in Manhattan Beach featuring a Sushi Roku and BOA Steakhouse. On top of that, we have our sights set on a pretty rapid growth trajectory, including expanding into the Dallas and Austin markets as well as Cabo San Lucas, and Tulum, Mexico. We are lucky to have a great team that sets us up for success to double in size in the years to come.”
Maen shared some of his career-defining moments. “The pandemic was a pivotal moment for us and for the hospitality industry at large. My partner and I had to lean on our 25 years of experience to stay calm, focused and to ensure we were making thoughtful pivots and advancements for the company in order to maximize profitability while keeping our IDG family safe,” he said.
On his definition of success, he said, “We constantly aim to maximize our business success, while holding true to our ethical commitments. We created our mission statement, which is to craft elevated dining experiences anchored in innovative cuisine, impeccable style, seductive ambiance, and first-class service. More than 20 years later, this mission statement still guides us. We provide an experience of excellence that we never want to lose sight of, and that is why we are in this business.”
Maen concluded about the Innovative Dining Group, “I feel like we are one of the few restaurant groups that genuinely aim to ensure every guest has an amazing dining experience and walks out of our doors feeling like they mattered. Whether you are coming in for your very first time, or are a long-time regular, we couldn’t be here without every guest that has walked and continues to walk, through our doors. Hopefully, our heart and passion for what we do is conveyed in every exchange so that our guests can truly escape, even if it is only for a few hours.”
To learn more about the Innovative Dining Group, visit its official website.