Craig Huse, CEO, Huse Culinary
In this fascinating conversation, Bert delves into how Huse Culinary became the custodian for a legacy brand, launched diverse product sets, and set records in employee retention.
From Dishwasher to CEO
Craig Huse’s journey began in the heart of the Midwest, as he rolled up his sleeves and started washing dishes at his father’s Bloomington, Indiana restaurant at the tender age of 14. Little did he know that this humble start would be the foundation for an extraordinary career. Craig’s trajectory took him from Bloomington to Penn State University and eventually back to the restaurant industry, where he would leave an indelible mark.
Down to Earth Leadership
One remarkable aspect of Craig’s leadership is his down-to-earth approach, even with the regular patronage of celebrities. He shares with Bert the respect and camaraderie he has for the legendary Peyton Manning, whose strong ties to Indianapolis led him to Craig’s restaurants. In fact, Manning himself recently graced one of their establishments with his presence, a testament to the outstanding experiences Huse Culinary consistently provides.
How Huse Grew a $70 Million Revenue Stream
Craig shares with Bert the growth and evolution of Huse Culinary Group, starting with the iconic St. Elmo Steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis and expanding to six locations across four distinct concepts.
Craig’s culinary group generates a staggering $70 million in revenue. Beyond the restaurants, Craig oversees the St. Elmo Foods Group, which produces beloved products like Saint Elmo shrimp cocktail sauce and seasonings. He’s also launched RTD St. Elmo Cola and has ambitious plans for a distillery on the horizon. Their forthcoming distillery marks a strategic move to diversify revenue streams, providing stability, particularly in turbulent times past, like the COVID-19 pandemic.
This steady, strategic approach to brand expansion is the foundation of their success.
The Secret Sauce – Teamwork
But what truly sets Huse Culinary apart isn’t just their diverse portfolio; it’s their unwavering commitment to teamwork and fostering positive energy within their establishments. Their North Star is clear: to entertain and delight the public while inspiring their exceptional team.
Creating a supportive and positive work environment, coupled with robust training and benefits, has been instrumental in retaining top-tier talent within the hospitality industry.
Furthermore, Craig highlights the pivotal role guests play in creating a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere in their restaurants. For instance, St. Elmo hosts the unforgettable annual St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail Eating Contest, featuring competitive eater Joey Chestnut.
The company’s owner-operated model and unwavering commitment to stability and continuity have been key pillars of their enduring success. The Huse Culinary Group is a testament to the power of steady growth, diversified portfolios, and a relentless focus on team excellence. Under Craig Huse’s visionary leadership, this culinary empire continues to thrive, offering unforgettable experiences and leaving an indelible mark on the world of hospitality.
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