Fifteen years in the hotel business taught Bill Levy two things:
- You have to learn all aspects of the industry in order to succeed, including cooking.
- He wanted to go into business for himself
After looking at multiple places in the Salem, Mass., area, Levy and his late business partner, Paul Delery, discovered Bob’s Famous Fried Clams. A surf n’ turf restaurant, Bob’s was a place that everyone went to growing up, including Levy. With some luck and perfect timing on their side, Levy and Delery became the proud owners of Bob’s on Dec. 21, 2012.
Immediately after purchasing the restaurant, they revamped the menu to include only the best dishes with a majority of their menu items being made-from-scratch.
“If I wouldn’t eat it, why would I have it on my menu?” Levy said. “We only serve our customers dishes that we’re proud to serve. From the tartar sauce to the coleslaw, most of the items are made from scratch.”
But Levy wanted to add roast beef as he expanded his menu. Located in Massachusetts, a big roast beef market, it only made sense that they would serve it on their menu. The problem was the kitchen was not equipped to cook roast beef. That’s when Delery called up a former colleague from the hotel business, who, without hesitation recommended an Alto-Shaam Cook & Hold oven.
By June 15, 2013, the new oven was put into service, cooking up the best roast beef Bob’s customers had ever tasted. Served on a sesame seed bun, the fresh roast beef could pass for prime rib because of its tender, juicy taste.
“Every one of our customers has said it’s the most amazing roast beef they’ve tasted,” said Levy. “It’s quite incredible the difference the Alto-Shaam oven has made when cooking the meat.”
In addition to roast beef, the 1,500-square-foot restaurant serves everything from lobster rolls to chicken wings and from clam chowder to fried shrimp. The staff of 14 serves between 1,000 and 3,000 meals a week, depending on the season. Looking to the future, Levy has some exciting changes coming to Bob’s including a name change and new menu items.
As the restaurant is transitioning into Bob’s Surf & Turf, the restaurant will be in the same location, but adding new dishes such as slow-cooked ribs, roasted turkey for sandwiches and possibly even pork chops and prime rib. Levy has figured out the best way to determine if a new item will be a success – test it out on the customers.
“I’ve been giving samples of the ribs to my regulars, who have since kept asking me when it will appear on the menu,” Levy said. “The Alto-Shaam cooks the ribs to the point where the meat is tender enough to just fall off the rib. My customers absolutely love it.”
The oven behind the perfectly done roast beef and ribs is the 750-TH-II Cook & Hold. The ultra-compact and lightweight design gives it a small footprint, allowing more space for the other kitchen equipment at Bob’s. The oven also automatically switches from cooking to holding, cutting down on labor costs.
“I love the Cook & Hold. The way it can maintain all of the moisture inside the meat, it’s an amazing product,” Levy said. “The warmer is also great because it can hold certain items, like mac n’ cheese, throughout the day without drying it out or turning it to mush.”
Alto-Shaam’s Halo Heat® technology sets the Cook & Hold apart from other products in the industry. Other products can lead to dried-out food, overcooked food, and wasted energy. The soft, gentle Halo Heat holds foods at the perfect temperature for hours, increasing food yields and eliminating waste from overcooked foods. The efficient Cook & Hold oven has allowed Levy to serve customers high-quality meat at a lower price point.
Levy has noticed labor and food cost has decreased in two ways. First, his staff doesn’t have to worry about babysitting the meat because it takes less than 15 minutes to prep the roast beef before close at the end of the night. They place it in the oven before leaving for the evening, and return the next day to a perfectly cooked roast. Second, since the finished roast retains more moisture, the Cook & Hold oven allows Levy to use any remaining meat for things such as cheesesteaks and beef stew.
“I hate to say, ‘You can set it and forget it,’ but it’s true. The Cook & Hold eliminates all of the waste and allows my staff to focus on other items in the restaurant,” remarked Levy. “On top of that, the customer service I’ve received from Alto-Shaam has been outstanding. I really can’t say enough nice things about their company.”
Founded in 1956, Alto-Shaam is the inventor of the original Cook & Hold oven that revolutionized low-heat cooking and the commercial cooking industry. With no flavor carryover, reduced energy consumption and no exterior ventilation needed, the Cook & Hold can work all day, every day, with maximum efficiency. It’s versatile too; options include cooking, roasting, baking, braising, smoking and dehydrating.
“I’m not a professional chef, but I’ve spent time in a commercial kitchen given my background in the hotel industry,” said Levy. “Alto-Shaam completely surprised me with what you can do with their ovens. The way it cooks the meat is unbelievable.”