Featuring Michael Lessing
President, Lessing’s Hospitality Group
November 2018’s CEO Brief features Michael Lessing, President, Lessing’s Hospitality Group, a Long Island based company that has been family owned and operated for 125 years. In 2018, Lessing’s Hospitality Group was the recipient of HIA-LI’s 24th Annual Business Achievement Award in the category of Large Business.
Tell us about how you/your company started.
Lessing’s was founded in 1890 by my great, great grandfather Maxwell Lessing in New York City. Maxwell opened Manhattan’s first convenient lunch counter in the financial district and was later said to have been the first restaurateur in the city to serve Coca-Cola to his customers. We grew from convenient lunch counters and dining centers to own multiple restaurants and catering venue contracts. Today, we are delighted to say that the company currently employs the 4th, 5th and 6th generation of the Lessing family.
What was a turning point for you/your company?
The major turning point for Lessing’s was in 1978 and 1979. In 1978 we opened our first restaurant, the Post Office Café in Babylon, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary. The opening of the “PO” taught us how to run and manage a restaurant properly and set the blueprint for our future “Main Street Restaurant” concepts. In 1979 we won the bid for catering and concessions at Bethpage State Park. This brought us into the catering industry and we’re excited to be back at the Heritage Club at Bethpage today. Our initial experience at Bethpage, 40 years ago, taught us how to run 17 catering facilities today.
What is your philosophy for Remarkable Hospitality?
What’s our recipe for remarkable hospitality? It’s our employees who make the impossible, possible. It’s our employees who are the faces of our company. Every day, our team members are the ones on the front lines making sure our customers are happy and treating them like family. We cultivate the top talent, the best of the best, the ones who want to make waves, the ones who want to grow and develop their skills and disrupt the status quo! We are a highly diverse company that strives to put key people into successful and enriching career paths. We always look to hire smart and confident people because we’re only going to be as good as the people who work with us and push us forward every day!
Tell us about your companies profile today.
Currently, we operate over 80 food service locations across the northeast and 17 catering venues on Long Island, Westchester and Jupiter, Florida, 9 full service restaurants including Sandbar in Cold spring Harbor and Mirabelle Restaurant and Tavern in Stony Brook, 7 Blaze Pizza restaurants in NY and CT and our new brunch concept in Huntington called Hatch. We’re proud to say that across these locations we employ over 1,500 team members.
What opportunities do you see in the future?
Our new brunch concept, Hatch, in Huntington is our newest opportunity for growth. It is our goal to change the perception of the typical brunch. Surprising takes on brunch classics are served with a contagious passion for life and serving others. We look forward to finding new real-estate opportunities to bring Hatch to all Long Islanders. It is also our goal to continue expanding our catering, restaurant, and food service footprint across the East Coast and beyond. In April of 2019, we will finish the construction of the Pelican Club in Jupiter, Florida and we look forward to bringing our New York catering experience to Florida.