Q&A: David Jarvis, Pappas Restaurants
Pappas Restaurants has grown to more than 60 U.S. locations and 10 banners — including Pappas Seafood House, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, Pappasito’s Cantina and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse — since its inception in 1976. Though the Houston company spans seven states — Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Ohio and Georgia — its executive chefs work hard to tailor their menus’ seafood offerings to the area in which they operate.
SeafoodSource recently talked to David Jarvis, Pappas’ research and development chef, about the restaurants’ seafood offerings and how they cater to local tastes.
Blank: How do your guests’ seafood tastes differ across the country?
Jarvis: The northern stores try to downplay the Cajun aspect (such as boiled crawfish). Houston stores go more toward fried foods, and then broiled seafood. In Chicago, items are breaded to order and fried. The gator and calamari appetizers do extremely well. I am trying to work on getting the stores to be a little more regionalized with their fish. For example, in Chicago, how about some lake trout or whitefish, or smelt in the spring? Let’s offer the highest quality and the best selection possible in this area. In the South, the Gulf fish are going to dominate. We are starting to have enough depth of recipes [to be able to start using more regional fish].
Pappas restaurants ran aggressive seafood promotions this summer, including “Half Price Live Maine Lobsters,” 1 pound of Maine lobster for USD 9.95 (EUR 6.99). How did this help your summer sales?
Summertime sales tend to be flatter, but we have maintained very well [this summer] because of our promotions. On certain days when our dishes are promoted, business definitely picks up; it shows that the exposure really does work. The biggest thing is communicating to guests when they get in the door. They don’t always know everything we have, so we let them know what we have to offer.
How have lower lobster prices helped your sales?
Lobster is a popular item, and other dishes are built around that. The biggest thing Pappas has, as a company, is their buying power. They are negotiating for the best possible prices, which we pass on to the consumer. We’re buying the whole Maine lobster, and it is direct-shipped in. They worked out a commitment for a certain amount of volume for a certain amount of dollars. It’s a guarantee for fishermen.