February 28, 2012 -
Q+A with Amelia Ammann, Spice Kitchen + Bar’s General Manager
There’s never a dull moment in a typical work day for Spice Kitchen + Bar’s General Manager, Ameila Ammann. When she’s not responding to event leads or brainstorming happy hour specials, she’s scheduling tastings or tracking down a live music act. Amelia has worked in the restaurant industry since she was 12. For her, it’s second nature. Lucky for us, she brought her skills to Spice of Life Catering Co. as an event coordinator a few years back. But, with almost a lifetime of restaurant industry experience under her belt, she smoothly transitioned into her role as GM. She couldn’t imagine herself working in another profession…or with a better group of people.
Q. What kind of event potential do you see in the restaurant as a venue?
A. Spice Kitchen + Bar is especially unique as a venue because it’s got a lot of character. It’s cozy and warm and inviting, as opposed to being a generic banquet hall. It’s also five minutes from downtown Cleveland in the Gordon Square Arts District, which is such a cool little neighborhood with so much to offer. It’s a locally owned, small neighborhood restaurant, which is appealing to a lot of people. And, of course, how we source our food is a major attraction. Our catering company just has such an awesome reputation in Cleveland, so we’re really lucky in that we have this amazing following. A lot of people, especially foodies, recognize our brand, and now that we have this venue, they’re really excited and drawn to it.
Q. How is Spice different than any restaurant you’ve worked in?
A. The really amazing thing about Spice is how we source our food. And it’s something we’re all passionate about here. It’s not just a restaurant, but a way to educate Clevelanders that they can get local foods any time of year. That is something that is most special, and it’s something people stand behind. It makes it so much more worthwhile when you really believe in the work that you’re doing.
And, culturally, everyone’s opinion counts. Ben really listens to us and values what we have to say. To me, that just speaks volumes.
Q. What have been the biggest challenges and rewards of your job since Spice’s opening?
A. The biggest challenge is getting everything done on time. Just trying to get open and get all the systems in place. Training everyone and figuring out the best way to go about everything. It’s the most rewarding thing when we have a busy night and everything goes smoothly. And when everyone leaves happy!
Q. Spice builds their menu around the seasons. Is the same true for the bar fare?
A. Yes it is! We are really trying to feature the drink ingredients to reflect the seasons as much as possible. It’s citrus season right now, so we just made Clementine-infused vodka. We really strive to make the cocktails seasonal and cohesive with the kitchen.
Q. What’s the most requested drink at the bar?
A. As far as cocktails go, I’d say the most requested is the Beet Root Lemonade or Over the Moon, which is made with egg whites, lavender syrup, gin and lemon juice. They shake the egg whites so that it creates a frothy, creamy texture. And the lavender syrup adds a lot of depth when mixed with the lemon. My favorite drink right now is the Apricot Mint Fizz. It’s delicious!
Q. What’s on Spice’s upcoming agenda?
A. Last weekend, we had an event for a non-profit called Jumpstart. It was their post holiday party, which is a pretty popular event right now. I’ve also been working on some rehearsal dinners coming up this spring and a couple of weddings set for the fall. Apart from that, we have a lot of inquires about wedding showers. There’s always stuff coming in.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
A. I would definitely say my relationships with everyone that I work with. I love working for Ben; he’s an awesome person and an awesome boss. Being able to look forward to seeing the people I work with and also just being passionate about what I’m doing and being part of something so new is really exciting. We put a lot of effort into finding and training our staff and I feel so fortunate to work with such an amazing group of people, both management-wise and the staff. There’s this sense of family despite the fact that we are so new. But we’re growing into this great, united group where everything just works. It’s really something!