The Epicurean Group becomes southeast Michigan’s newest name on the restaurant scene after formerly being known as Matt Prentice Restaurant Group. Both organizations are owned 100% by Detroit entrepreneur Stanley B. Dickson, Jr.
The announcement was made today by Dickson, who said he and Prentice were unable to agree on the future direction of the company, leading to Prentice’s decision to resign. According to Dickson, he remains friends with Prentice and is “surprised and disappointed” with the resignation. The company, however, continues forward “positively and with the best team we have ever had on board,” said Dickson.
Dickson announced that The Epicurean Group, which operates 15 business units including restaurants Coach Insignia, Northern Lakes Seafood Company, No. VI Chophouse, Plaza Deli and three Deli Unique locations. Eric Djordjevic, previously Chief Operating Officer, has been named President of The Epicurean Group.
Djordjevic has been with the company since July 2011, coming from the Detroit Athletic Club where he held the positions of Food & Beverage Director, Grill Room Manager and Cellar Master. Previously, he was the General Manager of the famed Tapawingo in Ellsworth, Mich., and the Four-Star, Four-Diamond Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, as well as the Food & Beverage Director of the Bay Harbor Yacht Club.
“We are much more than a restaurant group,” said Dickson, “and Eric Djordjevic is the right person to lead us to our broader vision of great food, fun and wellness.”
The Epicurean Group also has announced that its focus on Wellness will increase significantly by providing healthy and delicious food for hospitals and other locations where nutrition and timely service are required. Heather Annatoyn Dickson, M.D., from the Center for Healthy Living and Longevity, with offices in Grosse Pointe, Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor, will be consulting the team to further establish The Epicurean Group in this area.
Stanley Dickson said, “This business nearly didn’t survive back in 2009. I came in to provide financial stability and business acumen to a friend. His resignation has been personally difficult for me. I wish the best for Matt and I am sure he will excel at whatever he decides to do. Fortunately, the company is doing well these days and there have been no other resignations. We are all very excited about the future and expect to be very profitable this year.”
“It’s about the team,” Dickson added. “The Epicurean Group is not about any one person. We are all here for one another. Eric has been doing an amazing job as COO and I am thrilled he has become the new President and team leader. His leadership and experience have helped turn around the business and we feel very good about our future prospects.”
Djordjevic said, “The team we are building here is second to none. We have approximately 400 people who have high standards and outstanding character. The food and service in our restaurants are better than ever.”
According to Djordjevic, Travis Waynick, who has had the positon as Executive Chef since February 2011, has been named Corporate Executive Chef — working with all of the company’s diverse business units. Waynick has been with the company for 13 years in various positions throughout the organization and “has grown into a great chef and leader,” according to Dickson. Waynick left the company for a short while to further develop his leadership skills as a Sous Chef at the Westin Book Cadillac, Detroit.
“Travis is at the top of his game and will be a major part of The Epicurean Group’s culinary development,” said Djordjevic. “With Easter, Mother’s Day and other important occasions right around the corner, we are excited to have our restaurants in very good shape to wow those who honor us with their business.”
In addition to the existing restaurants, The Epicurean Group will be opening Gastronomy, A Modern American Bistro in the previous Morton’s site in the One Towne Square Building on Northwestern Hwy. in Southfield. “This really will be a marquee restaurant not only for us, but for the state of Michigan,” said Djordjevic. “Adam Hightower is a Michigan native who has returned from Hong Kong to be the Executive Chef for the restaurant. He is considered one of the most talented young chefs in the United States. We expect Grastronomy to be a big hit.”
CEO Dickson said, “We love serving the great people of southeastern Michigan and hope they will visit our restaurants soon. Our team is committed to exceeding everyone’s expectations.”