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SPOTLIGHT ON Sebastien Silvestri, CEO, The Dinex Group

By Sharon Hirschowitz, Global Head of Media & Communications for The International Luxury Hotel Association
29 July 2020
3 min read
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It is inspiring to see such a dynamic and purposeful approach to a catastrophic event. Sebastien talks about Chef Daniel’s generosity towards his team and first responders as his restaurants closed. He also outlines their plan for the future, with safety a priority and innovative ideas to keep guests entertained.

What has been the approach during the pandemic?
#1- Safety for our team members and guests
We were one of the first Groups in New York to shut down our operation. New York was hit hard. We developed an in house Health and Sanitation plan for our properties around the world in compliance with CDC guidelines and local authorities.

#2-Taking care of our team members
We created Hand in Hand, a Daniel Boulud foundation to help our team members that were facing financial hardship. We raised over $450,000 to date and granted $300K+ towards rent expenses, food, extended benefits coverage, etc to support those in need.

#3-Help our community
Daniel Boulud co-funded Food First with SL Green Chairman and CEO, Marc Holiday. We are producing thousands of meals a week for first responders, hospital workers, and New Yorkers in need and supported 18 + organizations. To date, the foundation has produced 180,000 meals in conjunction with 15 other restaurants.

  1. Mount Sinai Hospital
  2. NYU Langone Kimmel
  3. NYU Langone Brooklyn Sunset Park
  4. NYU Langone Perelman Center
  5. Citymeals on Wheels
  6. Services for the Underserved
  7. The Bowery Mission
  8. New York-Presbyterian
  9. Montefiore Hospital
  10. Columbia University Medical Center
  11. Lenox Hill Hospital/Northwell System
  12. Queens Feeds Hospitals
  13. Jamaica Hospital
  14. Mount Sinai Queens
  15. H+H Food for Heroes
  16. Mayor’s Fund Distribution
  17. FDNY
  18. Memorial Sloan Kettering

#4-Focus has been to protect the company for a successful reopening

#5-Get people back to work as soon as it was safe to do so. We reopened several of our kitchens in New York to produce meals for charities, opened Bar Boulud last night and are reopening Epicerie Boulud on July 7th.

#6-Created a new Brand Daniel Boulud Kitchen and platform for online ordering to go & delivery

What do you think the recovery will look like for the restaurant industry?
I anticipate a slow and gradual recovery with a lack of domestic and international travel and the risk of second waves. Group business is dead for the remainder of 2020 coupled with lowered customer demand and spending.

Do you think consumer behavior will change long term?
Until a safe environment truly exists there will be a lack of confidence from guests. The older demographic is scared and will stay in, high unemployment and reduced income will have a triggering effect on the restaurants and hospitality industry and larger corporations will also reduce their spending affecting group business, conventions, etc.

What changes are you making to continue operating?
We realized that there was a need to transform and adapt our business model to the new reality. The goal has been to reopen our institution Daniel differently and reinvent ourselves to create meaningful experiences that represent our core values.

We have been aggressive with competitive pricing and limited hours of operations while also renegotiating new terms with our partners. We are expanding in other markets outside the United States or large metropolitan cities with a more favorable economic outlook post-pandemic, announcing the opening of Brasserie Boulud in the United Arab Emirates in September this year and Caffe Boulud at Blantyre with Relais & Châteaux July through mid-October 2020. Chef Boulud’s team will bring the flavors of award-winning Cafe Boulud on New York’s Upper East Side to the Berkshires in a seasonal pop-up concept drawing on fresh and local ingredients, crafting French classics with a twist.

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