The Pointe Restaurant – Foodies listen up, changes coming!
Quality is Not Expensive, It's Priceless.
Between Food and Beverage Manager Augustus (Gus) Fleming, Chef Peter DiNardi, and Sous Chef Ben Wendle, there is a combined 77 years of restaurant experience. And experience counts!
Chef Peter and Sous Chef Ben started at The Pointe in late January. And the difference is already apparent. The revised business model is to buy seasonal, fresh local food and cook from scratch. This saves money by not buying pre-made food and allows for finer quality meals.
Gus Fleming - Food and Beverage Manager. Gus began his restaurant career as a teenager in the family business. One of his early influences was working at the prestigious 11 Madison Park Restaurant in New York City. Later, he worked as an executive chef in a bed-and-breakfast restaurant in western New Jersey. By 2016, he was married and worked in corporate dining at a research company in Research Triangle Park. In 2019, Covid hit and turned the restaurant business on its ear. Augustus took advantage of this lifestyle change and bought a boat to pursue a lifelong dream of sailing. He and his wife live on their boat, Akaska, at Northwest Creek Marina.
Gus stared at the Pointe in November 2023 and brought the philosophy that has served him well his whole career. "I strive to listen to customers and understand what they want in a restaurant. We are here to serve Fairfield Harbour and make good food."
Making good food is only ½ of the equation for successful restaurants – they must be profitable to survive. Augustus tracks the money with a detailed spreadsheet that logs food costs, labor, and expenses and shows a bottom line. Augustus shared that we are seeing a solid profit in the past few weeks.
One of his strategies was to change the way The Pointe buys food. "Our food purveyors offer options to buy local, fresh food in season. We used to buy pre-made food, but now our focus is to buy local food to ensure freshness and cook from scratch. That not only saves money, but it is just plain, better food," shared Gus. Gus and our new chefs plan meals around what foods are in season. He refers to a chart that the NC Agriculture Association produces. See chart below.
Gus also believes consistent food quality and presentation are the keys to success, and Pointe is working toward that goal. The additional challenge is getting food from the kitchen to the table promptly. Timely delivery of a meal is a problem all restaurants work on, and The Pointe is no exception. Gus says that we strive for no more than a 15-minute turnaround from the order to the delivery. Managing how many customers enter the restaurant is part of the secret to timely food delivery. Staggering reservation times helps with food and bar service. When 50-70 people are coming in all at the same time, the bar and the kitchen are taxed. We plan on adding a dedicated bartender to the food service and one for the bar patrons to alleviate the backup.
Gus and the staff are constantly adding and trying new programs – the Sunday Brunch and Prime Rib Night are two new ones that are gaining traction and more are on the horizon.
The Pointe has a good reputation for music. Amanda Walker, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, books the bands and schedules special events. Amanda shares, "We have some very popular bands that have good following. The new, hot bands with unique sounds catch on fast, and folks come out to enjoy the music. And yes, we ask our entertainment to adjust their sound system to accommodate the size of the room and not play too loud."
Ben Wendle – Sous Chef. Ben has 21 years of restaurant experience, starting when he was 14. His specialty is Oriental and Spanish cuisine. Ben moved here four months ago from the Myrtle Beach/Murrell's Inlet area, where is spent ten years launching various restaurants on Marsh Walk.
Ben worked the concert food circuit for five years with the Garth Brooks Band, Miranda Lampert, and Bon Jovi. Ben said, “It was quite an experience. I traveled on the road with the band in a semi-tractor trailer and fed as many as 150 people - everyone who worked on the concert tour. Garth Brooks was my favorite; he was so down-to-earth and humble. Once, I was pushing a food cart, and a container of whipped cream fell off and made a mess. Garth was behind me, and he told me to go on and serve the dinner and that he would clean it up. It was fun being part of that big family of road musicians."
But time marched on, and Ben's lifestyle changed when he and his wife bought a Gulfstar ‘42 in Clearwater. FL. They sailed up the coast and started looking for a place to land. Melissa, Ben's wife, called Northwest Creek, Jeremy had an opening and the rest was history. Ben felt at home in Fairfield Harbour and found work at The Pointe.
Ben is a dedicated food professional, loves the people in Fairfield, and wants to improve food quality and deliver the meals promptly.
Chef Peter DiNardi - Chef. Peter is a seasoned professional who landed in Eastern NC by sheer serendipity. He lives in Trenton and worked in restaurants on Atlantic Beach before finding his new position at the Pointe. Peter said he and Gus just “clicked.” Before New Bern, Peter lived in New Zealand and worked in the private catering business. He brings 30 years of cooking experience to the table.
Peter has a master’s degree in graphic design and is a studio musician. He owned a studio in New York City and is an accomplished musician playing guitar and adding vocals to recording artist labels.
Peter also ascribes to the theory of cooking good food with the freshest ingredients available. Peter said, "We are no longer a heat-and-serve kitchen; we are a scratch-cooking restaurant and often use family recipes. If you had a bad experience before, please give us another try."
Peter looks forward to creating alternatives to the standard meals and wants to add a dash of "Southern charm." Peter's greatest pleasure is "Seeing a patron sit down for a meal, relax and witness that look that comes on a person’s face when they truly enjoy the food. It can change their whole demeanor. And yes, you eat with your eyes first; I believe presentation is everything."
Peter explains he is a "calm chef;" he has seen some chefs throw conniption fits in the kitchen, but that is not his style. The Pointe has four other cooks in the kitchen, and the goal is to train them to the standard of excellent food service.
Peter says, "With a new food and beverage manager, a new chef, a new sous chef, and four cooks, we have a strong team. We are upping our game at The Pointe. Come on out and give us another try. Just get those reservations so we can best accommodate our customers."