Home » Busi­ness Insights » Well done: Custo­mer loyal­ty at the Jel­mo­li Mar­ket Grill

23 May 2018

Well done: Custo­mer loyal­ty at the
Jel­mo­li Mar­ket Grill

The popu­lar Jel­mo­li Mar­ket Grill offers custo­mers more than just fine dining in sty­lish sur­roun­dings. It is also a mul­ti-sen­so­ry oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the company’s phi­lo­so­phy.

The name of Jel­mo­li stands for the famous pre­mi­um depart­ment store at Zurich’s best address, and thus for a uni­que shop­ping expe­ri­ence. Not (yet) so well known: One can also enjoy unusual­ly good food here. CEO Fran­co Sava­sta­no and Grill chef Dani­el Ste­fa­nak talk about custo­mers, rela­ti­onships, and the one true way of sea­so­ning.

It’s a quar­ter to twel­ve. Fran­co Sava­sta­no, Jel­mo­li CEO, takes the lift to the bot­tom floor. He’s hea­ding for The Mar­ket Grill. He finds Grill chef Dani­el Ste­fa­nak twit­ching a fork into line – after all, ever­ything has to look just right. For the luncht­i­me custo­mers, expec­ted any minu­te. and, of cour­se, for his boss, who likes to come a bit ear­lier and lea­ve room for the guests at luncht­i­me. The­re is a hear­ty wel­co­me, and then Sava­sta­no orders a dry-aged ent­re­cote, sits down, and lets his gaze sweep over the beau­ti­ful­ly-desi­gned Food Mar­ket. He doesn’t have to wait long for his steak. «Our grill comes from New York and was the second of its kind in Switz­er­land», exp­lains Ste­fa­nak proud­ly. «It heats up to 800 degrees. You need just 90 seconds at this heat to give the meat a fan­ta­stic crust on the out­si­de, while it’s per­fect­ly medi­um rare on the insi­de.»

Dani­el Ste­fa­nak has around 300 regu­lars in The Mar­ket Grill – most­ly from Zürich and the sur­roun­ding area.

Then the meat is rea­dy; neat­ly sli­ced into a taglia­ta, the steak plat­ter is ser­ved. Sava­sta­no cuts his first sli­ce. «Per­fect!» For hims­elf, Ste­fa­nak has pre­pa­red a Pre­mi­um Wagyu beef bur­ger. «The bur­ger meat has an opti­mal marb­ling of five to seven degrees», exp­lains the expert, con­ti­nuing, «that means it has the per­fect balan­ce of meat to fat.» Or for the lay­man: the meat is beau­ti­ful­ly ten­der. Dani­el Ste­fa­nak loves to pro­mo­te the qua­li­ty of his ingre­dients to the guests. And this small bou­tique restau­rant, tucked in the cor­ner, is ide­al for the pur­po­se. From the bar, you can look over and watch him gril­ling. The but­cher is on the right; the wine cel­lar on the left. Dani­el Ste­fa­nak has around 300 regu­lars in The Mar­ket Grill – most­ly from Zürich and the sur­roun­ding area. Howe­ver, some of them come from Bern, Lucer­ne, even Dubai. «The­se custo­mers gene­ral­ly come to the city on busi­ness. But on their way from the air­port or train sta­ti­on, they often head strai­ght to us first», he exp­lains, laug­hing. It’s easy to belie­ve him: he talks about many of them by name.

«The ent­re­cote is excel­lent again», prai­ses Fran­co Sava­sta­no. «Just the way I like it» – and just what the custo­mers of a pre­mi­um depart­ment store expect. High qua­li­ty stan­dards are fun­da­men­tal here: a spi­rit that doesn’t just app­ly to the items in the shelf, but is also lived out in the eate­ries. Jel­mo­li has nine restau­rants, five of which have wai­ter ser­vice. The vege­ta­ri­an takea­way is appro­pria­te­ly loca­ted near to the vege­ta­ble depart­ment, and the Mar­ket Grill is right by the meat coun­ter. It’s all part of what Sava­sta­no calls the «custo­mer expe­ri­ence». «We want to make the qua­li­ty of our gro­ce­ries part of the expe­ri­ence. All our customer’s sen­ses should be tick­led. Perhaps the custo­mer is stan­ding in the vege­ta­ble depart­ment and sud­den­ly fan­ci­es a cris­py wrap? Then they can take a seat in the Bad Hun­ter takea­way. Almost ever­ything we sell here can also be eaten. An inte­gra­ted con­cept, which kind­les our custo­mers’ enthu­si­asm and also – we hope – increa­ses the length of their stay», exp­lains Sava­sta­no.

Meat lovers will find exact­ly what they’re loo­king for at The Mar­ket Grill. The small menu with excel­lent gril­led plat­ters and appro­pria­te accom­p­ani­ments will cer­tain­ly be per­fect for some peop­le. But the­re are also times when you’re loo­king for some­thing a bit dif­fe­rent. Then you can buy a giant steak from the butcher’s oppo­si­te – Chia­ni­na, dry-aged beef, of cour­se – and Dani­el Ste­fa­nak will be hap­py to pre­pa­re it pro­fes­sio­nal­ly alla Fio­ren­ti­na strai­ght away. «Why not?», he says. «After all, two storeys hig­her you can get a tailor-made suit. In this way, I can pre­pa­re exact­ly the cut of meat that they want for my custo­mers.» «Abso­lute­ly», agrees Sava­sta­no. «Perhaps our custo­mer will find the per­fect bot­t­le of Bor­deaux to go with their lunch in our wine depart­ment. This is how we make the qua­li­ty of our pro­ducts part of the uni­que shop­ping expe­ri­ence we offer our custo­mers.»

«I’m hap­py to show my guests how they can best pre­pa­re their meat at home», says Ste­fa­nak. «So they learn, for examp­le, that we never use mari­na­des, which would stif­le the fan­ta­stic aro­ma of our meat. Qui­te the oppo­si­te: we actual­ly empha­si­ze and bring out the fla­vour with our home-made salt.» This tip has been so popu­lar with the guests that more and more often, they ask for the salt and want to purcha­se it. «We didn’t actual­ly anti­ci­pa­te that. But we’re now sel­ling around 2,000 jars of it every year», laughs Ste­fa­nak.

Fran­co Sava­sta­no and Dani­el Ste­fa­nak enjoy the quiet minu­tes befo­re the first guests arri­ve.

His boss is delight­ed. «Gre­at – a won­der­ful examp­le of our pro­xi­mi­ty to our custo­mers»: some­thing that is very clo­se to Fran­co Savastano’s heart. «We are not just a depart­ment store, we live out our phi­lo­so­phy», he exp­lains. «Jel­mo­li is ful­ly demo­cra­tic. We aim to offer some­thing for ever­yo­ne. Our ran­ge of pro­ducts is not just broad but also deep, with a high-qua­li­ty offer for every pur­se. Qua­li­ty is not­hing eli­te or out-of-the-ordi­na­ry here.» «Plus we offer our friend­li­ness free with it», adds Ste­fa­nak.

He’s been working for Jel­mo­li for seven years now: to start with, he worked through a num­ber of depart­ments, befo­re fin­ding his favou­ri­te post in 2014: Grill­ma­ster at The Mar­ket Grill. «An abso­lu­te dream job. I feel at home here», he exp­lains. Is the­re real­ly not­hing he’d chan­ge? «No! Actual­ly, yes! There’s just one thing that bothers me a litt­le: The Mar­ket Grill just doesn’t have enough sea­ting space.» ‘As you can see’, he could have added, for the Grill is fil­ling up now. High time for Fran­co Sava­sta­no to take his lea­ve. «Thank you, and see you soon», he calls, and heads for the lift.