Ron Griffin is among the newest faces in Buffalo Grove’s restaurant scene. The veteran chef is the new owner of .
Griffin, who has spent 35 years in the restaurant business, worked for the past 27 years for Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He served as chef, food and beverage director and finally general manager, overseeing a staff of 178, before leaving to run his own restaurant.
“I just wanted to have a business,” said Griffin, who lives in Palatine. He estimated he looked at 50 to 60 restaurants before deciding to purchase Las Palmas.
“It’s kind of like buying a house. You get that feeling of warmth when you walk in,” he said. “I looked at the customer service, wait staff, the atmosphere of the place … (Las Palmas) kind of had it all.”
He took over the restaurant on Nov. 10.
Few changes have been made at the restaurant; Griffin has adopted Las Palmas’ menu — fajitas are the signature dish — and kept its staff of 12, including longtime chef Fernando Soriano.
However, he is placing an emphasis on his Friday-Saturday specials, which change weekly. While some have been in line with the restaurant’s traditional fare, he has offered a Southwestern-style burger, Southwestern crab cakes and even a pasta dish, which received rave reviews. “People loved it,” he said.
He knows that because he makes customer interaction a priority.
“I try to get out and talk to all of the customers, get their feedback on the food,” he said.
Griffin’s business goals are straightforward. “I’m all about customer service, quality of food and the employees,” he said.
Griffin, who also has worked in California, Colorado and Arizona and traveled to Thailand and Bangkok, said he draws inspiration from the culinary flavors of those places.
Spicy food, he said, “doesn’t have to be burning. It’s more about the flavors, the taste that comes out after you’ve eaten it.”
Griffin said he also plans to get involved with the community. Serving military personnel and participating in Buffalo Grove Days are among his goals.
“It’s just exciting,” he said of owning his first restaurant. “I’ve finally gotten into a place where I can kind of do what I want to do.”
Griffin said that he will work to attract a bigger lunch crowd. His $5.95 lunch specials and fast service should appeal to nearby professionals, he said.
Diners likely will see some tweaks to the physical appearance of the restaurant in the future. Griffin said he plans to improve some of the décor, including replacing the carpeting with Spanish-style tile. He also hopes to add outdoor seating.