Mays grad cooking up a tasty new venture

Uploaded by maysbusiness on 12.02.2010

Chrystal Houston:
This is Veritas Wine and Bistro on University Avenue in College Station. Since its grand
opening in January of 2007, this restaurant has been making an impact on the local dining scene
with their unique French, Asian-American cuisine and collection of fine wines. In addition
to their incredible menu and contemporary ambiance, another thing sets this restaurant
apart. The management team is comprised entirely of Aggies including two Mays Business School
graduates. Meet head chef, Tai Lee, a finance graduate from the class of 2002. Lee has been
involved with the creation of Veritas from the beginning. He has brought his varied culinary
training into focus with the creation of a menu you wont find anywhere else in College
Station including options like barracuda and mako shark.
Tai Lee:
We do really pride ourselves on a fresh fish. Our sashimi, which means raw cuts of fish,
we get all of our fish from Hawaii overnight.
Chrystal Houston:
"It's not just the amazing food; the wine is what sets Veritas apart from other restaurants
in the area" according to Scott Hydo, marketing graduate, class of 2001. Hydo is the bar manager
and an assistant sommelier.
Scott Hydo:
Well I graduated from A&M. I was class of 2001, graduated in '03. I worked at Christopher's
for a long time while I was in college so I kind of got the wine and the food down.
I have a marketing degree and I kind of used that as I went to work for a public beverage
in the beverage industry for the last three and a half years. I then came on with Veritas
about a month ago. This is the best place in town. I mean it's really like something
transformed in from Dallas or Houston. I mean, when I was in college, we had nothing-nothing of this sort.
You know, it's an amazing wine list, the food is amazing, you know, the seafood comes in daily
from Hawaii. I mean, you just, it doesn't get any better than that.
Chrystal Houston:
Other Aggies make up the rest of the management team and the owners, Mike and Taffy O'Brien,
are Aggie parents. With Veritas, they're not just trying to make a profit feeding people
in College Station, for them, it's about passion. Meet sous chef Kris Keeler, class of 2006.
Kris Keeler:
Right before I graduated I went and saw an advisor and she was like, 'well I've got to
ask you what you want to be when you grow up' so I was like, 'I need another appointment
kind of thing.' I just decided this is where I want to be. If I had a million dollars,
I'd be in a kitchen so I enjoy it.
Chrystal Houston:
It takes more than passion to keep a restaurant running. Chef Lee says that in the months
they've been open, there have been challenges but they were well prepared.
Tai Lee:
Well, the finance degree really got me aware of the dollars and cents. A lot of the restaurants
fail because either it's a poorly conceived idea or poorly executed so we really tried,
from the get go, we try to make sure that the restaurant would provide a perfect ambiance and a perfect
food quality. But also, going into the restaurant operation with enough cushion where we could
focus on the quality for, you know, several years to come without really worrying about 'are we
going to make it?' I think, you know, school, prepared me very well for this kind of operation
because we do see different things every day and we have to be very fluid in terms of our
tactics and our strategy. You know, I'm very fortunate that I graduated from Texas A&M
because the preparation that I received definitely helped me prepare for this restaurant operation
and there's not too much of a last minute surprise. We did expect what was going to
happen and the expectation was met with the reality so I'm very happy.
Chrystal Houston:
So far, the restaurant is doing very well thanks in part to special events and marketing initiatives.
Scott Hydo:
They put out a great newsletter that we write once a month talks about upcoming events,
what's going on, what we're doing in the future.
Chrystal Houston:
Recently, Veritas was recognized by Wine Spectator with the 2007 Award of Excellence honoring
them for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world. According
to Lee, they have more than 1,800 bottles of wine in stock, representing 350 varieties
from all over the world.
Tai Lee:
Well a lot of the clientele, which is late 20s and on, really appreciate the
fact that we try to make it more the mature place to enjoy your wine and food and dining
experience. Some of the couples just request these seats so much. They're like, 'we want
to sit down by the wine.' No problem, right here.
Chrystal Houston:
To accompany this array of wines is an ever-changing menu that has created quite a following of
devoted Chef Lee fans.
Veritas Customer:
Gosh, what's there not to like. The fish is insane. I just got a scarlet snapper in today.
He's putting some things together back there. This is the fun part, sitting right here,
watching what he's doing. One skill that he's developed and the one skill that he has that
most great chefs don't have is that he's got more than one menu in him. He's already gone
through three this year.
Tai Lee:
A lot of our regulars, they're like, 'oo he did this, what's he going to do next.'
Chrystal Houston:
From Mays Business Online, this is Chrystal Houston.