Matt Kendall, Manager at the Mission & Steve Morrison, Chef and Owner of the Mission
On how the Mission prepares for Dining Week
Matt: We have dedicated a whole screen to Dining Week on our Micros system [the electronic cash register system.]
We make sure that our winter menu is out and running smoothly before Dining Week, since we take the Dining Week menu from our winter menu. The flavors on our menu reflect whatever the weather is outside, so our winter menu features a lot of comfort food. We modify the dishes a bit for the Dining Week menu. We schedule extra servers during Dining Week, as well as extra kitchen staff.
On how customer feedback shapes the Mission’s menu
Matt: We change our menu seasonally, but always keep about 50% of our menu items – the ones that are crowd favorites. We listen closely to customer feedback and use it when we create new menus.
We include a comment card with every bill and get about 15 filled out a week. We file and save the comment cards and study them when we are putting together a new menu.
On how the Mission began
Matt: This building is the oldest church in Syracuse. Steve is a sculpture graduate from Syracuse University and designed the interior of the restaurant.
Steve: I had owned a wood-fired pizza restaurant in Armory Square called Movino, but I was looking to do something else. I had always dreamed of having a Mexican restaurant and had always liked spicy food. I would drive by this building every day on the way to work and one day the light went on in my head. The space was empty, but when I contacted the owner he told me another business had already leased the space. I had to wait two years for the space to become available again. I took possession of the space in the beginning of September 1999 and opened on Valentine’s Day 2000.
I went on a buying trip to Mexico before the restaurant opened and got a lot of the masks, tiles and other decorations that hang on the walls. I called the food Pan-American or Latin Fusion when I started to give me a chance to branch out beyond Mexican. I didn’t want people to hear the food described as Mexican and then expect a specific thing. When I was head chef at Pastabilities, I had gotten a chance to flex my culinary muscles and could experiment a lot with dishes and see how people in Syracuse liked them. Also, I was a vegetarian for a number of years and had created a lot of Indian, Thai and Japanese dishes, in addition to Mexican, to keep things interesting.
The Mission is one of the 22 restaurants participating in AmeriCU Dining Week. Visit the restaurant at 304 East Onondaga Street, call 475-7344 for information or reservations or visit www.themissionrestaurant.com for more information.