The restaurant and hospitality industries have long been characterized by a stark divide between high-end luxury and mainstream affordability. Historically, luxury dining has been perceived as exclusive, available only to a select few. Over the past decade, however, these trends have started to shift as more entrepreneurs attempt to make luxury dining experiences accessible to the general public in unique ways. This movement has been driven by innovative approaches to service, pricing, culinary creativity, and more.
For example, restaurants in major cities are introducing premium tasting menus at a fraction of the conventional cost, while others are incorporating high-quality, locally sourced ingredients into more casual settings. This democratization of luxury dining is not just about lower prices. It’s about redefining what luxury means — making it more about the quality and uniqueness of the experience rather than the exclusivity.
Steve Salis has been a torchbearer for this sentiment since first entering the hospitality business years ago. Since then, Salis has refined his premium and approachable philosophy, reshaping how luxury dining is perceived and experienced in his home market area of Washington, DC and beyond.
As the founder of Catalogue Brands through his holding company, Salis Holdings, Salis’s premium and approachable strategy is grounded in the belief that luxury should not be exclusive or prohibitively expensive. He applies a unique blend of operational management and modernization while maintaining and re-invigorating the essence that originally endeared these establishments to their communities. This approach is mostly about redefining the luxury dining experience to make it more welcoming, relatable, and valuable to the customers, not merely offering lower prices.
With an equal talent for breathing new life into heritage brands in need of revitalization and starting new brands from scratch, all of Salis’s current and previous ventures — from &pizza to Ted’s Bulletin to Honeymoon Chicken to Federalist Pig to Kramerbooks, and more — epitomize his philosophy. These establishments have transitioned from traditional models and forgotten establishments to offering high-quality and versatile dining experiences, creating a high-touch clientele who returns multiple times a week for different reasons.
As a result of this concept of democratized luxury, these revitalized spaces become integral to the local culture, fostering a sense of belonging and engagement. This community-centric approach both expands the customer base and contributes positively to the local lifestyle and economy.
Simply put, Steve Salis’s model exemplifies how to democratize luxury in restaurants and hospitality. Luxury dining, when made approachable and affordable, can become a staple in the everyday lives of a wider public, challenging the traditional boundaries of luxury in the hospitality sector.