[By Felicia Solazzo]
There is a new name on the Space Coast that may be right up there in the pantheon of Ruth’s Chris or Shula’s. David Dashi will always have a passion for serving Italian food. But when he developed the concept for his new steakhouse, Chef’s Table, he saw an opportunity to offer something unique to this community.
After conducting a survey among his loyal patrons at Amici’s Italian Restaurant in Suntree, Dashi found what a majority of locals wanted was a phenomenal steak without having to drive an hour or two. Moreover, customers wanted to see the preparation of their meals as a part of the dining experience. Chef Dashi set out to create something unique that left nothing behind closed doors.
New Look and Much More
At the entrance to the steakhouse is an intimate lounge. Customers can have a cocktail on one of the black leather couches or enjoy a menu item at the spacious, granite bar.
In the main dining room, an open kitchen allows for conversation to flow throughout the night between Dashi and diners. Cameras streaming to a large flat screen afford customers the opportunity to have a view of the chef in action.
“I always wanted my customers, friends and family to feel as though they are at home in my kitchen. I want them to say, ‘I’m going to go to Dave’s kitchen,’ not just Chef’s Table,” David shared.
For appetizers, customers rave about the antipasto. Popular entrees include filet mignon, bone-in ribeye, veal chop (one of Dashi’s favorites), and lobster mac and cheese. Dashi wanted quality food leaving his kitchen, so he obtained a special license from Certified Angus Beef, to prepare and serve only the most select cuts.
“If someone wants a filet mignon, and I don’t have the prime beef, I’m not serving it to them.”
In addition to five-star food, Dashi is known for offering his customers five-star service. “I’m always concerned that my customers are being taken care of. I created this restaurant to create friendships with people.” Loosely translated, “Amici’s,” appropriately, means “friend” in Italian.
“The people who come here, they are famous to me. They put me where I am today. Any person who enters my restaurant, I want to recognize them and get to know them. But the ones who are here year-round and continue to support me, I care about them. My restaurant is not seasonal – it is built on my great customers.”
From Chef To Entrepreneur
While living in New York, Dashi was a chef at a restaurant called Amici’s, however his heart was always set on becoming a restaurant owner. “I know where I want to go, and I know where I want to be. In anything you do, if you don’t have a goal, it is very hard to be successful.”
With that mindset, he bought into the New York location. But while vacationing in Brevard County over a decade ago, he had a new goal in mind.
In 2007, Dashi and his wife Valentina opened Amici’s at the Boardwalk of Suntree Plaza. Becoming an area favorite, the couple decided to open another restaurant in Indian Harbour Beach. “The finances were lucrative, everything was great, but it took me away from my family. I’d get up in the morning, have my cup of coffee, then tell my wife, ‘Ok, you work in this restaurant today, and I’ll work in this restaurant.’”
After two years, Dashi sold the beachside location to focus on the Suntree establishment.
“This [location] is my home. Both my kids and my wife are here. We work together every day, we see each other every day, and our employees have become family to us as well. It is hard to break away from.”
Such an attachment to a restaurant comes with sacrifices. Dashi said, “People ask how much free time I have for my family. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say 3. But if you can agree on sticking together, then everything will balance out. We set aside time for family days. If you lose touch with each other, all the other things you have, they don’t mean anything.”
At the start of his entrepreneur journey, Dashi faced hard times, but he maintained a positive attitude. “You hear the economy is up and down, but I didn’t want to plant the negatives in my head. I wanted to focus on what I could do tomorrow. There were hard times, but the most important thing for me was always looking forward, and that propelled me.
“If you cannot pay your bills today, there’s always tomorrow. I’ve seen places go out of business, and part of the reason is they are listening to what people are bringing from the outside. Things are bad at times, but you have to work it. I worked hard seven days a week, open to close, but it paid off for me. Now, things are beautiful.”
Backing Local Enterprises
The chef and restaurant owner said his experiences since moving to Brevard County are unmatched thanks to the loyal, caring and friendly residents. In paying that forward Dashi supports community efforts in return. For several years, Amici’s has participated in the annual golf tournament at Suntree Country Club to benefit Brevard PALS Autism Coalition. In addition, the restaurant has worked with the American Cancer Society, Habitat For Humanity and March of Dimes.
He loves to give back, primarily when it stays in Brevard.
“If a person comes here and tries to sell something, my first question is, ‘Are you local?’ I will give them the business if they are. Even if it costs me fifty cents or a dollar more, I make sure it stays local. I am not going to shop outside of Brevard County. I trust the people around me. I believe in supporting locals and your neighbors. Those are the people who will help you grow,” Dashi commented.
In spite of his success, Dashi doesn’t rest on his laurels, “I don’t think for a minute that I can sit back and do nothing. As a business right now, I will continue to focus on where I am and provide to people—through my two different restaurants—a dining experience that they cannot find anywhere else in Brevard.”
Although pleased with his recent success at Chef’s Table, Dashi is considering additional services he can offer to the community. “Coming up, I would love to introduce cooking classes into the restaurant. Customers can come in groups of 15 for a special event, or a husband and wife can come for a date, and I can show them a few things,” the chef and restaurant owner said.
That’s Dashi; he always keeps a goal in mind. When he reaches one, he sets another.
“I achieved what I wanted to achieve as a restaurant owner, and everything is falling into place. My next goal is to lead someone else in this profession. Dashi pointed out, “In the restaurant industry, people need to love it. If you don’t love the business, it is hard to make it.” u