Featured in the Palm Beach Post October 31, 2016:
By Jennifer Sorentrue Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Christopher Artinian is president and CEO of TooJay’s Gourmet Deli & Restaurant, a growing chain that has been gracing the taste buds of Palm Beach County for more than three decades.
TooJay’s, which began its first restaurant on Palm Beach in 1981, now has 28 locations statewide. Ten of those restaurants are in Palm Beach County.
Artinian, who took over the West Palm Beach-based company in April, has been working to evolve the brand — remodeling eight of its restaurants and updating its menu format to give them a more contemporary look.
Before joining TooJay’s, Artinian served as the president and CEO of Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill. He previously worked as the head of Morton’s steakhouse, where he started as a pantry cook and worked his way up to president and CEO.
Name: Christopher Artinian
Hometown: I’m originally from northwestern Long Island, New York.
Where you live now: West Palm Beach.
About your company: TooJay’s is a deli, restaurant and bakery. We have been around for 35 years, and we are really known for just being an unbelievable deli. We make our desserts from scratch. We also do a tremendous amount of catering business.
How your business has changed: There has never been more competition, especially in casual dining. Everyone is offering great food. We feel we have not only great homestyle food, but excellent hospitality.
First paying job and what you learned from it: When I was barely a teenager, I worked in a shipping department for a consumer goods company. How to be a team player was the biggest thing I learned that first summer.
First break in the business: Morton’s gave me my first big break as a pantry cook in 1995. I made $4.13 an hour. I always strived to be in management, and as the company grew, so did my career.
Best business book you’ve read: “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t,” by Jim C. Collins.
Best piece of business advice you’ve received: Transparency — ensuring that communication is at a level that everyone understands the goals.
What you tell young people about your business: I think it is the most fun industry you can be in. It’s about great food and great fun. I am in an industry that has the ability to change someone’s day for the better every time they walk through the doors.
What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? We just opened up in Palm Beach Outlets, and I think there are similar opportunities throughout the county. We have a baseball stadium being built, and I think that speaks to the fact that we still have some headroom to grow in Palm Beach County.
Where we can find you when you are not at the office: With my family. I have five kids. I’m usually on a ballfield or at some type of athletic function.
Favorite smartphone app: I have a myriad of food apps on my phone, but the one I use most is probably Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It gives you all the little mom-and-pops in an area.
What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? Hospitable personality. They are generally not only great with guests, but also great with a team.