by Terry Rogers
In August 2021, citing staffing difficulties. Steve Akoglu, owner of both Surf and Turf as well as The Palace, announced that the steak and seafood restaurant would be closing temporarily. Akoglu opened the restaurant at the former Bob Evans location, hoping to bring a high-end steak and seafood house to Milford. This week, Akoglu announced that Surf and Turf would be reopening on Tuesday, February 1 for lunch and dinner. In April, they will begin offering breakfast.
“Before we tried to do the better quality, fine dining restaurant,” Akoglu said. “Although it kind of worked in the beginning, we began to struggle. Don’t get me wrong, the high-end steakhouse has business potential, but at the time we just couldn’t get the right help. The help in the kitchen at the time just wasn’t making good food and it was not consistent. It just was not at the fine dining level.”
Akoglu has hired a new chef from New Jersey and adjusted the menu so that it is more in line with what he offers at the Palace. Prices were lowered as most of the feedback he received was that his prices were too high for the area. He also explained that the closure was designed to give him time to regroup and decide which direction he wanted to go.
“It’s not how we wanted to do business,” Akoglu said. “I didn’t want to get a bad reputation in the town. Because if people come here and have a bad experience, you may not get a second chance to fix it. We just didn’t have enough, or the right help and we didn’t want to mess it up.”
The new menu includes many of the Italian specialties offered at The Palace, such as seafood alfredo, shrimp stir fry, chicken Francais and more. Steaks, served with two sides as well as salad or soup include ribeye, prime rib, New York strip, filet and Kansas City dry-aged steak. Prices for the steaks range from $29 to $36, significantly lower than when Surf and Turf opened originally. Other entrees range from $18 to $28 while sandwiches and burgers range from $10 to $14. Sandwiches are served with French fries. There are also a selection of soups and salads available. There is no pizza on the menu, however.
“The bar will continue to offer high-end liquors and wines,” Akoglu said. “But we will also have the standard bar options as well. When we open for breakfast in April, we hope to offer Bloody Mary bars, mimosas and other morning cocktails. With the church right behind us, we have had people ask if we would serve breakfast. Someone can stop in, have breakfast and then head to church, so we wanted to add that. We simply want to wait to get lunch and dinner service worked out first.”
Staffing is still an issue, according to Akoglu, but seems to be improving since the additional $600 in unemployment stipends have ended.
“I had to close my Georgetown location to dinner service,” Akoglu said. “It opened only for breakfast and lunch. This allowed me to shift that staff to Milford, either at the Palace or at Surf and Turf. The Palace is remaining open as well, we are not combining the two locations. We will be open seven days a week, starting next week just for lunch and dinner then in April we will include breakfast.”
Using staff from his other locations will help Surf and Turf remain consistent, Akoglu said.
“If I had to hire all new staff here, we would need 14 to 15 people per shift as they learned how we did things,” Akoglu said. “With staff members, some of which have been with me six or seven years, we can run a shift with just eight as they are familiar with policies, procedures and operations.”
COVID-19 is still a factor in the restaurant industry, Akoglu explained.
“Business is still really slow,” Akoglu said. “At all my locations, we are seeing fewer people coming out to eat and we believe it is related to the new COVID variant. However, I felt that opening Surf and Turf up now was a way to get everything running smoothly before summer which is a much busier time. We hope to have everything established and running smoothly by summer.”
Akoglu believes the Milford community will support the new restaurant and believes they will allow him to work out all the bugs.
“It has been very stressful,” Akoglu said. “It is heartbreaking sitting here and knowing this is still costing money. Being closed does not give you any benefit. Sometimes, people ask “why did you close” and they just don’t understand how difficult a decision that was. We still had a mortgage, we still had bills, it wasn’t like I was just sitting home relaxing.”
Surf and Turf as well as Akoglu’s other restaurants are hiring for all positions, including bartenders, servers, managers and kitchen. Anyone interested can apply by visiting https://surfnturfhouse.com/apply/ or call 302-249-5260. They can also stop in to fill out an application. Surf and Turf is located at 947 North Dupont Highway. Reservations can be made by calling 302-503-5555 or 302-503-5000.
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