Hot Rocks Creative Diner
By YP Contributor

The Right Place at the Right Time

Russ has a background in the food and beverage industry, but it was his drive to succeed that really endeared him to his business partner, Chris, and in 1996 Russ joined the then three-year-old Hot Rocks Creative Diner. “It was just an opportunity,” Russ says modestly. “The people part of it was my strength, and it’s Chris’s strength as well. We both are all about our customers.” Russ quickly proved to be an integral part of the business, and has been helping Chris make Hot Rocks a Whitby landmark ever since.

The popular spot is known for everything from burgers to pasta, but their wood-oven fired pizzas are definitely a customer favourite. Whether you prefer classic toppings like pepperoni and mushroom, or go for something more creative like duck confit or slow-roasted pork belly roulade, you won't be disappointed.

If you’ve been here once, (the staff will) most likely recognize your face,.. If you’ve been here twice, they most likely know what you drink. If you’ve been here three times, they can most likely place your order for you. - Russ, Owner

Friendly Service is a Priority

When you walk inside Hot Rocks, you’re immediately welcomed into a warm, cozy atmosphere that makes the large space feel like an expanded dining room. And once you’re seated at one of the tables, you’ll be part of what Russ calls a Cheers atmosphere. “If you’ve been here once, (the staff will) most likely recognize your face,” he says. “If you’ve been here twice, they most likely know what you drink. If you’ve been here three times, they can most likely place your order for you…the core customer base that we have here is very strong.”

This level of friendly service is something Russ practices firsthand. When he joined Chris at Hot Rocks, he got to know the restaurant inside out. “As far as when I started working here,” he explains, “I did every aspect of the business: I did the bar, did the door, worked in the kitchen, washed dishes–you gotta learn everything…and you’re only as good as your people.”

Hot Rocks Creative Diner
Hot Rocks Creative Diner

Great Chefs, Great Food

Russ will go to just about any length to make sure your experience at Hot Rocks is a great one, whether it’s modifying your order so it tastes just right or hiring staff who are already seasoned experts in the dining industry.

But perhaps the biggest secret of Hot Rocks’s success lies in its kitchen, as Russ’s ace up his sleeve is his executive chef, the Red Seal-trained Sean. “Everything’s made in-house,” Russ says. “Nothing is ordered in…He’s the same chef (at our sister restaurant) The Brock House; he oversees the two restaurants.”

Those working under Sean are capable chefs in their own right, but they also get the added benefit of their executive chef’s tutelage. “Some of them are working on their (Red Seal) papers,” Russ says. “They’re people that are foodies. They’re all about being chefs…they went to school for it, and they’ve been with me a long time, too.”

Hot Rocks Creative Diner
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