Steve Carlson


Bachelor of Science – Related Art
University of Wisconsin; Madison, Wisconsin
Professional Member, Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI)

Top Achiever Consultant Award
Foodservice Equipment and Supplies Magazine – 2013

As the leader of our firm, Steve borrows his motto from George S. Patton, who said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” He welcomes dissenting opinions and encourages each person to take on new responsibilities in order to leverage the variety of experiences, perspectives, and opinions of the whole team. In return, individuals enjoy the freedom to figure out how to get the job done and the responsibility and ownership of a successful project.

Watching employees grow with each new design challenge is one of Steve’s favorite parts of his job; giving back is the other. He takes part in community organizations like Share Our Strength, Open Arms, and Second Harvest—where the goals are to deliver meals, feed kids and end hunger.

Steve discovered foodservice design consulting as an undergraduate and knew it was the ideal fit for his two passions—food and design. He has seen a tremendous change in retail food display over the years; back then a salad bar was a really big deal. Deli concepts were just starting, there certainly weren’t bakeries or coffee bars and a pizza station was pretty fancy stuff. Now it’s action cooking and made-to-order, which are right up Steve’s alley as a fine food appreciator.

Steve’s collection of restaurant recommendations have led him from Archie’s in LeMars, Iowa for an excellent Vienna Red Hot to our first international project in Tokyo for sushi. Among his favorite experiences was at Arzak, one of the top 50 restaurants in the world in Spain, where every plate is a work of art. Whether it’s an out-of-the-way hole-in-the-wall or four-star dining, there really isn’t anywhere that he wouldn’t go for a good meal.

Which is all to say, Steve really loves food. He loves designing spaces to serve food and the satisfaction of seeing a project come together where everyone’s voice is heard, from the chefs who make it, the people who serve it, and their customers who enjoy it. He approaches a project from what is practical, affordable, and sustainable. He specializes in projects with short timelines, complicated renovations, and large-scale projects requiring complex organization and planning. His combination of creativity and sensibility is illustrated through his attention to detail and concern for quality, add that to his extensive industry knowledge and it equals successful designs specific to each project.

His definition of success is shown by operators and chefs who feel they designed the space themselves at the end of a project. The ability to listen so well to what his client’s needs are is the reason they keep coming back year after year.