City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Shooting Into the Stratis-phere with Stratis Morfogen

A 3rd Generation Restauranteur Teaches Us a Thing or Two About Entrepreneurship, Being A Disruptor and Some Damn Good Dumplings!

Staten Island City Lifestyle gets a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of Stratis Morfogen, a restauranteur who is known for his innovative entrepreneurial spirit and for disrupting the food industry with his out-of-the-box thinking.

 

Congratulations on your many accomplishments! Would you mind starting off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a 3rd generation restauranteur. My grandfather had the first Greek restaurant called Pappas from 1910 to 1975. This year I am bringing it back to the Morfogen family after 45 years and opening Pappas Taverna in the West Village. At 6 years old my father had about 14 restaurants. Everything from Greek diners to steakhouses to catering halls. I was very intertwined with my father’s career. Instead of going to Disney World, I would go to the Fulton St Fish Market. At 6 years old I knew what I wanted and when I went to school it was so uninteresting to me. I preferred to be a busboy at my father’s restaurants instead of coloring with crayons and watching cartoons. At 18 years old I outgrew my father and became a full-on entrepreneur. I was best known for Philippe Chow, Jue Lan Club, Gotham Diner, etc. In 2014 I sold Philippe and Jue Lan and created Brooklyn Chop House. It was inspired by Chelsea Chop House which was my father’s restaurant. I like to develop concepts by asking questions so I decided to ask my 17 Chinese chefs what came to mind when they thought of the word ‘chop house’. They told me chop sui, chopsticks, and a chopper who is a very respected person in the kitchen. It was completely different than what came to my mind when I thought of ‘chop house’ which was pork chop, lamb chop, cream of spinach, etc. I wanted to respect both cultures – Beijing Chinese food and an American steak house so we created a combination of both. We started dim sum and chops as well as LSD (lobster, steak and duck). It was the only place you could go for authentic Peking duck, a dry age porterhouse steak and salt, pepper, ginger, garlic lobster done Chinese style. I started the concept in 2018 and it took off from there. We were also doing out-of-the-box concepts such as pastrami dumplings, bacon cheeseburger dumplings, and French onion soup dumplings and I decided to apply this to Brooklyn Dumpling Shop and take it a step further.

We love that you opened Brooklyn Dumpling Shop here on Staten Island. Can you tell us more about the automat and what that process was like?

My idea was that I wanted to create a 2 oz sandwich shop. My partners thought I needed a psychiatrist. What’s a 2 oz sandwich shop? It’s a dumpling. I love to create and I love technology. I started studying about the automat (food being served by vending machines) and before I knew it we had created an interactive kids' meal where Joey Dumplings starts eating dumplings. A QR code will take you into a world of games. I have always disrupted everything I’ve done. Which is how my book came about. The concept was to get people in and out.

It’s a genius concept! Why did you choose dumplings?

It’s a 2oz sandwich. Everything else is over-explained. When my daughter didn’t want to eat fish at 6/7 years old I got out my dumpling maker, chopped up some fish put some garlic, butter whatever wrapped it into a dumpling, pan-fried it and all of a sudden my kids are eating fish. We can elevate the sandwich business and the dumpling business all in one.

 

Any advice you can offer for younger generations?

School doesn’t define you. Give yourself your twenties to find what you are passionate about. Fix it in your thirties. Start making money in your forties and retire in your eighties.

Lastly, where can we purchase your book, Be A Disruptor?

Every online bookstore. Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble etc.