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Checking in with Morton’s co-founder Klaus Fritsch

Klaus Fritsch, co-founder of Morton’s The Steakhouse, was in Baltimore and Annapolis this week promoting the restaurant’s new cookbook, and I had a chance to speak with him Thursday.

Although this is the second Morton’s cookbook in three years, Fritsch, who is the author, said it will likely be the last. Or at least as long as he’s still around, it will be.

“We had a great reception from the first one, so we did a second,” he said.

“But I just don’t think there’s room for a third,” he added, pointing out the recipes in the books are also used in Morton’s restaurants.

After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

All right, it’s not quite like that — after all these ingredients don’t come cheap, and sometimes the hassle of making the meal doesn’t outweigh the cost of going out. But what is interesting to note is the release of the cookbook also comes at a time when some Morton’s diners are turning to eating more meals in, according to Fritsch.

While that may be nice for cookbook sales, it doesn’t change the fact that dining room sales have decreased. But Morton’s isn’t alone, said Fritsch.

“Of course we’re affected by [the economy], but everybody has been,” he said. “Everyone’s having deals now to counteract that and so are we… But we’re an expensive place, let’s face it. On the other hand, if you really want a good steak, you’ll still go out for it.”

He said Morton’s shoots for opening a few restaurants a year (any more would overtax the company’s resources), and has two or three in the works for next year. But this year, just one new Morton’s is opening this fall in Miami, although several other locations have undergone a remodel.

“I think right now [the economy] is staying where it is although it’ll probably get a little better next year,” he said.

But in the meantime, that doesn’t stop the steak house from continuing on with its philanthropy. As with the last cookbook release, this year’s promotional tour (42 cities in three months for Fritsch) will also benefit local food kitchens.

At the silent auctions held in Annapolis and Baltimore this week, Morton’s raised a total of about $4,400 for the Maryland Food Bank.

“Every time we do something new with Morton’s, like a new restaurant or promotion, we try to get a local organization involved because you want to give something back to the community,” said Fritsch. “And I think people feel better giving when they know the money stays in the community — especially this year.”

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  1. from what I’ve heard, the service at Morton’s is terrible. It’s why I haven’t tried it out yet.

  2. I’ve never heard anyone complaint that service is horrible. In my experience, the service has always been excellent.