It all started in the kitchen.
For Charles Carlini, the kitchen is where his first love of being in the restaurant business began. For as a young boy, he had gotten himself a paying job at Yeung’s Chinese Restaurant in Miami Beach. And while working as a dishwasher, scrubbing pots and washing dishes, it suddenly dawned on him, “It’s got to be more fun out front.” And so he knew from that moment on, that his future was going to be on the other side of the kitchen door.
And so it has been. Charles Carlini worked his way up from dish bin to busboy, from waiter to manager, and eventually to Director of Operations at Spread and Scalini Fedeli. His restaurant life has been filled with names you know—like Junior’s in Brooklyn, The Forge and Tiberio in Miami Beach, and Fiorello’s in Manhattan. It was at the latter, that he came to the attention of restaurant impresario Shelly Fireman, who recognizing Charles’ talent in hospitality, urged him to manage his busy Italian eatery in midtown, Trattoria Dell’Arte. This Carlini did for 4 years, and then aided Fireman in raising funds to open The Redeye Grill. Along with Director of Operations, Mark Wood (China Grill, Asia de Cuba), Charles helped steer the Redeye Grill to become one of the most profitable restaurants in the nation.
Carlini eventually joined Placido Domingo of the Metropolitan Opera to manage his Spanish restaurant, Domingo, in midtown Manhattan.
This he followed by going on to Restaurant Associates, where he served as Assistant Director of its flagship restaurant at Rockefeller Center, The Sea Grill. Later, he went on to serve as Director of the Trustees Dining Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Before opening Spread, Carlini helped launch Marc Packer’s midtown brasserie concept Rue 57 in December 1999 and later joined Chef Matthew Kenney (Commune, Canteen) as a managing partner at Matthew’s in the Trump Plaza.
In addition to Carlini’s work in restaurants, he has also been a tireless promoter of jazz—his musical passion. Carlini was born into a musical family and studied music at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. He has produced numerous concerts for the JVC Festival to sell-out audiences. His concerts have received favorable reviews in publications such as Downbeat, Just Jazz Guitar, 20th Century Guitar, The San Francisco Examiner, The Star-Ledger, and The New York Times.
Carlini is also fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian languages.
Occasionally, he can be found going into the kitchen these days—but only to taste.