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August 27, 2014

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Craftsteak’s assistant GM Jessica Aiken strives for excellence

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Steve Marcus

Craftsteak’s assistant GM Jessica Aiken

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Besides a 2,500-strong wine list and a scotch collection that numbers in the hundreds, Craftsteak also offers a fine selection of cocktails, both classic and contemporary. Hailing from the latter list, the Raspberry Martini is a ladies' favorite, boasting Hangar One raspberry vodka, cranberry juice, Chambord and fresh lemon.

It was 13 years ago when Jessica Aiken first joined the MGM Grand family as a member of the hotel operations team. Since then, she's been involved with the hotel in several capacities, from restaurant server to media buyer (she has a degree in marketing from UNLV), but eventually was drawn back to hospitality. Now, as assistant general manager of Tom Colicchio's Craftsteak, she helps run one of the Strip's most respected steakhouses.

"We have a very diverse menu that can cater to anyone," Aiken said. "We're always going above and beyond for our guests. Service is our primary goal and always exceeding our guests' expectations. At MGM, that philosophy also applies everywhere throughout the hotel."

Aiken points out that many of the employees she used to work with when she started at MGM Grand are still there. Craftsteak itself has retained 35 percent of its opening-day staff and recently received two awards, including Best Steakhouse 2010 by the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association and a 2010 James Beard Award for Oustanding Chef for Colicchio.

Like the man whose name graces the exterior of the restaurant, Aiken has her own set of (very high) standards, part of what has helped Craftsteak develop a sterling reputation over the years.

"I'm more by the book," Aiken said. "I expect perfection, and I demand it. I expect our staff to follow through — and they do."

— Originally published in Las Vegas Magazine

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