Look Up, Get Up, And Don’t Ever Get Up

After giving the presentation of my lifetime to a room full of my peers, we gathered around to watch the announcements of the award winners for the entire company.

I had really thought is was my year to take home the big prize.  The GM Of The Year.

I had thought I deserved it.  6 straight years of positive sales growth.  1st in the Division, 2nd over all.  Years of ingenuity and personal growth for not only myself but my entire team.

It would have put the feather in a capped to an amazing year long project of both personal and professional achievements.

As it became abundantly clear that my name was not going to be read, my head filled with disappointment.

I then began to think about Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame Speech.  And I realized that even though I’m going to be disappointed for a while, I will need to pick myself up, redouble my efforts, and never give up.


 sat right here where you are last year and I watched the Class of 2006:  And I said, Wow, that’s what a Hall of Famer is.

Certainly I am not that. I doubted I would ever have the chance to stand before you today. So when I returned home, I spoke with Michael and Elijah . I said, That’s how you do it, son. You do it like they did it. Michael asked, he said, Dad, do you ever think we will be there? And I didn’t know how to answer that. And it returned me to that threshing floor. This time I was voiceless, but my heart cried out. God, why must I go through so many peaks and valleys?

I wanted to stand in front of my boys and say, Do it like your dad, like any proud dad would want to. Why must I go through so much?

At that moment a voice came over me and said, Look up, get up, and don’t ever give up. You tell everyone or anyone that has ever doubted, thought they did not measure up or wanted to quit, you tell them to look up, get up and don’t ever give up.





Record Year

As October began, the year ended…the fiscal year.  My 5th year as a General Manager ended in poetic fashion.  

My team and I had been able to produce positive sales growth 4 years in a row.  And just when I thought there was no way that we could pull it off again, we answered that challenge by not only raising sales but leading the division and delivering the second best comp sales in the entire company.   

To top it off, we have recently been granted the privilege to become a training Restaurant. Where new managers come to our restaurant to learn their craft.   It is a great honor that has taken years to gain this distinction.  

I don’t think anyone on my team understands how proud I am of these accomplishments and how I couldn’t have done it without out them. 

To anyone on my team reading this….thank you for all that you do.  It is greatly appreciated.  I hope that I have helped you move towards your own goals as you have help me towards mine.  

The Lucky Break


Today I take you back to February of 2011.  I was 24 years old, and even though I was a successful District Manager for a Dunkin Donuts Franchise in the suburbs of Rochester, I was enjoying the twenties lifestyle so much, that I had to work two other part-time jobs to support it and that box of a studio apartment that I passed out in.  Once in a while.

I had just found out that I was going to be a father and I hadn’t quite figured out what my next move was.  Like I said, I was working two other part-time jobs.  One being a bar back and cook at a local sports bar,  I was a bit overqualified for that position but I really enjoyed working there and for the couple that owned it.  And the other was a stint on the line at my current full service restaurant company.

I was hired with the company for the first time in late 2004 and though I had transferred and left employment from this company on three separate occasions, I always seemed to wash back on their shores in a moment of need.  Whether it was their need or my need depended on the situation.

Now, when it comes to my career.  I always have seemed to be in the right place at the right time.  “God protects fools and drunks” Anthony Bourdain once said.  And this occasion was no exception


Shortly after returning to life on the line that January, I remember how pissed off I was when I was scheduled against my availability to work the garde manger station on random Sunday afternoon.  That’s just a fancy term used to make a salad preparer sound more important, which these days depending on your restaurants concept can be very important.

Sunday afternoons were not in my availability and I sure as hell hadn’t worked that salad station in years.  Hell, I didn’t have a clue what half the preparations were.   But I showed up for the shift without complaint like the good soldier I was.   And there he was.

The “he” I’m referring to was none other that the Monopoly Man himself, the Regional Director.  He indeed bore a striking resemblance to Rich Uncle Pennybags from the famous board game and today he was going to change my life.

He and I locked eyes immediately.  Did the GM schedule me on this shift on purpose so that I would be here when he was here?  If so…well played sir.  I had worked with this RD before in many different restaurant locations and we had a great history, but I hadn’t seen him since I had left to gain management experience with another company.

And after hearing about what I had been up to lately and my son on the way, he inquired if I would be interested in getting into full service management.

The rest is history.  I few rides east,7795fdea050dd0849fbdf50e7bd76fc8--luck-of-the-irish-irish-luck to Syracuse in the winter for interviews and assessments, my POS Lincoln barely making the journey, and it was a done deal.  I relocated to Syracuse in March for Manager Training and my climb up the corporate ladder had begun.

Making it all happen

One thing thats different about me this year is that I certainly don’t have very much “idle time”.  

My Resolutions keep me busy from sun up to so sun down almost every day.   Trying to make time for work, time to exercise, time for others, time to be silly, time for projects can be very exhausting.  No different from anyone else.

To make it all happen I have to use all favorite time management techniques.

1.  Plan each day in advance – used to have every 15 Minutes planned out but that made me more stressed because of all the unpredictability of life.   Now I just jot down a rough outline of what I want to accomplish the night before.

2.  Delegate – if you are lucky to have people working under you.  Delegate anything that can be done just as good or better to someone else.  This frees you up to focus on the tasks only you can or should handle

3.  Follow the 2 Minutes Rule – anything that can be done in 2 min or less do right away.  Saving large chunks of time for big projects. 

4.  also follow the 5 second rule – see my previous article for more info on this

5.  Set a quitting time – decide in advance when you are going to stop working then do something relaxing. 

6.   take a day off once a week.  

5 Principles To Live By  To Find Happiness In Your Restaurant Job

I am now in my 15th year in the food service industry.   That is half my lifetime and all of my working career.   I have worked in pretty much every position available.   From Dishwasher to General Manager.  I have also work in customer service and sales… Horrible fields.    At the beginning of the year I found myself well…Not as happy as I should be. Life in restaurants can wear your down it you let it.   So I set out to find ways to boost my Happiness.  

Whether you’re a restaurant lifer like me, working your way through college, or just laying low while you look for a “real job”    (huge insult to career people).  There is no reason why the restaurant grind has to be a miserable one.  

Here are five principles that you can try to live by if you find yourself in this business.  
1.  Show Up

Physically show up.  On time.  Get your self and your station ready to go.     Don’t show up 5-10 minutes late.  You will find yourself behind and stressed out, not just you… Your team as well.  

Mentally show up as well.   As hard as it can be check your personal dilemmas at the door you must find a way.  You will be a liability to yourself and your team.   

And maybe you should think about putting off  the indulging of certain substances until after work.  Just saying…I don’t know many circumstances where they led to improved work performance.  
2.  Lighten up

Take the job seriously…But don’t take yourself too seriously.    Get to know your teammates and be amused by them.   Have fun while getting the job done.  

“Have a sense of humor about things…You”ll need it”. Anthony Bourdain

3.  Prepare  yourself for the worst

Saying that the restaurant is unpredictable is an understatement.  As bad as things get…And they will get bad, the shift is going to end, the doors will lock, the tickets will stop coming.    

Stay calm.  Stay positive.   This will pass

4.  Accept that life is not fair

“Be prepared to witness every variety of human folly and injustice.” Bourdain 
5.  Take Time Off

I know it’s very difficult to get time off in the industry, regardless of your title.  Work with your boss to find the appropriate times so you can better your work life balance while being fair to your team

 At the very least…Take one day off a week and two weeks off  a year.   Cover for your teammates…They will (should) do it for you.

Another School Break in the books.  

Technically, the school vacation isn’t over until Sunday.  But I count Friday as the beginning of the end.   On these breaks, my modest family restaurant turns into Chuckie Cheese.   With wild kids coming in droves.  Running through the aisles, going in the bathrooms and crawling under the parishions to lock the stall doors, and finding other ways to cause mischief.    It’s part of the business and my restaurant team shares the mentality of “the more the merrier.” Since, in the casual dining industry you have to fight for every customer to survive.   

The constant pounding of restaurant life takes it toll on everyone’s mind and body and I for one am looking forward to taking some time off.  But that won’t happen until Mid May.

  I couldn’t find the coffee urn this morning… No matter I will heat  and ladle my coffee from the Soup warmer.   “Please Sir…May I have some more”

I shouldn’t complain…It could still be snowing.  But I’m tired of it’s being so dreary out.  

This tree in my front yard is going down

I hate ricotta and I hate zucchini but this zucchini lasagna that my wife made was actually really good

I did have a little time in between the rain to get out and walk the Chittenango Creek Walk that I came across earlier this week

Getting Everything You Want


Today was the day to give semi annual reviews  to my assistant managers and no better time for a literal interpretation of my February Resolution to Give Positive Reviews.   

It was a difficult year for  my team.  Full of a lot of change, trials, and tribulations.   But through the ups and downs of the review process I was happy to tell both of them how proud of them I was.   

As good as it felt to say that to them, I came to the realization that it’s more important for them to grow in the company.   It’s also important for my growth.  

This quote from the late Zig Ziglar says it all

Of course  as a manager I have always knew that but this year it’s time to put it into action.