With its weekends, holidays and late nights, I have been asked, “Why do you do what you do? Why is this the profession you have chosen?”
My Answer: I did not choose this profession…it chose me. I am – at heart – a teacher, an environmentalist, an animal lover, and a person who thrives on giving back. When life handed me a situation that literally threw me into the restaurant business, my dreams were put on hold (or so I thought) until I realized that all of my dreams could be fulfilled through this incredible institution called the Angus Barn.
I see an owner’s role as the person who sets the “tone” of the business. With 300 team members, I consider it a very serious responsibility to see that the Angus Barn runs properly. The team trusts in my ability to make the right decisions so they can support their families and run their lives, and I do not take that trust lightly. With each decision that is made, the team is considered. Even in tough economic times, we have not laid off. A decrease in hours or a change in responsibilities may occur, but a notice that someone is no longer needed simply will not happen. It is important to me that my actions are ethical, moral and held to the highest standards of integrity. I love the famous Ritz-Carlton mission statement: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” That pretty much sums it up!
Our Country: I believe in running the Angus Barn as a patriotic business that truly appreciates our service men and women, respects the flag, and demonstrates a sense of pride in this great country where we can choose where we work. Having lived in another country for five years, I have seen life where the government is not like ours, therefore, I strive to instill this sense of pride in others.
Our Team: The Angus Barn creed teaches and promotes total respect among the team regardless of race, sex, national origin or religion. Bluntly, we are a “zero tolerance for rudeness” workplace. In difficult decisions, the right decision is often the hardest one, and I stay well aware that my decisions serve as examples. To ensure that all new hires truly understand the “Angus Barn Way,” each one attends an all-day seminar with General Manager Jim McGovern and me so they can hear directly from us the CORE philosophy that makes the Angus Barn different. I let them know that simply by being hired at the Angus Barn, they automatically have my trust to handle any challenging situation as if they were the owner. These trying situations are called “moments of truth,” [defined as: any time you have a challenging situation and therefore have a choice of which road you will take.] What all of this comes down to is that no matter what, I try to live my business life on the premise of empowering all team members with the ability to do the right thing. It is the single biggest life lesson that anyone working at the Barn receives. For some, it is only a reminder and for others, it is the first time they’ve been challenged in this way.
Our Earth: Environmentally, the Angus Barn is devoted to recycling and energy conservation in every facet of the business. This process has taken years. It not only takes a commitment - it takes a commitment to your commitment! When I take a look at our recycling station and see the huge amount, I cannot imagine allowing all of it to become part of the earth’s trash. My goal has been for the Angus Barn to be an example of sustainability. In my opinion, there is no other way, especially if we care about how we leave this world to the future generations. Many times there are shades of gray, but with this subject there is only black and white. Our earth has been given to us as a gift from God, and it is up to us to show our appreciation with constant care.
Our Product: I am committed to the belief that all animals, including livestock for consumption, must always be treated humanely. I painstakingly inspect many of our food purveyors to make sure the entire process is one with which I can live. Our meat is free range; our fish is line-caught; and our food suppliers are held to the highest standards. This has not always made me popular with all the food vendors, but it is the only way I can operate.
Our Guest: As far as giving back, there is a magic that surrounds a special event in your life. We have the unique opportunity to be part of these and give back to our guests more than they could ever expect. Guests trust us to make their occasion a great memory that will be with them forever. Our golden opportunity is to give them this gift. Yes, great food and ambiance are important, but it goes far beyond the meal to an intangible feeling that money cannot buy. Be it a wedding proposal, that special 80th birthday, a business meeting or simply a family night out, this time that we have is our chance to make them feel like the most important person in the world. In this hustle-bustle world, the Angus Barn should be a reprieve from the very moment you turn off Highway 70. We will do whatever it takes as long as it is not illegal, immoral or unethical to give our guests that reprieve. That is the meaning of service to me. The secret of this? ...There is no secret. Simply, listen. My guests and my team have taught me all that I need to know!
Our Community: The Angus Barn, as a business, thrives within our community; we are supported by the community, and therefore we must give back. I feel that it is a business’ obligation to give back, even if only in a small way, to charities in which they believe. I am proud to say the Angus Barn is involved in many charities from mental illness to the SPCA, and children’s disabilities to education, just to name a few. I am also proud to say the Angus Barn team members and customers never cease to amaze me with their selfless, giving spirits.
Summing it Up: I am honored to have been given the opportunity to carry on this restaurant that is steeped in old-fashioned values and traditions. There is something very special about a family business. If you’d asked me when I was 25 if I’d be doing this now, I would have said “You’re crazy!” But now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As my dear friend and renowned restaurant consultant Malcolm Knapp so eloquently put it, “The Restaurant Business is Simple. Simple is Hard.”