Tennessee Chef Donald Reed often talks about his background growing up in foster care and the time he spent behind bars as a way to teach others how the service industry can help them land on their feet, like it did for him. From his first job in fast food to his current job as a chef at Buffalo Wild Wings, the restaurant industry has been part of Donald’s life. Cooking is even where he turned while serving time in prison, and where he found a safe landing as he worked to re-enter the workforce.
Kevin Boyce is the embodiment of a service industry success story. His first job was at McDonald’s while he was still in high school. Since then, he has added numerous other jobs and titles to his resume, including Columbus City Councilman, Ohio State Treasurer, Ohio State Representative, and now the first African American Franklin County Commissioner. Among all of these incredible achievements, Boyce still credits his first job at McDonald’s for teaching him the importance of a strong work ethic.
Vic Allred, owner of several popular restaurants in the Kansas City area, represents a true service industry success story as someone who is committed to helping others gain long-term benefits through their jobs at his Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen, restaurants. As part of the National Restaurant Association’s America Works Here campaign, Allred shared some thoughts on his personal experience, “I began as a dishwasher and worked my way up to kitchen manager before graduating high school. I opened my first restaurant right after college and have been expanding ever since. At Jazz, giving back is a top priority.”
With a focus in rethinking refuel stores, Lonnie McQuirter is making an impact on employees and the local community. McQuirter (30), the owner of 36 Lyn in Minneapolis, MN, has been working to change the traditional convenience store business model stating, “This industry has been product centered for far too long and we want to get customer centered.” In order to make the types of changes McQuirter is driving, he needs the right people to help implement them.
The people who have made Restaurant Serenade in Chatham, New Jersey a success represent the different types of opportunities the service industry offers individuals at various points in their lives. For owners James and Nancy Laird, the restaurant industry not only provided a career path, it is also what brought them together.
A third generation owner of an 81 year-old retail business knows a thing or two about what makes a business succeed. For Debbie Schaeffer, President and CEO of Mrs. G’s in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, equipping employees with training and skills to deliver quality customer service is a key to success.
Vermont small businesses: It’s about the people
“One of the great joys of retail is meeting young people coming to work for the first time. Even if they are brain surgeons they often start in retail.” “We’re oftentimes that place giving high school students that first experience and that’s a big part of who we are but also is a nature of small retailer. We’re integrated into the communities.”
Growing up in retail
For these retailers, growing up in the business makes for a lifetime of memories. Watch as Massachusetts’ Woodman’s of Essex and Circle Furniture and Maine’s Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream and Renys share the joy of running a family business and serving multiple generations of customers.
2015 Faces of Diversity Award Winner: Nafees Alam
Emigrating from Bangladesh before his 18th birthday, Nafees Alam earned high praise and honors at the University of Texas. Now living his American Dream as CEO of DRG Concepts, a successful and growing restaurant business that is helping to revitalize Downtown Dallas in a big way, Alam is a man on a mission.
Minnesota small businesses: More than meets the eye
Devin Beach, employee at 36Lyn: “I love retail because it gives me many opportunities that I otherwise wouldn’t have been offered.”
Celebrating the women of the restaurant industry
As the nation’s second largest private sector employer, restaurants are driving our nation’s economic recovery — and women are leading the way. With more women in management and ownership positions than virtually any other industry, restaurants offer a career path with no glass ceiling.
2015 Faces of Diversity Award Winner: Carlito Jocson
As an immigrant from the Philippines certain things were expected of Carlito Jocson but an “aha” moment would change all that. An undeniable talent in the kitchen propelled his career, which by any measure has been extraordinary and he still has miles to go.
2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award Winner: Ollie’s Restaurant
The owners of Ollie’s restaurant wanted to make a difference in the lives of hungry children so they launched Dinners For Kids, a program that is earning raves for its common sense approach to a thorny issue that continues to plague our nation.
2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award Winner: Unsukay Community of Businesses
Three restaurant partners inspired by Ryan Hidinger, a chef who faced Stage IV cancer with uncommon strength, launched The Giving Kitchen in his honor. Meet the recipients of the Humanitarian Award who are helping Atlanta’s restaurant community with funding for unexpected hardships.
The big spirit of Maine small businesses
“19 years ago I started here, I started minimum wage, worked my way up and did everything you could do in the store and bought the store from the previous owner two years ago. To be able to locally source most of my product is the best part of this business. And there is someone here I could easily see becoming the next owner and I would love that. ”
As the second largest private-sector employer in the country, America’s restaurants are an economic force, but that statistic doesn’t fully tell the story of the millions of individuals who are living the American Dream by working in our industry.
2015 Faces of Diversity Award Winner: Pamela Patton
Pamela Patton has ‘Big Momma’ to thank for inspiration that would last a lifetime. With determination, a strong work ethic and an optimistic bent, Patton set out on a journey that started in state government but ends with a thriving restaurant and catering business in the U.S. heartland. And she’s not done yet.
2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award Winner: King’s Kitchen/ Noble Food & Pursuits
Jim Noble began ministering to others in 1998, but didn’t have a clue that his compassion and generosity would one day leave its mark on North Carolina’s largest city, and countless thousands of people he inspired along the way.
2015 Restaurant Neighbor Award Winner TL Cannon Applebees
TL Cannon is very serious when it comes to ‘doing good’ in all the neighborhoods it serves. A 61-unit Applebee’s franchisee, this New York-based company puts community, and most especially, children first.