Brooks Reitz

Brooks Reitz

Founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. & Partner at Little Jack's Tavern and Leon's Oyster Shop, Melfi's, & Monza Pizza Bar

I’m a wanna-be writer, because storytelling is my favorite thing to do. The thing that I enjoy most, is the opportunity to tell a story to our customers through the food, drink, service style, decor, music, and uniforms. The amalgam of so many elements is theatrical, and the response from our guests, when it speaks to them, is my favorite part!

A mentor helped me understand that in order to achieve my goals, I had to take a step back and manage a team from afar. In order to open more than one restaurant, I had to remove myself from the daily, on-the-ground operations and focus on managing our managers, not managing the restaurants.
Two things I cannot live without are my computer and a strong WiFi signal.
At 24 I was promoted to General Manager of Proof, the restaurant at the original 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville. I was totally green and in hindsight, grossly underqualified for the job, but they took a chance on me. That role was priceless in my development because I made a lot of mistakes at an early age and was able to learn how to cultivate a team and guide them - and I learned what not to do, all in a busy restaurant with 3 services every day, room service, and events. It was a huge undertaking and gave me the confidence I needed to manage a larger team. I also met my mentor there, and he has remained a friend and trusted advisor to this day.
I look for a natural warmth and positive energy. This is critical for guest interaction and for developing and managing a team. The hard skills can be taught.
I read constantly and stay aware of trends and industry developments. I travel often to understand what’s happening on a larger scale in the national food conversation. And I try to balance that by staying in tune to the finer details of our projects in Charleston to learn how the industry is changing and what we can do to adapt.
I’m a voracious traveler, reader, eater and networker. All of those things combine to keep me creatively stimulated and inspired to do better.
The Art of the Restaurateur is a favorite book that I often reference for inspiration. Eater is essential for staying abreast of what’s happening in other markets. Bon Appetit and Food & Wine give a great glimpse at the national scene.
I try to stay connected, available, and giving of my time. If I’m away, I make myself available via phone, text, or email. And I touch base regularly to discuss challenges, triumphs, and goals ahead. I acknowledge shortcomings, and I celebrate victories; I challenge them to be better, and I salute them for daily achievements.

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