Emery Whalen

Emery Whalen

CEO/Co-Owner of QED Hospitality

The biggest lesson that I have learned over my career is that it's all about how you make people feel. At QED, we tell ourselves this version of a Maya Angelou quote, "People may forget what they ate, what they drank, or what we said, but they will not forget how we made them feel."

The best piece of advice I have received was from a good friend of mine who would always ask me, "what is your desired outcome, and are you managing to that outcome?" It's simple, but clarifies both my thoughts and my actions. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the minutiae, but this is an excellent reminder to stay focused on what truly matters.
My time as a public school teacher in New Orleans was the most impactful of all the years I spent in school or on the job. I learned early on the importance of respect and empathy and still practice much of what I learned in the classroom as a leader today.
I knew this was the profession for me when I was working the host stand and felt elated to be in the thick of service and making people happy.
The nightly atmosphere in the Back of the House at QED is jovial, organized, intense, and thrilling.
A healthy work/life balance is essential to me, and I take my mental health very seriously. I take the time each day (even if it's ten minutes) to meditate, exercise, do yoga, whatever it takes to set my mind and body on the right track. I find that when I do that, the rest follows.
When hiring aspiring professionals, I look at an applicant's attitude first, skills later. We can train the skills with much more ease than we can teach the attitude.
Emotional intelligence is an essential skill to have in this industry! Being a leader in the hospitality space means supporting humans so they can serve other humans. It's all about the people with whom you work and whom you serve and how you make them feel.
We believe that what we do is a noble profession, working each day in the service of others and that that the restaurant industry is a viable, noble career. We keep our teams motivated by providing the tools for personal and professional growth to encourage people to stay and grow within our company and the industry as a whole.
Our teams inspire me to continue to work and excel in this industry. I am constantly pushing myself to be a better leader for our teams.
I find inspiration in my colleagues in the restaurant industry, from travel and, of course, from eating and drinking!
I love going to stage at other restaurants to see what they do better than us! I also seek out advice and mentorship from friends who work in distinctly different industries. Oftentimes, I find that the way things are done in the restaurant industry are done because it is the way it has always been done, but there is much to learn from other fields.
I couldn't do this job without my business partner, Chef Brian Landry. We balance each other perfectly. QED would not be QED without our partnership.
Paying attention to benefits for employees is a trend I'm excited about, and hopefully it is here for the long term. We aim to treat our employees as professionals and offer benefits to match whether it's healthcare, parental leave or 401Ks. It's a hot topic right now. I hope this attention that employers are paying to benefits sticks.
The books I think are the most essential in this career are "Setting the Table", "Getting Things Done", "Crucial Conversations", and "Book of Joy".

Disclaimer: Individuals featured in the Inspirational Career Timelines section have been nominated by peers, colleagues and/or other members of the hospitality industry. It is to the best of our knowledge that each individual has demonstrated leadership and acted as a positive role model for others.

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