Josh Wolkon

Josh Wolkon

Our people inspire me to continue to work and excel in this industry. I want to continue to provide a path to success for the team that has given so much to my own success. I am also motivated by the positive vibes and smiles in a full restaurant.

Advice that has stuck with me over time is to not open another restaurant until your existing restaurants are running to their standards, and you have built a strong enough bench to handle the challenges of growth.
The greatest lessons that I have learned in my career are: (1) Have a vision for where you want to go in your career. It helps when offers and opportunities come your way to know where you want to go rather than where the market wants you to go. (2) Establish core values and hold your entire organization accountable for upholding those values. (3) Make sure to reward your people as much as possible. Looking out for your staff always pays back in spades.
Find purpose in your local community outside the four walls of your restaurant. Restaurants have a responsibility and countless opportunities to give back more than we take, so engrain yourself into the fabric of your community.
I had two jobs that have helped shape my career. The first was when I took a line cook job at The Oasis in Boulder, CO, after working as a FOH Manager for a couple of years in Boston. It was a vital experience in being able to see things from the BOH perspective, especially given that I am not a trained chef. The second job was at A Spice of Life Catering; it taught me how to build a culture based on fun.
I knew this profession was right for me in college. I would often throw memorable and fun events on campus. Every step of the event planning from the menu planning, the décor, creating playlists, to watching the energy of a party build and peak would energize and motivate me to throw another one. I just loved and still love the reward of seeing so many smiling faces.
I exercise daily, whether it be mountain biking, skiing, yoga, swimming, Peloton, or Orange Theory, daily to maintain a healthy work/life balance. I shoot to ski my age in days on the mountain every year (shooting for 49 days this year). I’ve also made a point to surround myself with great people so that I can step away with a clear head. You have to learn to trust your team if you want a balance.
I have always loved Danny Meyer’s 51% theory for hiring and evaluating potential hires, 51% of the weighting is given to emotional intelligence, and 49% to technical skills. It’s always a good sign when applicants have done their research on our company and have thoughtful and engaging questions.
The most important skills to possess in this industry are the ability to network and a commitment to always serve your team first.
We do a lot to keep our teams motivated and educated. We offer yearly retreats for top management, we support and pay for out of state stage opportunities, create quarterly personal goal setting, and hold quarterly “Band Practices,” which focus around motivational speakers, public speaking courses, computer education, and HR education. We also focus on the mental and physical well-being of our staff through our yearly wellness initiatives. In the past, we have sponsored health club memberships, road races, company-wide cleanses, and a quit smoking initiative.
I find most of my inspiration from traveling, dining out, reading, and listening to podcasts. Instagram and Pinterest are great for design research and inspiration.
I couldn't do this job without my printed Word file to do list (old school). It is always in my pocket with a red pen.
The essential books for this profession, in my opinion, are the entire Zingerman’s Collection: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to: Managing Ourselves, Being a Better Leader, Building a Great Business, and The Power of Beliefs in Business.

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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