"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Aristotle's famous quote rings true in basically every aspect of the hospitality industry. We asked seven leaders to reflect on the importance of teams.
"Building something new is what keeps me going every day. The last few years have been some of the most difficult in the history of the hospitality industry. As a brand new, independent restaurant located in an empty downtown, we had to dig very deep to survive. Between 2020-2021, we opened three locations, deepened our ties with the community, and created dozens of jobs. Seeing our progress, hitting our short-term milestones, and creating something beautiful together with my team, is how I am inspired."
- Téa Ivanovic, Co-Founder & COO of Immigrant Food
"There is no other environment where your success is contingent on you and the team being fully immersed with all of your senses and coming together. Taste, touch, smell, hear, and see the stimuli that surrounds you. It makes our work incredibly challenging but in that fragility is the beauty to what we do every day. A lot of good cooking is simply about common sense and about being present. It takes a team to achieve the dream and accomplish the why."
- Mark Chou, Executive Chef at Double Chicken Please
"The past few years have been pretty rough on our industry, and I don’t think that it would have survived without a massive team effort. My career/team highlights have two related peaks: the first is demonstrating our ability to become unified, pivot, think creatively, strategize, and execute during the initial pandemic shutdown in order to keep businesses alive. The second is helping a business to evolve, improve, and continue to experience success, while raising standards and expectations from both the team as well as the guests during the second year of the pandemic."
- Carla Changwailing, Director of Operations at 101 Hospitality
"I always want my team to feel ownership over the restaurant. When I was a young cook, the restaurants I worked at felt like my own. This allowed me to really immerse myself and take ownership. I want the entirety of my team to contribute. I don't lead by fear. I lead by example and by trying to create an environment where not being excellent is simply is not acceptable."
- James Kent, Partner & Executive Chef at Radicle Hospitality
"To stand back to see a crowded Saturday night with two packed restaurants, a full swinging nightclub in the lobby, and a line out the door for the Speakeasy, was an amazing accomplishment for a massive team. Hiring, training and retaining staff for such a variety of experiences such as a café, nightclub, Korean hot pot restaurant, vegetable-forward restaurant in a greenhouse with a wine list with an Austrian slant ahead of its time, meant my work environment had become surreal, the stuff of dream guest experiences, which couldn’t have been pulled off without a team of hundreds of individuals with different skills. My current day-to-day reminds me a great deal of that experience, albeit with less hip hop and soju."
- Lucy Cogswell Stewart, Director of Operations at Gjelina Group
"As a leader I think it's really important to model the behaviors you wish to see in your team. If you want your team to be more inspired, motivated and educated, show them what that looks like with consistency. Encourage those behaviors while continuously weeding out that which doesn't align. It’s culture."
- Sava Farah, CEO of The Pulpo Group
"During the pandemic, we had to implement several business pivots in order to keep the restaurants afloat. We turned Gwen into a marketplace for people to pick up groceries and easy meal kits. We temporarily shifted Maude into The Pie Room, where we’d sell sweet and savory pies. Both showed the resilience and adaptability of our teams, and while both restaurants are open for regular business again now, I’m very proud of how we came together to keep as many jobs as possible as well as how we were able to support our local communities."
- Curtis Stone, Iron Chef, Show Host and Owner of Stone Food, Inc.