I’ve always loved teaching, and even taught at the middle and high school levels, but the majority of my career has been in the restaurant industry. I started at Chili’s as a server and ultimately worked my way up to become a Regional Director, managing more than 80 locations throughout Northern California, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon. I then moved to Red Robin where I oversaw new openings and finally served as VP of Operations for Bob Evans prior to my current role at Modern Market.
My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to blend my love of teaching and coaching with restaurant operations. When people think of operations, many envision systems and processes, and how to make them all efficient, but what I really enjoy is the people component. By focusing on your people, you’re able to better tailor training and even mentor your team to evolve into a group of empowered leaders, which is incredibly fulfilling. And, after the last year we’ve had, incredibly necessary.
Despite a challenging year, the Modern Market team has preserved and utilized innovative omnichannel strategies to continue providing scratch-made food options that are healthy and sustainable. We’re continuing to build out our franchise opportunities and further expand into non-traditional locations given the strong performance of our Notre Dame University Student Center and Denver International Airport locations.
What was your first job?
If we journey back to my childhood, my first job was at a small burger joint near my house. I refused to leave until I saved enough for hiking boots and a new bike. But more than that, I really enjoyed working there, mostly because of the people with whom I worked and the fast paced, ever changing environment. Looking back, it seems apropos that my first job was one in the industry I enjoy and respect so much today.
What’s your favorite cuisine outside of Modern Market?
Working with fresh ingredients to create flavorful and beautiful dishes is one of my passions. Lately I have been enjoying making various pasta sauces like homemade bolognese or fresh vegetable crème sauce.
Who inspires you as a leader?
I am grateful to have surrounded myself with a dream team of mentors including Vickie Parker, the director of training and development at Chili’s when I was serving as a General Manager. She really believed in me but also gave me the opportunity to rise up and come into my own as a leader by carving out a new role for me. Vickie encouraged me to think about what else I could do and what else was possible. Since then, I’ve incorporated those questions into all my roles, so I can help push others as well. I even adapted a ‘post-it note method’ where I wrote down ideas, and any post-it that stuck with me long enough became a part of that brand-new position.
What’s the best piece of advice that other restaurant executives should hear?
One of my favorite quotes says it all, “Success and happiness is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Although leaders may naturally gravitate to coaching others, what's just as important is to stay curious yourself. When we listen deeply to others, we can keep learning and growing to be the best we can be, for ourselves and for others.
What are some of your interests outside of work?
I prioritize health and wellness in my own life and take such pride in working for a company that resonates with this. Spending quality time with my family as well as spending time outdoors hiking, doing yoga or gardening. You will also find me spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking a good meal. It’s so important to have moments of joy in life that trickle into moments of joy at work. Work/life balance can be elusive and cyclical, so taking time to give to myself and others enhances my professional life.