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Urgently Hiring: Servant Leaders

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

by Adam L. Stafford

As anyone in the hospitality industry can attest, the complex network of challenges that accompany restaurant operations can leave even the most ambitious and enthusiastic chefs, FOH, and GMs bewildered, overwhelmed, and exhausted. The grueling hours, staffing challenges, and financial hurdles inherent to this area of the hospitality industry require a level of creativity, flexibility, and drive that can be difficult to conjure on a daily basis.

Turnover and burnout rates are high, profit margins are low, cash flow is scarce, and Murphy's law seems to dictate the flow of many a busy brunch or dinner service.

With the COVID-related social distancing guidelines that effect reopening efforts, this myriad of challenges has only intensified. Operating costs steadily climb as cleaning regimens become more and more tenuous and the attitudes and psychological comfort of guests and employees hangs in the balance. Mandates designed to prevent resurgence of the heinous virus leave owners and restaurant leadership in a quandary of unprecedented proportions.

The desire to once again extend welcoming hands to regulars and newcomers, TO GET BACK TO PROVIDING valued guests with exceptional service has never been stronger. However, a business without profits is only headed in one direction and current restrictions make it exceedingly difficult to establish revenue streams that support sustainability.

The perspective of proprietors across the nation was evidenced in a recent James Beard Foundation survey indicating that only 20% of the nation's restaurant owners are confident in an eventual, full-scale reopening of their establishments.

While the Independent Restaurant Coalition and renowned chefs like Tom Colicchio continue to speak out for reform of recently enacted federal relief programs, hospitality groups and owners traverse the uncharted waters of the COVID-stained culinary scene with realistic and justifiable concerns, exploring new methods to responsibly resurrect business and maintain fiscal viability. From the Mom and Pop’s to the Michelin stars, hospitality professionals from all walks of life assimilate and accommodate to these times of uncertainty in a tireless effort to save their businesses and their livelihoods. Meanwhile, the mountain of challenges continues to grow.

Culinary innovators like Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert pivot in ways that followers never would have imagined a few months ago, refocusing their efforts not only