Facebook LinkedIn Twitter RSS

You can train for a skill, but you can’t train attitude

By ,
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group’s Jim Ryan says it’s essential to listen carefully to feedback from employees.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group’s Jim Ryan says it’s essential to listen carefully to feedback from employees.

Intuition, knowledge, training, flexibility and the desire to be the best are fundamental ingredients to running a tight kitchen and being a successful restaurateur.

As salt, yeast, water and flour are required to create a superb baguette or rustic artisan loaf, so, too, are teamwork, innovation and perseverance, three essential elements in the kitchen’s success, according to Jim Ryan, who just retired as CEO of Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, based in Lower Macungie Township.

“We live by the philosophy that you can train someone for a skill, but you can’t train attitude and empathy,” Ryan said.

Restaurateur George Paxos noted the importance of culture. He is owner and founder of Paxos Restaurants including Blue Grillhouse in Bethlehem Township, Melt, Top Cut and Torre in Upper Saucon Township and Firepoint Grill in Newtown Square.

“A truly great workplace starts from the top, with a management team that treats all employees with respect and encourages open communication,” said Paxos, whose company is based in Upper Saucon Township.

“… Find great people who complement you and who will help share your philosophies.”

LEHIGH VALLEY RESTAURANT GROUP

Jim Ryan, CEO (retired this month)

Lower Macungie Township

 

<What are the key ingredients in creating a great workplace culture?

It all starts with taking care of our valued team members through great training programs to prepare them to be outstanding providers of hospitality for our guests.

Listening carefully to their feedback on making business improvements is an essential element as we strive to make Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group a truly great place to work.

<What has been your recipe for success?

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary year, it’s clear that our success hinges on three key elements: teamwork, innovation and perseverance.

We have over 2,000 dedicated team members in our 21 restaurants who work tirelessly every day to provide a great dining experience and gourmet Red Robin burgers for our guests, while having unbridled fun in the process.

<No one starts out as a master chef or top executive. Who has helped you along the way, and how?

All credit for the success of Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group goes to our beloved founder, Steve Hanzlik. Steve was a fabulous entrepreneur, with a strong will and determination to persevere through the most challenging of times.

Steve beat cancer three times in the 1980s with his “never give up” attitude. While he lost his ultimate battle to cancer in 2010, his defining spirit and optimistic outlook carries on with our entire team to this day.

<What is your company’s training strategy/approach?

We live by the philosophy that you can train someone for a skill, but you can’t train attitude and empathy. We hire team members based on their love to make others happy and a desire to continuously learn and grow professionally.

By connecting with each of our team members through many internal initiatives and training programs, we create our well-known family atmosphere at Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group.

<What’s on the menu the next year or two for you and/or your company?

We’ve always prided ourselves on innovation in order to stay at the top of the competitive casual dining industry.

We’re currently laser focused on building our Red Robin Catering initiative. Many guests have already taken advantage of our great Red Robin Burger Bar for office parties, social functions, family celebrations or sporting events.

There is tremendous opportunity here to deliver great food to our guests outside of our traditional restaurant space.

PAXOS RESTAURANTS

George Paxos, Owner and Founder

Upper Saucon Township

 

<What are the key ingredients in creating a great workplace culture?

I am incredibly honored to say that Paxos Restaurants has been voted a top workplace in the Lehigh Valley for the past four years running. This would not be possible without our amazing staff and our continued efforts as a team to create an enjoyable workplace culture.

A truly great workplace starts from the top, with a management team that treats all employees with respect and encourages open communication. Other key ingredients that I have learned over my many years in the business:

¡ Learn from the past and always improve.

¡ Find great people who complement you and who will help share your philosophies.

¡ Employees must enjoy their workplace and have fun, while embracing procedures and rules.

¡ Make sure that all employees believe in and execute procedures.

¡ Don’t compartmentalize employees in groups, but rather work as a team helping one another.

<What has been your recipe for success?

Success comes from great people who care about doing their best. Build a great team. Add fresh, quality ingredients and an incredible atmosphere, and a successful restaurant is served.

<No one starts out as a master chef or top executive. Who has helped you along the way, and how?

I started working in the restaurant industry as a teenager, washing dishes and learning every aspect of the business in a very hands-on way. I still learn every day from my senior management team and staff, who are a continuous inspiration to me.

I have also worked with great designers and consultants along the way, who were very instrumental in creating great restaurants and venues that guests would enjoy.

<What is your company’s training strategy/approach?

Training never stops. We constantly review our procedures with all staff. We have recipes that are strictly enforced for everything we do, along with very specific service procedures that staff must learn and continuously execute.

All staff are trained and tested prior to operating on their own, and we review segments of training daily in pre-shift meetings.

<What’s on the menu the next year or two for you and/or your company?

We continue to evolve with changes in consumer preferences and trends in the industry, working hard to stay ahead of what’s to come with our culinary approach and beverage program, along with the continuous upkeep of our facilities.

We are always looking for the next great opportunity.

Also Popular on LVB

Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@lvb.com

Leave a Comment

test

Please note: All comments will be reviewed and may take up to 24 hours to appear on the site.

Post Comment
View Comment Policy

Comments

close