Ryan Egozi: When Hospitality Courses Through Your Veins

Ignite Expert

Ignite Expert

Long before he could reach the stovetop, Ryan was begging his mother to let him help with the cooking. That quickly evolved into entertaining large groups of friends and family, well before he hit his teenage years. At such a young age, Ryan says, “I knew then what I was meant to do, or rather, what I was meant for. And while I couldn’t see that my life would be dedicated to others, or the joy it would bring me. I knew that hospitality flowed through my veins.”

In 1998, Ryan obtained an unpaid position in a commercial kitchen working nights and weekends after school. At the time, he had no idea he was working towards his life’s calling. Looking back today, after 20-some odd years, Ryan says, “It could not have been more clear.” 

Over the next eight years, he honed his skills in each position while working his way through the Florida International University (FIU) hospitality program until he transitioned into management. Ryan’s experiences explored both what to do and what not to do, to realize success in the industry. 

He moved through several large corporate chains within sectors like quick service restaurants (QSR), fine dining, and casual dining. And parlayed that experience into his work with an up and coming restaurant group in South Florida. It started with one store, ten seats, and 500 square feet. Hard work and dedication to culture turned the business into a successful three-brand, 13-entity company with 400 employees. By meeting perception and brand challenges head-on, Ryan helped develop a thriving restaurant brand. 

The challenge: Overcome staffing obstacles

For Ryan, the initial challenge was obvious: Defy the restaurant industry’s negative reputation of employing transients, students and other non career oriented individuals and build a better restaurant company. Doing so required SuViche (and Ryan) to contradict the norms and bring culture, career growth, and a true spirit of learning to their team. 

But, therein was another problem. Ryan says, “We needed to ensure that we were filling our ranks not only with people smarter than us but also with individuals showing equal dedication and vision.”

They knew that by building teams around these values, which were the principles of their restaurant culture, they would be able to teach and tailor each individual to make the highest impact possible at every level – and by default, run great businesses.

The solution: Hire for character, values, and integrity

Although restaurant owners often need staffing on the fly, showing restraint proved to be the better solution. Ryan suggests that being “patient, diligent, and steadfast” helped them develop a fantastic culture and team. He says this often meant “passing on good candidates and even great ones because they didn’t share our cultural and moral values.” Critical to their decision-making was the idea that skills don’t always define great employees. In fact, this focus on ability too often “took the place of goodness, teamwork, and hospitality” in the restaurant business.  

While developing their culture, hiring, and training programs, Ryan acknowledges that “the struggle was real. It likely hindered our growth at times, as we were forced to leave positions open and consequently, overwork ourselves. Only because it was the right thing to do, and the right way to do it. We gambled on many folks, and many paid off, but many also did not.”

Regardless, Ryan and his partners held firm on their ideals. They prepared and capitalized on this differentiator by being ready to absorb, react, and respond to challenges.

Create a better restaurant brand culture from the ground up

Go beyond skills and assess employees fit for your brand’s culture. Some attributes will come from within the employees you hire and match you and your company. But it is vital to train correctly to ensure your team demonstrates your brand’s values, character, and personality. Leverage your hiring and training strategies to build a successful restaurant through exceptional people. Culture permeates everything we do, if we don’t take it seriously, if we don’t constantly have it at top of mind, it will fall by the wayside, and that’s when the rope begins to unravel uncontrollably.

Learn how to strengthen your crew and build a better restaurant culture

Are you ready to build a better management team? Ryan shows you how to develop a restaurant culture and training programs while using hiring best practices. Make decisions that differentiate your restaurant by scheduling a call with Ryan today.

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