2008 Distinguished Service Provider Award
Winner:Â Distinguished Service Provider Award
Lee Chadwick, President/CEO, The Metropolitan Club
Lee Chadwick is the proprietor and operator of “The Metropolitan Club,” a 25,000 square foot, exquisitely decorated catering and full service event facility located on Windward Parkway in Alpharetta. She has been in the banquet and catering business for 20 years and is known as someone who always does things right. After running two successful businesses that included The Pavilion on Roswell Road and The Camerron City Club on Old Roswell Road, she opened what is the “crÃ¨me of the crop” in events facilities in the golden corridor.
Chadwick is a recognized authority in the areas of food, travel and entertaining. She is a fifth generation chef, featured writer and speaker, and appears in local and national television presentations.Â She has given lectures to professional groups such as the Club Managers of America and the National Restaurant Association on subjects ranging from corporate table manners and style, to buffet creativity and innovative proprietary financing. She has enjoyed appearing and working in locations as Australia, Hong Kong, and Norway.
Chadwick’s first job opportunity was to open The Gaslight Club at O’Hare Airport in Chicago for the legendary Burton Browne. While that was amazing, she feels like the job she has now is the best she’s ever had. Chadwick calls her work extremely varied and says she and her staff enjoy a level of success allowing them to push the envelope of tradition, by “informing their work rather than control it”. Most importantly, she enjoys a level of trust with the people she serves, which to her is really satisfying.Â Chadwick adds that she has never felt so grateful for her work or the people she shares it with as she does now.
Chadwick foresees the issue of health as the biggest trend in the restaurant industry in 2009. Adding that more than 80% of all illness are lifestyle related and the most insidious problems exist as a result of food additives and a lack of understanding of good and bad fats.
Chadwick philosophically believes we all have to recognize learning as a lifelong process, saying “if we do not aggressively seek out alternative information about all we believe, and instead rely upon what we’ve learned, it’s easy to become obsolete within ten to fifteen years.”Â Chadwick thinks the industry must have a clear understanding of excess capacity, seeing that there are always untapped sources of profitability if you look long enough to reveal them. She adds that by doing what you have always done will NOT get you what you’ve always gotten. She states “when the marketplace shifts, you must shift with it or be left behind.”
Chadwick says she has been privileged to receive a lot of fantastic opportunities during her career, spanning twenty years and five operations. She is most proud of the influence she has had over the people she employees and thinks by watching them grow, learn and develop into resourceful self assured competitors of every description is nothing short of amazing.
Finalist:Â Distinguished Service Provider Award
Kat Cole, Vice President of Training and Development, Hooters of America, Inc.
Kat Cole is Vice President of Training and Development for Hooters of America, Inc., the international and privately held corporation that operates and franchises restaurants, manages the Hooters Brand Entities and generates over $1 billion in revenue.
Cole was hired for her first job in the industry at Hooters in Jacksonville, Florida as a hostess. She was not old enough to be a Hooters Girl (didn’t meet the state’s required age to serve alcohol), but as soon as she turned 18, she went through her first day of training to become a Hooters Girl.
Cole thinks the GRA plays the role of advisor, marketer, trainer, connector, public servant, friend and the larger “voice” for the restaurant industry. She believes it is a place to learn the latest laws and trends that will affect business but it is also an organization that helps build relationships between vendors, partners, restaurant operators and owners.Â She emphasizes that the GRA plays the role of a strong bridge between many places that must be connected for everyone’s long-term success.
The advice she would give to someone just starting out in the restaurant industry is to take care of the customer first, treat the company you work for as if it’s your own and save money. Cole says she always tries to ask these three questions before making decisions – Is it good for my guests? Is it good for my employees? Is it good for my business? If the answer is yes to all three questions, then she does it!
She cites her greatest accomplishment as the people she has mentored and developed along the way. Cole thinks they have taught her so much about herself and life in general and are the reasons she is able to do all the volunteer work that she does. She is most proud of her volunteerism, particularly with the Food Bank and Atlanta Union Mission and tries to give back every chance she gets.
Finalist:Â DistinguishedÂ Service Provider Award
Bobby Donlan, Managing Partner, Donlan and Greenbaum’s New York Prime – A Steakhouse
Robert Emmett “Bobby” Donlan Jr. started his food and beverage career a working as a houseboy for the Chi Omega sorority at the University of Massachusetts.Â Since then, Donlan has worked for numerous establishments, including: the Sheraton Tara, The Point after Lounge/Restaurant, Poopsie’s Pizza Restaurant and Bone’s Restaurant.Â He and his partner opened Donlan and Greenbaum’s New York Prime-A Steakhouse in January of 2003.
The industry trend he sees for 2009 is a “thinning out of the herd”. He predicts that some restaurants will fail because of the lack of cash flow.Â Donlan has noticed all restaurants in the last 12-18 months have seen sales drop from 2006 and 2007 levels. Some major players have revamped their pricing, their products or their expansion plans.Â He notes, “sometimes taking a step back (i.e., the closings of Starbucks) is a necessity.”
Donlan attributes his success, especially during difficult economic times, to his staff knowing their customers. He says “the restaurant industry is one of the most people to people businesses. It is so important the staff know your clientele.” He believes customers make choices on dining out – choosing places to eat where they are known and loved from the valet knowing their car to the hostess remembering their favorite table to the bartender pouring their favorite drink andÂ the wait staff knowing their wine selection and steak temperature.Â “All these people keep me successful in both the good and difficult times. You are only as good as your last meal,” states Donlan.
Donlan would like his contribution to the Georgia restaurant industry to be remembered as an individual who has worked hard to make a difference to the people he has servedÂ – both employee and guest.